What is an Order of Service?

What is an Order of Service?

An order of service is a printed programme that outlines the events of a funeral, if you decide to have one, or memorial service. It typically includes:

  • The deceased’s information: Full name, dates of birth and death, and perhaps a photo.
  • Welcome and opening remarks: A brief introduction by the officiant (religious leader, celebrant, or family member) who will lead the service.
  • Readings and reflections: These can be religious scriptures, poems, or personal anecdotes shared by friends or family.
  • Musical selections: Hymns, songs, or instrumental pieces chosen to reflect the deceased’s life or religious beliefs.
  • Eulogy or tribute: A speech delivered by a close friend or family member that highlights the deceased’s personality, achievements, and impact on others.
  • Moment of silence: A time for quiet reflection.
  • Closing remarks and prayers: Words of comfort from the officiant, with an opportunity for attendees to participate in a prayer or blessing.
  • Additional information: Details about a reception or post-service gathering, charitable donations in memory of the deceased, and funeral director contact information.

Why is an Order of Service Important?

An order of service offers several benefits:

  • Structure and guidance: It provides a clear structure for the ceremony, ensuring a smooth flow from one element to the next. This can be comforting for mourners during a difficult time.
  • Keepsake and memory: The order of service becomes a lasting memento for attendees, allowing them to recall the details of the ceremony and cherish the memory of the deceased.
  • Involvement and personalisation: It allows for personalisation by incorporating readings, music, or tributes that reflect the deceased’s life and values.
  • Participation and inclusion: The order of service helps attendees participate actively by following along with the readings and prayers.

Creating a Meaningful Order of Service

Here are some steps to consider when creating an order of service for a funeral:

  1. Gather information: Collect details about the deceased, including their date of birth and death, religious beliefs, favourite music, hobbies, and personality traits.
  2. Choose an officiant: Select a religious leader, celebrant, or trusted family member who will lead the service. Discuss your preferences and the overall tone of the ceremony with the officiant.
  3. Consider the venue: Will the service be held at a place of worship, funeral director’s premises, or another location? The venue may influence the structure and content of the service.
  4. Select readings: Choose readings that resonate with the deceased’s life or offer comfort to mourners. These can be religious passages, poems, or inspirational quotes.
  5. Compose a eulogy or tribute: The eulogy is a central part of the ceremony, offering a chance to celebrate the deceased’s life and achievements. Consider who would be best suited to deliver the eulogy and provide guidance and support in crafting their speech.
  6. Music selection: Choose songs or hymns that were meaningful to the deceased or reflect the overall mood of the service. Uplifting music can provide comfort and inspiration, while more sombre pieces can create a reflective atmosphere.
  7. Incorporate visuals: Including photographs of the deceased throughout their life can be a touching way to personalise the service. Consider creating a slideshow or displaying photos on a table.
  8. Proofread and finalise: Once the content is complete, carefully proofread the order of service for any typos or errors. Consider getting a second pair of eyes to review the document before printing.

Additional Considerations for Different Types of Funerals

  • Religious funerals: Religious traditions often have specific elements incorporated into the ceremony. Work with the officiant to ensure the order of service adheres to these traditions while still reflecting the deceased’s individuality.
  • Secular funerals: Secular funerals offer more flexibility in structure and content. You can personalise the service by incorporating readings, music, and tributes that celebrate the deceased’s life without religious context.
  • Military funerals: Military funerals often include specific protocols and traditions. The funeral director or military liaison can provide guidance on incorporating these elements into the order of service.

Where to Get Your Order of Service Made

Many funeral directors offer the service of creating and printing orders of service for families. They will typically have a selection of templates to choose from, or you can work with them to design a bespoke order of service that reflects your wishes.

You can also find online resources and templates for creating your own order of service. These can be a cost-effective option, but be sure to choose a reputable website and allow enough time for printing and delivery.

