Having worked at a church for nearly five years, I’ve been involved in the planning of quite a few funerals. I’ve witnessed the overwhelmed confusion of grieving family members who are left with the task of choosing what Scriptures should be read, which hymns or songs should be sung, how many people should speak, what kind of musicians should play, what bulletin cover should be used, where donations should go, etc, etc. Their world has just been turned upside down and they are just trying to get through the day. Some find this planning process to be a healthy part of grieving. But many others find it a very painful, difficult task, and often end up just telling the pastor or elder to make the choices for them.
When you witness this often enough, you can’t help but start thinking of what you might plan for your own funeral so that your own loved ones won’t have to take on that burden. Some of the more elderly ladies at that church have already submitted their choices for when they go. I love that idea.
So, over the course of several years, I’ve kept that in mind and considered what hymns or songs I would like at my funeral. I know I want the Gospel clearly preached. I have several pastors/teachers in mind that I would like to perform the funeral (depending on who is available at the time, of course). I’m confident in their own choice of Scriptures in order to clearly present the Gospel.
Funerals are for the purpose of mourning the loss of life. While these services are often referred to as a “celebration of life”, I don’t think it’s fair to require people to “celebrate” when they are sad. Definitely I want a focus on the fact that I’ll be in glory with my Lord forever, and no longer in pain, no longer in sin. So in that respect, it is a celebration. But it’s also a good time to be somber and consider eternity. Unless the Lord returns first, we will all die. It’s a reality that we don’t focus on much in our culture because we just don’t want to think about it. We have the pride of life in the forefront of our minds at all times. So, when someone is taken from us unexpectedly, we’re left reeling and lost. To some degree, that will always be the case in this life. But there are things we can do now to ease the burden on our loved ones as a final act of kindness and a final personal message for them from you.
These are some hymns that I currently have in mind. That may change if I come across any that I like more. I realize this is a lot of songs for a funeral service, and one or two may need to be left out.
I Will Glory in My Redeemer
Amazing Grace (I’d like all verses to be sung)
In Christ Alone
How Great Thou Art
I hope you haven’t considered this post to be overly morbid or depressing, but instead I hope it has brought you to a place of somber contemplation. Putting in a little time to plan for your funeral is a gift for your loved ones, whether you die next week or 48 years from now. Please feel free to share any songs or hymns you would like sung at your memorial service in the comments below.