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20 Best Funeral Hymns

Funeral hymns are a popular choice of religious music for funerals. There are dozens to choose from that can represent different tones, emotions, and experiences for a community. Funeral hymns can bring people comfort and joy at times of loss by bringing a community together to sing and be present together. Several funeral hymns have remained popular over the decades and continue to be sung by communities all over the U.S. and the world.

The funeral hymns you choose can be a key part of setting the tone for the funeral. Some are somber, while others are more celebratory of life and one's relationship with God. When choosing funeral hymns, consider which hymns your loved one enjoyed, along with which ones you feel will help you and your family most. Music can be a powerful factor when processing grief.

The following list of hymns has been hand-picked to cover a variety of types of funerals, which you can use for any funeral or memorial service. If you feel unsure about which hymns to use, consider hosting a listening party first with close family members to discuss them, or share this list with others via email or online to ask for feedback.

Once you've created a plan for your loved one's funeral, you may want consider creating a memorial website to easily share the information with friends and family for free.

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20. Death is Only a Dream

This common funeral hymn encourages the singers and listeners to not only focus on the sad aspects of death, and to remember that the deceased is laying in the arms of the Lord. In one section, it sings, "Why should we weep when the weary ones rest / In the bosom of Jesus supreme / In the mansion of glory prepared for the blessed / For death is no more than a dream."



19. The Lord is My Shepherd

"The Lord is My Shepherd" was written by James Montgomery and is based on Psalm 23. Both the psalm and the hymn are commonly used in funerals, as many people interpret them to be about the Lord guiding them through the living world and into the house of the Lord. One of the most well recognized lines of the psalm reads, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

The funeral hymn reads:

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff my comfort still.
My table Thou hast furnished me
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore,
My dwelling place shall be.



18. Jerusalem

The hymn, "Jerusalem," began as a poem written by William Blake in 1804, but it was added to music written by Hubert Parry in 1916 and grew in popularity from there. In fact, many people consider it to be England's national anthem, despite England technically not having a national anthem. The common interpretation that the poem/hymn is about Jesus bringing Heaven to England has made it a common funeral hymn, especially in the U.K.



17. The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended

The hymn, "The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended tells the listener that, even though each day ends, the throne of the Lord will never pass away. Many funeral attendees find this message helpful and take it to mean that even after a life on earth has ended, their loved one will still love on in the kingdom of the Lord. The full funeral hymn reads:

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.



16. I Watch the Sunrise

"I Watch the Sunrise" is a beautiful hymn by John Glynn that talks about the Lord being with us throughout the day and night. This adapts wonderfully as a funeral hymn, reminding the listeners that their loved one is still with them. The chorus sings, "For you are always close to me / Following all my ways. / May I be always close to you / Following all your ways, Lord."



15. Ave Maria

"Ave Maria" was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825 as part of his Opus 52. While there are several versions by different singers in different languages, most people in the U.S. use the Latin prayer version as a funeral hymn:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
The hour, the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
Hail Mary!



14. Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

The hymn, "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" was written using lyrics from the poem, "The Brewing of Soma" by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. It describes what Whittier sees as the true method of being in contact with God:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!



13. Thine be the Glory

"Thine be the Glory" is an Easter Christian hymn that was written by Swiss writer Edmond Budry. The original was written in French in 1747, and it was translated to English in 1923 by Richard B. Hoyle. Hoyle's translation differs somewhat from the direct French to English translation of the original, but the meaning remains in tact. The hymn is listed in the Church of England's funeral services hymn book. Here's Hoyle's translation:

Thine is the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
endless is the vict'ry Thou o’er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where Thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
endless is the vict'ry Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb.
Lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let His church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for the Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
endless is the vict'ry Thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life!!
Life is nought without Thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conqu'rors, through Thy deathless love;
bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.
Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son;
endless is the vict'ry Thou o’er death hast won.



12. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

First published in 1747, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" is one of the most popular hymns written by Charles Wesley. Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement and wrote an estimated 6,500 hymns in total. Here are the words:

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.



11. Blessed Assurance

"Blessed Assurance" was written in the 1800's by Francis Jane Crosby, a teacher at the New Yor Institute for the Blind who frequently wrote poetry and her friend and composer, Phoebe Palmer Knapp. Here are the words:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.



10. Be Thou My Vision

"Be Thou My Vision" is an Irish hymn from the 8th century. Originally translated to English in 1912 by Eleanor Hull, it's grown in popularity in recent years, as several Christian artists have recorded versions of it, making it a common funeral hymn. Here are the English lyrics:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art -
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.



9. What a Friend We Have in Jesus

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus" was written by Irish-born Joseph Scriven in 1855 after hearing that his mother had fallen ill. The original poem was called "Pray Without Ceasing" and was intended to provide comfort to his mother. It was later put to music and renamed by Charles Crozat Converse. Scriven experienced several significant losses in his life, including the death of two fiancées before he could marry either. The first accidentally drowned the night before their wedding. Here is the hymn:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.



8. Great is Thy Faithfulness

Based on the phrase from the Old Testament Book of Lamentations 3:23, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923. He sent the poem to William Runyan, who set it to music and published it the same year. It became a well-known hymn among Christians after being frequently used by both Henry Houghton and Billy Graham. The hymn launched into popular culture in 2015 when Jordan Smith sung a version of the hymn during the 9th season of The Voice. His cover reached #1 on the Christian music charts and number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. Here are the lyrics:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.



7. Morning Has Broken



6. The Old Rugged Cross



5. All Things Bright and Beautiful



4. How Great Thou Art



3. Abide With Me



2. Going Home



1. Amazing Grace




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February 2018
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