Catholic Order of Service for a Funeral (UK)

A Catholic funeral service in the UK follows a similar structure to other parts of the world, honouring the deceased while offering comfort and hope through prayers, scripture readings, and the celebration of the Eucharist. Here’s a breakdown of a typical Catholic order of service in the UK:

Introductory Rites:

  • Entrance Hymn: A hymn or psalm sung as the celebrant (priest) and concelebrants (other clergy) enter the church.
  • Greeting: The celebrant welcomes those gathered and offers opening prayers.
  • Sprinkling with Holy Water: A symbolic act of purification using holy water.
  • Penitential Act (optional): A brief prayer acknowledging human sinfulness.
  • Glory: A hymn sung to glorify God. (omitted during certain liturgical seasons)

The Liturgy of the Word:

  • First Reading: A scripture passage from the Old Testament.
  • Responsorial Psalm: A sung response to the reading.
  • Second Reading: A passage from the New Testament, often an epistle by St. Paul.
  • Alleluia Acclamation: A song praising Christ before the Gospel.
  • Gospel: The reading of a Gospel passage by the deacon or celebrant.
  • Homily: A reflection on the readings by the celebrant.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist:

  • Presentation of the Gifts: Bread and wine are brought forward by offertory procession.
  • Prayers of the Faithful: Intercessions for the deceased, the Church, and the world.
  • Preface: A prayer of thanksgiving leading into the Eucharistic Prayer.
  • Eucharistic Prayer: The central part of the Mass, where the bread and wine are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Lord’s Prayer: The recitation of the Our Father by all present.
  • Sign of Peace: A gesture of peace exchanged among attendees.
  • Lamb of God: A chanted prayer asking for God’s mercy.
  • Holy Communion: Those who are baptised Catholics in the state of grace receive Holy Communion.
  • Prayer after Communion: A silent or spoken prayer following the reception of Communion.

Concluding Rites:

  • Final Commendation: A prayer commending the deceased to God’s mercy.
  • Farewell: A brief address by the celebrant.
  • Recessional Hymn: A hymn sung as the casket is led out of the church.

Additional Elements:

  • Eulogy: A written or spoken tribute to the deceased, often delivered by a family member during the Introductory Rites or after Communion.
  • Musical selections: Hymns and other sacred music chosen with the guidance of a church organist or music director to reflect the solemnity of the occasion.
  • Bible Readings: Family members or friends may be chosen to deliver the readings from the Old and New Testaments.

Variations for the UK:

  • Some Catholic churches in the UK may incorporate elements of local traditions or cultural customs into the service.
  • The celebrant may use terminology or phrasing specific to the Catholic Church in England and Wales or the Catholic Church in Scotland.
  • Funeral hymns chosen may be more familiar to UK congregations.

Finding Out More:

For specific details about the order of service at a Catholic funeral in the UK, it’s best to consult with the priest or funeral director involved in arranging the service. They can provide guidance on the specific traditions and customs observed at the particular church.

Methodist Order of Service for a Funeral (UK)

A Methodist funeral service in the UK offers a space for mourners to gather, celebrate the life of the deceased, and find comfort in faith. Here’s a breakdown of a typical Methodist order of service:

Welcome and Opening:

  • Hymn or Instrumental Piece: Uplifting music chosen to set the tone for the service.
  • Introduction: A welcome by the officiant (minister, celebrant, or family member) who will lead the service.
  • Opening Prayer: A prayer seeking God’s presence and comfort for those gathered.

Remembering the Life:

  • Tribute or Eulogy: A heartfelt speech delivered by a close friend or family member highlighting the deceased’s life, personality, and achievements.
  • Readings: Poems, scripture passages, or inspirational quotes chosen to reflect the deceased’s faith or values. These can be read by family members or friends.
  • Memories and Reflections: Opportunity for other mourners to share personal stories or anecdotes about the deceased (optional).

Words of Comfort and Hope:

  • Hymn: A hymn chosen to offer solace and hope.
  • Sermon or Address: The officiant delivers a message of comfort and inspiration based on scripture or personal reflection.
  • Prayers of Intercession: Prayers for the deceased, the family, and those grieving. This may involve silent reflection or spoken prayers.

