Shrewsbury Abbey


If you have lost a loved one, please accept our condolences.

We know preparing for a funeral can be a really rough time. The aim of this page is to try and help you to come through it as best as possible, emotionally and spiritually. We will try our best to help.

Christians understand the grief of loss, but Christians also believe there is life beyond the mortal. This belief is one of the core foundations of Christianity, one which gives Christians a sense of hope even when, perhaps especially when, things seem hope-less.

Do have a look at the Church of England Funerals website, it has a wealth of information. Just click on the pictures below:

Church Of England Funerals Funerals: Light a candle Find out what happens at a Church of England led funeral

First Steps

When someone dies there are so many emotions, so many things to do and it can be very difficult to focus on how to do things in the right way. Some things have to happen within a fairly tight time scale and the Funeral Director will be best equipped to help you through all the legalities.

  How do I contact the Vicar?

Normally the Funeral Director will give the Vicar a contact name, address and phone number. It is the practice at the Abbey to try to follow up as soon as possible, but sometimes, for various reasons contact cannot easily be made. If you have not heard from him within 48 hours please call the Abbey Office at 01743 – 232723 or email the Vicar at (please note, that unless there is an emergency, the Vicar tries to take Friday off).

It is the practice of the Vicar to make an appointment to come and see you if this is at all possible. Please feel free to ask anyone else to come to this meeting.

 Where will the funeral take place?

 This depends on your wishes. The immediate possibilities are:

  • the Abbey or St. Peter’s,

  • Emstrey Crematorium, or

  • Longden Road Cemetery Chapel (Old Cemetery).

It is possible to have a full service at either church followed by a short committal at the Crematorium or Interment at the Cemetery. In the case of a full Church service followed by cremation some families decide not to go to the Crematorium.

Another way (less common in urban areas), is to have a family-only cremation followed by an open-invitation memorial service in the Church. The benefit of this is that the family can meet with their guests immediately after the main service. In all instances the Funeral Director will arrange times and places with the Vicar and with the family.

When will the funeral take place?

While this can occasionally be quite difficult to arrange, in most cases it is not a complex matter. First of all, no funeral can take place before all the relevant legalities are completed. Please follow the guidance of your Funeral Director in this. Different Funeral Directors have different ways of arranging the times, but for the most part they will agree to a time mutually convenient to the family, themselves, and the Vicar.

Choosing a time at the Crematorium can sometimes be frustrating because there are only so many time-slots. If you really want a particular time, it might be easier to have a service in the Church, where there is less constraint on timing. 

Who will conduct the service?

Normally most services will be conducted by the Vicar. He is very open to sharing the leadership of the service with other people particularly where there is a family connection. No service can be conducted in either Church or Churchyard without the express permission of the Vicar or the Churchwardens.

Unfortunately, there are occasions when a family have very special reasons for choosing a particular time and day only to find the Vicar already has a prior engagement. Where this is the case, the Funeral Director and Vicar together will seek a minister to conduct the service for you. This minister will then deal with all the practical arrangements relating to the service.

What will the service contain?

Put simply, every single Funeral Service is different. Normally the Vicar will work on a standard framework which can then be adjusted to make the service personal. 

A service can contain some or all of the following:

  • Music

  • Prayer

  • Moments of Silence

  • Tributes

  • Poetry

  • Bible Readings.

This list is not exhaustive. If in doubt, the Golden Rule is to keep it simple and dignified.

Taking a deeper look at some of these components:

Music: This can include music wile entering and exiting, hymns, and a reflective or personal piece during the service. It is important, however, not to make a service too long, especially at the Crematorium where time is a factor. When it comes to hymns the best policy is to choose one or two (at most three) which are well known and singable. If you choose to use a pre-recorded item, please talk to the Funeral Director or Vicar about this as early as possible. Both the Abbey and the Crematorium have their own music systems.

Prayer: The number and length of prayers is largely up to the family, but we encourage you to keep in mind that there will be a moment of silence. Normally, prayers will end with the traditional Lord’s Prayer. The Vicar is more than happy to share the leadership of this part of the service or to read out special prayers on behalf of the family.

