FUNERAL READINGS: Words and Stories

And Rest

Several years ago I was approached by Cambridge University and asked if this reading could be used for a special memorial service for those who had donated their bodies to the University. I was honored, and it gave me a chance to reconsider it. It was the first reading to appear in my book 'Words for Funerals' and it has served many people in many different services since then. Recently I had the privilege to carry out a funeral for a famous choreographer and dancer, and this reading seemed so right for him. 

There is a moment*
In musical rehearsal
When all the players
The choir
The woodwind and brass
The strings and percussion
The entire orchestra
And there is peace

The conductor says two words
‘And rest’

Voices cease to sing
The woodwind put down oboes and clarinets
The brass lay down trumpets and trombones
Others do the same
Because the music is over

There is no audience
There is no applause

In that moment
Quietness reigns
Yet the quiet that follows
Remains harmonious

There is a certain silence
A space
For reflection and repose

The music is remembered
And so we contemplate
The highs
The lows
The passage of melody

Sometimes we feel sad
Because the chords
Have drifted away

Some will feel loss
Others experience relief
And others deep sadness

We share
That moment of closure
When the conductor
‘And rest.’