Funeral Hymns

Alice Wisler
Hymns play a vital role at a funeral.

Funeral hymns are usually included in a service when a loved one dies.

The Value of Hymns at a Funeral

Hymns have made their way into our culture and churches. They give flavor and reverence to a church service. They express the feelings and faith of people through the generations. Funeral hymns provide the following for those attending the service in memory of a loved one.

  • Solace
  • Comfort
  • Hope
  • God's love
  • Promise of heaven
  • Provision by God
  • Forgiveness
  • Resurrection of the body
  • Faith of the deceased
  • Faith of those left behind

Titles of Popular Funeral Hymns

The following are hymns that are either sung or played at funerals or memorial services.

  • God Be in My Head
  • Amazing Grace
  • When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
  • O God, Our Help in Ages Past
  • O Strength and Stay
  • Nearer My God to Thee
  • The Day of Resurrection
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • The Lord's My Shepherd
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • I'll Walk With God

O, God, Our Help in Ages Past

A familiar and popular hymn written by Issac Watts in 1719, is often sung or played in protestant funeral services today. The last stanza speaks of heaven being our eternal home and for this reason, it is a hymn that brings hope."O God, our help in ages past,

our hope for years to come,

our shelter from the stormy blast,

and our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne,

thy saints have dwelt secure;

sufficient is thine arm alone,

and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,

or earth received her frame,

from everlasting thou art God,

to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight

are like an evening gone;

short as the watch that ends the night

before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

bears all its sons away;

they fly, forgotten, as a dream

dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,

our hope for years to come,

be thou our guide while troubles last,

and our eternal home!"

Accompaniment

Since funerals come in all shapes and sizes, the hymns need to be diverse as well. A variety of instruments may be used such as piano, organ, flute, harp and violin. More contemporary services may have a guitarist play the music. Some funerals may not have hymns at all and one of the reasons could be because the church where the deceased attending did not use hymns in their Sunday services. If this is the case, other songs will be played and sung. Family members do try to honor the wishes of the one who has died. If a particular song or hymn was well-liked by the deceased, it will usually be selected to be part of the funeral service. Personalizing a funeral is always a good idea.

Protestant Order of Service

Often the singing and playing of hymns are sprinkled throughout the service. Someone decides the order of the service, and it is usually printed in a program. Readings, eulogies, special music and hymns are often part of a memorial or funeral service. If you are involved with planning the service, you will want to make sure that the decisions you make are well-received by others who were close to the deceased.

Catholic Mass

Catholic churches have a more defined order for a funeral Mass. Usually at these Masses the following is observed:

  • Entrance where a hymn is played
  • Reading of a Psalm
  • Offertory where a hymn is played
  • Communion where a hymn is offered
  • Recessional which usually is something in Latin

Attending a Funeral

Funerals can be difficult to attend. However, know that your presence is meaningful and appreciated by those who have lost a loved one or family member. Even if you do not feel your voice sounds like it belongs with the choir or the angels, you can softly sing the lines of the funeral hymns and be comforted.

Funeral Hymns