Silence: There will always be a short time of quiet for people to say their own prayers, or simply reflect in silence. If you would prefer a longer time of quiet reflection please talk to the Vicar.

Spoken Tributes: Please discuss this with the Vicar. It is quite common (but not an obligation) for someone — a friend, family, or colleague — to say a few words at a Funeral Service. If you would like this, please liaise with the Vicar, who will help with issues such as content and length. If you would really like to say something but feel you couldn’t stand up and say it yourself,  please consider writing something for the Vicar to say. Sadly, in most urban parishes, the Vicar will not know the deceased — either well or possibly at all. It can be very meaningful if someone who does know the deceased can help him with this part of the service. We recommend any ‘Tributes’ are written out in full. A good suggestion is no more than 1 side of A4 paper typed size 12 and then double-space it for ease of reading.

Readings: It is part of a Church of England service to have at least one reading from the Bible. If you have any requests of passages, please discuss it with the Vicar, otherwise, the Vicar is happy to choose and read a selection. In addition, please feel free to ask the Vicar to include any other items of prose or poetry. Again, please consider how this will affect the overall length of the service.

All the above will be woven into the service to make it unique and personal.

Again, if in doubt, the Golden Rule is – keep it simple and dignified.

Service Sheets: These are becoming more popular, especially if you choose hymns from more than one book. They can also be a keepsake in your own ‘family archives’. They are not obligatory. The Vicar can arrange for these for a very small additional fee, or else talk to the Funeral Director.

Refreshments: It is a very common practice for the family to put on a ‘bit of a spread’ afterwards. If this is to be an open invitation to any mourner, please tell the Vicar who will be pleased to announce this at the service.

Collections: It is also a very common practice to take a collection in memory of the deceased to be donated to a charitable concern. Collections at the Crematorium or Cemeteries will be accounted to you by the Funeral Directors. Please remember however that any collection taken in either Church ‘technically’ belongs to the Church and you should discuss beforehand with the Vicar any wish for all or part of such a collection to be disbursed to a third party. If the recipient of the collection is to be the church or another registered charity it is well worth considering ‘Gift Aid’. Again, talk to the Vicar about this.

Fees: Unless agreement is made to the contrary the Statutory and Local Fees due to the Church will be paid to the Church by the Funeral Director who will invoice you accordingly. If you request another minister – for family or personal reasons – to lead the service, all Statutory Fees due to the Vicar and to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) will still need to be settled. 

 Numbers of Mourners: This can be very difficult to judge. It is useful however if you can advise the Vicar if you think the numbers will be a handful or a very large number as he will adjust the style and feel of the service accordingly. If you are expecting a large number, say 150 plus, please remember the Abbey Church has many more seats than either the Crematorium or the Cemetery Chapels. If you are unsure about numbers for the purpose of service sheets remember it is good to have one for each person, so please talk to the Funeral Director with your best estimate of numbers.

Children at Services: People of all ages are welcome. The Vicar works on the basis that a child old enough to say ‘nana’ is well old enough to come, but any decision on this rests with the parents. Please note both Churches do have toilets on site although at St. Peter’s these are available in the Church Hall.

Flowers: These are a very common part of the tribute. Sometimes people ask for ‘Family Flowers only’, other times it is right and proper to allow anyone to bring flowers. Please do think about what you might do with the flowers at the end of the service. Some people simply leave all the floral tributes at the Crematorium, others like to distribute them between family graves, hospitals, residential homes or ask for them to be displayed in the church. Flowers don’t last though, please talk to the Vicar if you would prefer a more permanent ‘memorial’.

Burial of Ashes at a later date:  This will be by arrangement between you, the Funeral Director and the Vicar.

Stone Memorials: These are subject to incredibly strict guidelines.  If you require a Stone Memorial Tablet at the Crematorium or at the Cemetery, please discuss this with the Funeral Director in the first instance.

