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As part of my preparations for retirement some time next year, we have been renewing our wills, arranging for powers of attorney and writing letters of wishes regarding our funeral arrangements.

 

On Twitter, I asked people what hymns they would like to suggest for their own funerals.  This generated a considerable response – around 25 people suggested 1 – 5 hymns each.  These were:

 

Alleluia, sing to Jesus                                      1

Amazing Grace                                                  1

And can it be                                                      2

Before the throne of God above                              1

Be still my soul                                                  1

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind             1

Glorious things of thee are spoken          1

Glory to thee my God this night                1

God beyond all names                                   1

Guide me O thou great Redeemer           2

How shall I sing that majesty                       4

I heard the voice of Jesus say                     3

In Christ alone                                                   1

It is well with my soul                                     1

I vow to thee my country                             1

Jerusalem the golden                                    1

Jesu lover of my soul                                      2

Jesus the name high over all                       1

Just as I am                                                         2

Kontakion for the Departed                        3

Lead kindly light                                                2 (Tune: Alberta)

Let all mortal flesh keep silent                    1

Love divine all loves excelling                     4

Now thank we all our God                           1

Of the Father’s love begotten                    1

O happy band of pilgrims                              1

O Jesus I have promised                                               1

O Lord my God / How great thou art       2

O love that will not let me go                      1

O thou who camest from above                                1

Palms of glory                                                    1

Praise to the holiest in the height             1

Sweet sacrament divine                                               1

Tell out my soul                                                2

The Lord bless you and keep you              1

The old rugged cross                                      1

There is a redeemer                                       1

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy          1

Thine be the glory                                           6

We cannot measure how you heal           1

You shall go out with joy                               1

Rwy’n held o bell                                             1

Tydi a wnaeth                                                    1

 

The first thing that strikes one is how individual the choice of hymns are: 31 of the 42 hymns were chosen by one person.  The hymn most mentioned was “Thine be the glory” (6).  Most of the hymns are 19th century; Faber and Newman feature regularly. 

 

A large proportion of those who responded are ordained clergy of varying ages, but mostly, I suspect in middle years.  Their choices inevitably reflect who they are.  Some of the hymns are about Christ, the cross and the resurrection; some hymns are about our relationship with God and are chosen in some sense as a final prayer of commitment to Christ; some reflect on going beyond this life into the next. 

 

One person said he wanted no hymns.  Other respondents talked about hymns chosen for the funerals of parents – these were not included in the analysis, though they were moving accounts.  Some people talked about other pieces of music they wanted as part of their funerals.  These were:

                Judy Garland, Come on everyone get happy …

                Pasadena Roof Ocrchestra, Heaven, I’m in heaven

                Russian Orthodox Choir, Eternal Memory

Jimmy Webb, The Highwayman

The Clash, Straight to Hell

Spooky Men’s Choral, Crossing the Bar (my choice)

 

The analysis does not include the hymns I have chosen for my own funeral and/or memorial services.  My list is long, but it gives the family some room for choice:

I heard the voice of Jesus say

Be still my soul: the Lord is at your side

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness

When I survey the wondrous cross

Thine be the glory

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

To God be the glory! Great things he hath done

Ye who own the faith of Jesus

 

Thank you to all those who participated in this thread.  It helped me to focus on my own choices. 

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