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November 22, 2013


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I don't know what hymns I want at my funeral. I've always considered the funeral to be a ceremony about the dead but *for* the living, so my chief mourner should get to pick.

My husband always said that a funeral should be a celebration of life rather than a lamentation of loss, and he wanted his funeral to be the biggest party he'd ever had. Despite my introversion, I did that for him. Two hundred and fifty people came, that's bigger than our wedding was.

I picked the hymns mostly to please myself: "Hymn of Promise" and "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." The children requested "Amazing Grace," which I rather dislike but included because they asked for it. Then, the madrigal choir I had sung with at Purdue came and sang "Dona Nobis Pacem." It was beautiful.

The poem on the funeral cards was Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband."

I thought about including Chris Tomlin's song "I Will Follow" but it did not seem to fit. I also considered "You Are Mine" and "The Trees of the Fields," which were the songs that began and ended our wedding, but they really are not funeral music, and I doubt anyone but me would have recognized that I was using the wedding music.

I don't recall what we did about scripture readings. I think the pastor might have included something in his homily, but I don't recall what it was, and I didn't have a strong opinion about what it should be.

We're United Methodists, but our friends and family are a cross section of the creeds and faiths represented in the US, so we didn't have communion and we alternated music and messages from the pastor and the three eulogists.

I totally agree with you on "Eagle's Wings."

Jewish funerals don't have any music or flowers, and that always bothers me terrible - true wishes or a sign of pervasive influence by mainstream Christian culture? Anyway, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about music I would like for different funerals, usually not religious. I'm going to ask to play Raoui by Souad Massi at my grandmother's funeral (may it be distant, of course). My husband wants "I'm going underground", which I rather like as well, and Blake's "New Jerusalem", if it will be in the Jerusalem cemetery. I also wonder about a setting for Psalm 121:6 which I've hears sung on Rosh Hashanna: it seems fitting and comforting for the mourners.

When we were planning Eva's funeral, our priest gave us reading options - do you want this gospel reading, or this other one? I don't know if that's standard, or because we were only ankle deep in the church then, and mostly looked at him with wide, stunned eyes.
I love your music choices.

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