Other tributes: In addition to the donations mentioned above some people like to think of something more permanent than flowers. At both Churches it is possible to donate towards things such as Pew Bibles which would be suitably inscribed and there are other things, both in the church and in the wider community, which might be considered as a much more lasting memorial than flowers – Again, talk to the Vicar about this.


A Funeral will not be an easy time, but it should be a fitting tribute and quite properly a celebration of a life. 

Please feel free to discuss any matter about a Funeral Service with the Funeral Director or with me.

I hope this guide and the following prayers and readings have been of help.

 Booklet and text on the page above ©Paul Firmin 2011

The following are drawn from a multitude of sources

Prayers at this time

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shades lengthen, and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is overhand our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Living God,
you have lit the day with the sun’s light
and the midnight with shining stars.
  Lighten our hearts with the bright beams
of the Sun of Righteousness
risen with healing in his wings,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
And so preserve us in the doing of your will,
that at the last we may shine
as the stars for ever;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God, in your great love
you crafted us by your hand and breathed life into us by your Spirit.
Although we became a rebellious people, you did not abandon us to our sin.
In your tender mercy
you sent your Son
to restore in us your image.
In obedience to your will
he gave up his life for us,
bearing in his body our sins on the cross.
By your mighty power
you raised him from the grave
and exalted him to the throne of glory.
Rejoicing in his victory
and trusting in your promise
to make alive all who turn to Christ,
we commend N to your mercy
and we join with all your faithful people
and the whole company of heaven
in the one unending song of praise:
glory and wisdom and honour
be to our God for ever and ever.

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing.

Almighty God,
you love everything
you have made
and judge us with infinite mercy and justice.
We rejoice in your promises of pardon, joy and peace
to all those who love you.
In your mercy turn the darkness of death into the dawn of new life,
and the sorrow of parting into the joy of heaven;
through our Saviour
Jesus Christ,
who died, rose again, and lives for evermore. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you comforted your disciples when you were going to die:
now set our troubled hearts at rest
and banish our fears.
You are the way to the Father:
help us to follow you.
You are the truth:
bring us to know you.
You are the life:
give us that life, to live with you now and for ever.

A selection of short readings 

Sunset and evening star,
one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea, 

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.  

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may be there no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face,
When I have crossed the bar.

Death is nothing at all,
I have slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way
Which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow,
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Pray, smile, think of me, give thanks for me,
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
Without the trace of a shadow in it.
Life means all that it ever meant,
It is the same as it ever was,
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, For an interval,
Somewhere very near,
Just around the corner,
‘All is well’. 
Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)  Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral 

I asked for strength that I might achieve. He gave me weakness that I might learn obedience. 
I asked for health that I might do great things. He gave me sickness that I might do better things. 
I asked for wealth that I might be happy. He gave me poverty that I might be wise. 
I asked for power that I might have glory. He gave me weakness that I might depend on God. 
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. He gave me life that I might enjoy things. 
I received nothing I asked for, But all I hoped for. I am rich; I am happy. My prayer is answered.
Amongst all people I am blessed. 
Author Unknown 

The term is over, the holidays have begun. The dream is ended, this is the morning. All their life in this world had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read,
which goes on forever. 
C.S. Lewis      

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year.‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’. 
M. Louise Haskins 

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied: "My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
  May the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and for ever more. Amen. 

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renown’d be thy grave!

Cymbeline Act 1V, Scene 2
William Shakespeare

Farewell to Thee! But not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of Thee;
Within my heart they still shall dwell
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
Life seems more sweet that Thou didst live
And men more true Thou wert one;
Nothing is lost that Thou didst give,
Nothing destroyed that Thou hast done.

Anne Bronte 1820-1849

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower
Nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I am gone
Speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves
That I have known

Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So … sing as well

Joyce Grenfell 1910-1979

Since you’ll never be forgotten
I pledge to you today;
A hallowed place within my heart
Is where you’ll always stay.

If tears could build a stairway
And heartache make a lane;
I’d walk the path to heaven
And bring you back again.

Our family chain is broken,
and nothing seems the same;
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

Lyrics by Robert Plant & Jimmy Page