The Farewell:

  • Closing Hymn: A final hymn to mark the end of the service.
  • Committal: A brief prayer or words of committal spoken at the graveside or crematorium (optional).
  • Benediction: A closing blessing offered by the officiant.

Additional Considerations:

  • Music: Music plays a significant role in Methodist services. Uplifting hymns and instrumental pieces chosen in consultation with the organist or music director can provide comfort and inspiration.
  • Visual Tributes: Displaying photos or creating a slideshow depicting the deceased’s life can be a touching way to personalize the service.
  • Flowers: While flowers are welcome, some families may prefer donations to a charity in the deceased’s memory.

Variations for the UK:

  • Methodist services allow for flexibility in structure and content. The order of service can be adapted to reflect the deceased’s faith and the family’s preferences.
  • Hymns chosen may be from a Methodist hymnal or more contemporary Christian music collections.
  • Local Methodist churches may have their own traditions or customs that are incorporated into the service.

Finding Out More:

For specific details about the order of service at a Methodist funeral in the UK, it’s best to consult with the minister or funeral director involved in arranging the service. They can provide guidance on the specific traditions and customs observed at the particular Methodist church.

Muslim Order of Service for a Funeral (UK)

A Muslim funeral service in the UK follows a traditional structure focused on prayers for the deceased and seeking God’s (Allah’s) forgiveness. Here’s a breakdown of a typical Muslim order of service:

Gathering and Preparations:

  • Washing and Shrouding: The deceased is washed and shrouded in a simple white cloth by family members or designated individuals following Islamic rituals. (This typically occurs before the service at a mosque or designated space.)

Funeral Prayer (Salat al-Janazah):

  • Entrance: Mourners, typically men only in some communities, gather at the designated location (mosque courtyard, prayer hall, or another suitable space) facing the direction of Mecca (Qiblah).
  • Opening Takbir: The officiant (Imam) raises his hands and recites the opening Takbir (“Allahu Akbar”).
  • Recitation from Quran: Short passages from the Quran are recited by the Imam or a designated reader.
  • Sermon (optional): The Imam may deliver a brief sermon reminding mourners of the importance of faith and the temporary nature of life.
  • Funeral Prayer: The Imam leads the congregation in four cycles of silent prayers for the deceased.
  • Final Supplication: The Imam offers a supplication seeking forgiveness and mercy for the deceased.


  • Procession: The mourners, typically men only in some communities, proceed silently to the burial ground in a procession carrying the deceased.
  • Lowering into Grave: The body is carefully lowered into the grave, positioned on its right side facing Mecca.
  • Filling the Grave: Family members and attendees may participate in throwing handfuls of earth into the grave.
  • Closing Prayers: Short prayers are offered by the Imam or mourners for the deceased and their family’s strength.

Additional Considerations:

  • Women and Children: While some traditions may restrict women and children from attending the burial, this is becoming more flexible in some UK Muslim communities. It’s best to check with the family or mosque for their specific customs.
  • Eulogies or Tributes: These are not typically part of a Muslim funeral service. The focus is on prayers for the deceased.
  • Condolence Greetings (Ta’ziyah): After the burial, mourners may offer condolences to the family (typically separate areas for men and women).

Variations in the UK:

  • Funeral traditions can vary slightly between different Muslim denominations and ethnicities.
  • The language used during the service (Arabic, English, or a combination) may depend on the preferences of the family and the mosque.

Finding Out More:

For specific details about the order of service at a Muslim funeral in the UK, it’s best to consult with the Imam or a trusted member of the deceased’s family. They can provide guidance on the specific customs observed by the family and the mosque. Also visit the National Burial Council, the national umbrella body representing Muslim bereavement services across the UK


An order of service is a powerful tool for creating a meaningful and personal funeral ceremony. By carefully considering the content and structure, you can ensure a service that truly honours the life and memory of your loved one.