Hymns for a Funeral

What hymns would you like people to sing at your funeral? My husband, a pastor, says when he asks people if their loved one had a favorite hymn, or if a particular hymn would be comforting to the family, they have no clue. Maybe this is something we should be talking about or choosing ahead of time. But how to choose?

Some people may have a hymn they associate with a special event — their confirmation, or wedding for example. Others may love a hymn that brings back memories of their childhood, one that was a favorite with their family or home church.

Most hymnals (at least the Lutheran ones I am familiar with) have a section listing hymns that are appropriate for funerals. Here are a few I found listed:

*Abide with Me

*I’m but a Stranger Here

*For All the Saints

*I Know That My Redeemer Lives

*I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb

*The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Almost any Easter hymn would be a good selection. There are many suitable contemporary songs as well. Here are the songs I have selected:

Borning Cry (Because I know God has been with me throughout my entire life)

Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling (this is the one I consider my life hymn – it inspired and motivated me) This should be the sermon hymn.

Til we Meet Again (My wish is that I will meet everyone who is mourning me at my funeral again and that right now I am meeting many loved ones and saints who have gone before)

There is no right or wrong choice but make it meaningful. Again, this is a final chance to testify about your faith and what it has meant to you. Talk to your loved ones or write out some instructions. They’ll be glad you did.

For more funeral songs see these posts:

Funeral Songs

No Scars In Heaven

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

A Poor Wayfaring Stranger

After writing the post about being a stranger or sojourner on earth, this folk song came to mind. Not a surprise, since it’s based on the same passage in Psalm 119.

“I am a sojourner on the earth …” Psalm 119:19a

The origins of the song are a little murky. During and for several years after the Civil War, it was called the Libby Prison Hymn, because the words had been inscribed by a dying Union soldier incarcerated in Libby Prison, a notorious Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia. It was said that the soldier composed the song, but this was not true — it had been published several years before the war began. There are many variations of this song, and it has been performed by many artists over the years, a testament to the universal appeal. At times we all feel a longing for our real, heavenly home.

For more gospel music see these posts:

On the Wings of a Dove

Oh Happy Day

Precious Lord Take My Hand

All Creatures of Our God and King

The words of the hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King” were taken from the poem, Canticle of the Sun, written by St Francis of Assisi in 1225. (This poem is based upon Psalm 148.)  The words were translated into English and set to music by William Draper sometime between 1899 and 1919. Draper at the time was rector of a Church of England parish church at Adel near Leeds. It was written for the church’s Whitsun festival celebration, and later published in 1919 in the Public-School Hymn book. It became a very popular hymn and is currently used in 179 different hymnals.

Even if it is familiar to you, you’ll enjoy hearing it again today!

For more about St. Francis of Assisi see these posts:

St. Francis Set to Music

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review

A Channel of Your Peace

A Communion Hymn

Does your congregation sing during the distribution of Communion? It’s a common practice among Lutherans. Recently the church I attended used this hymn for that purpose. It was written by Friedrich C. Heyder (1677-1754), who was born in Merseburg, Germany. He was a deacon there, and later became a pastor. This hymn is highly regarded as a catechetical tool (in other words, it teaches us). Listen and reflect upon the meaning of the Sacrament of Communion in your own life.

For more hymns used during Holy Communion see these posts:

I Lay My Sins on Jesus

I Am The Bread of Life

Just As I Am

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

This past week at worship service we sang “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.” Although the hymn was familiar to me, I didn’t realize until I came home and looked it up, that it was written by John Newton (1725-1807). After working as a sailor and slave trader, Newton had a conversion experience and was eventually ordained as a curate in Olney Parish, Buckinghamshire, England. There, in addition to Sunday services, he began holding meetings for adults and children during the week, times when he could further explain the Scriptures. He began composing songs to go along with the Scripture lessons. Eventually a collection of these hymns, along with some composed by his friend, William Cowper, were published in 1779 in Olney Hymns, a hymnal which became popular in both England and America.

“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” was included in Olney Hymns under the title “The Name of Jesus.” Itis based upon the Song of Solomon 1:3: “Your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.” Relax and enjoy this sweet treat as you begin the day.

For more hymns see these posts:

Grant Us Wisdom

Nearer to Thee

The Navy Hymn

The Peace of God

This hymn was suggested to me by one of our occasional authors. It came to her mind after reading the recent quote I posted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (More about Peace).  “They cast their nets in Galilee” was written by attorney and poet William Alexander Percy (1885-1942), a native of Greenville, Mississippi. It was new to me, but I love it, and maybe you will, too.

For more music see these posts:

Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult

I Lay My Sins on Jesus

Nearer to Thee

Joy and Laughing

I’m currently reading a book about joy during my morning devotional time. It’s a fruit of the spirit that we sometimes neglect. That brought to mind this song called Jesus Laughing. Jesus led a completely human life, and laughter is part of that. He was joyful, and we should be too. Start your day laughing with Him.

For more Christian songs see:

God is Bigger

Don’t Praise Me

One Final Song for the Road

Grant Us Wisdom

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) wrote this hymn for the 1931 dedication of the Riverside Church in the Morningside area of upper Manhattan. He served as pastor from 1931 until his retirement in 1946. We sang it in the most recent worship service I attended, and I particularly noticed the refrain — Grant us wisdom, grant us courage. Sometimes wisdom requires us to take a stand against worldly teaching. Listen, and be encouraged to be bold in proclaiming what is right and true!

For more hymns see these posts:

O Holy Jesus

The Navy Hymn

An Advent Hymn

Fix Me Jesus

A book I’ve been using recently mentioned an African-American spiritual called Fix Me, Jesus. Since I was unfamiliar with this song, I decided to look it up. I enjoyed listening to it, and hope you will, too.

For more spirituals see these posts:

Were You There?

It’s Me

The Black Church–This is Our Story This is Our Song–Film Review

By Faith

The sermon I heard this past week was based on some of my favorite passages of Scripture– the 11th and 12th chapters of Hebrews. These verses speak of some of the great heroes of the faith, those who have gone before us (and by the way they were also just regular folks with plenty of flaws). Even those who came before the birth of Christ were counted among the faithful because they were looking forward to the One to come, they believed in the promises of God.

 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

One of the hymns went right along with the message. It’s by the Gettys (wonderful contemporary hymnists) and I know our readers will love it as I do.


For more contemporary hymns see these posts:

A Favorite New Song

Leaving a Legacy

New Song #2