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?

Victory in Jesus

This is one of my husband’s favorite hymns and he uses it often at funeral services.  It was written by Eugene Bartlett, an author and composer, who was born in Missouri.  This was his last work, written in 1939, just two years before his death.  It became the most well loved of his songs and has been included in many hymnals.  I have a bit of a theological problem with it because at the end of the first verse it says “I” won the victory.  Of course, Lutherans believe we do not choose or win anything, that great work was done by our Savior.  However, the music and message is uplifting, and it certainly echoes our monthly theme, so enjoy!

For more funeral songs see:

Funeral Songs

Go Rest High On That Mountain


Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

My husband and I have been continuing to watch the documentary. Country Music, by Kenneth Burns.  Last night one of the songs mentioned was Will the Circle Be Unbroken.  This popular Christian hymn was originally written in 1907 by Ada R. Habershon with music by Charles H Gabriel. The song is often recorded unattributed and, because of its age, has lapsed into the public domain. A. P Carter, of the Carter family wrote a reworked version of the song, intended as a funeral hymn.  It was released in 1935 and became instantly popular. The Carter version uses the same music and the same verse structure but with different verse lyrics and a modified chorus.

Most touching to me, was an interview with an African-American musician who said this hymn was one of her grandmother’s favorites. Her grandmother trusted that family members sold into slavery and lost to one another would be reunited in heaven.

Here’s the Carter’s version of this plaintive hymn.