Many funeral services incorporate Christian songs to serve as a source of comfort and strength for mourners. Spiritual songs in varying tempos are often played or sung to help uplift spirits and serve as a source of encouragement. These songs, which can be sung by individual soloists or choirs, are chosen by the family or those assisting in planning the funeral.
Christian songs with a fast tempo are often used to provide an atmosphere at a funeral in which the focus is on celebrating the life of the deceased person. Songs, including "We're Marching to Zion," "Victory in Jesus" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" are all popular songs for such an occasion. These songs are often used to help people focus on the fact that, as it states in Scripture, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." These songs can help lift the spirits of those left behind and serve as a reminder to them that their loved ones are still alive in heaven.
There are other Christian hymns that are often considered to be standard at funerals. Many of them have slower tempos and are ideal for helping set the tone for the somber event. "Going Home" is a popular song whose lyrics tell the story of being reunited with family members and friends who have already died: "Momma's there expecting me, papa's waiting, too, lots of folk gathered there, all the friends I knew." The hymn "Amazing Grace" is also a popular classic.
Solo Songs at Funerals
In addition to hymns sung by the congregation at a Christian funeral, people often request specific songs be sung by soloists. Some songs include: "The Lord's Prayer," "How Great Thou Art" and "The Lord is my Shepherd." When solos are sung at funerals, it is not uncommon for there to be minimal accompaniment, unless when in an environment known for using bands and a large number of musicians, as is often the case in New Orleans.
Songs by Choirs
There are some songs at funerals that are popular for choirs to sing. Some of these include: "A Mighty Fortress is our God," "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." "Let the Church say Amen" and "I Am God" are also popular among gospel choirs. Whichever songs one chooses, the most important thing to remember is that the songs should provide comfort as well as a sense of peace for the family.
- The United Methodist Reporter: History of Hymns: ‘Just a Closer Walk’ Remains a Traditional Song for Jazz Funerals
- Funeral Home Resource: Top Ten Funeral Songs
- My Last Song: Funeral Hymns
- Pat McNees: Music for Funerals and Memorial Services
- Encyclopedia of Louisiana: Jazz Funerals and Second Line Parades
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