Last week, Catherine and I had the privilege of leading a few songs at the funeral of a wonderful lady we both knew at the church where we met and married. Joan Gepford knew and loved Jesus, so while we mourned her death, we rejoiced in her life and the hope of heaven.
Choosing songs for a funeral is a difficult task. Some funerals are harder than others, particularly when the death is unexpected or the person did not appear to know Jesus. But every funeral is hard, and every person attending is experiencing some level of pain and sadness. Many do not feel like singing at all, some are not Christians, some are seriously questioning God’s goodness and/or existence, and people from a variety of churches (with a variety of repertoires) are in one room.
I don’t know why God didn’t heal Joan Gepford of cancer and allow her to hold her newborn Granddaughter. But I do know God is good, God is faithful, and that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in (him), though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25).
That’s the good news of the Gospel – and that’s what the songs we sing at funerals should declare. Here are some suggestions for congregational songs and solo songs:
Beautiful Savior (All My Days) by Stuart Townend
- “I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer. I will sing of the blood that never fails, of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed, of death defeated and life without end…”
- “I long to be where the praise is never-ending, yearn to dwell where the glory never fades: where countless worshippers will share one song and cries of ‘worthy’ will honor the Lamb”
In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty
- “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny…”
The Power of the Cross by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty
- “Oh to see my name written in the wounds, for through Your suffering I am free. Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live, won through your selfless love…”
There is a Higher Throne by Keith and Kristyn Getty
- “Before the Son we’ll stand, made faultless through the Lamb. Believing hearts find promised grace, salvation comes…”
Before the Throne of God Above by Charitie Lees Bancroft, Vikki Cook
- “One with himself I cannot die. My soul is purchased with his blood. My life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ my Savior and my God.”
It is Well with My Soul by Horatio Spafford
- “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me so say ‘it is well, it is well with my soul…” “…Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed his own blood for my soul…” “…my sin not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more…”
Amazing Love (My Lord What Love is This) by Graham Kendrick
- “Amazing love, oh what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me. My debt he pays and my death he dies that I might live…”
- “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace; to Thy fountain, Lord, I fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”
- “And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete, ‘Jesus died my soul to save’ my lips shall still repeat…”
- The new bridge by Kristian Stanfill says: “oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead”.
I Will Glory in My Redeemer by Steve and Vikki Cook
- “I will glory in my Redeemer whose priceless blood has ransomed me… who crushed the power of sin and death, my only Savior before the Holy Judge, the Lamb who is my righteousness…”
- “I will glory in my Redeemer who waits for me at gates of gold. And when He calls me, it will be paradise, His face forever to behold…”
- “Crown Him the Lord of life who triumphed o’er the grave, who rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save. His glories now we sing, who died and rose on high, who died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die.”
It is Not Death to Die by Henri Malan, George Bethune, and Bob Kauflin
- “Jesus, conquering the grave, Your precious blood has power to save. Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find that it is not death to die.”
Hide Away in the Love of Jesus by Steve and Vikki Cook
- “Come hopeless hearts, do not despair, hide away in the love of Jesus, for ten thousand joys await you there, hide away in the love of Jesus. Hear Him calling your name, see the depths of His love in the wounds of His grace. Hide away.”
There is a Hope by Stuart Townend and Mark Edwards
- “I stand in Christ with sins forgiven, and Christ in me, the hope of heaven…”
- “Through present sufferings, future’s fear, He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear. For I am safe in everlasting arms, and they will lead me home.”
- “There is a hope that stands the test of time, that lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave, to see the matchless beauty of a day divine when I behold His face! When sufferings cease and sorrows die, and every longing satisfied, then joy unspeakable will flood my soul for I am truly home.”
I’m sure I’m leaving out a number of other gospel-centered songs that work well at funerals, so please feel free to share any I’ve missed.