Clergy choose funeral hymns

chants-for-socialists-uComments are still made about the hymns Fr Ken Leech chose for his funeral at St Chrysostom’s. Of particular interest was the choice of  All for the Cause from William Morris’ Chants for Socialists. (The liturgy including the words of this and all the hymns can be found here). The Requiem Mass began with a harvest hymn Come, ye thankful people, come and also included another hymn referring to harvest How great the harvest is of Him who came to save us.

Understandably clergy are often interested in the choice of hymns made for funerals. For this blog post we’ve turned the tables and asked a few clergy for their choice for their funerals.

Sometimes the choice reflects family tradition. Thus one priest chose the nowadays seldom sung  Pleasant are thy courts abovenot only because he liked it but also because it was sung at his mother’s funeral. His other choices were Lord of beauty, thine the splendour and Fr Faber’s There’s a wideness in God’s mercy. The latter was chosen particularly for the phrase we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own;and we magnify its strictness with a zeal he will not own.

bonhoeffAnother priest friend replied to our request with “I’ve been planning my funeral for years, but the hymns keep changing! Currently an ‘almost certain’ is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s By gracious powers, so wonderfully sheltered, written in the concentration camp shortly before his death. To the tune FINLANDIA.” We’d also like to suggest the tune HIGHWOOD.

Fr Chris mentions that he has given the subject some thought, since Fr Ken’s funeral, “Present thinking would be Jesus lives, thy terrors now… and J M Neale’s translation of Ye choirs of new Jerusalem.” He adds “This is rather traditional I know. I hope that folk would sing up!”

Our friend Fr Michael Burgess writes  “The two that I would go for are Jesu, grant me this I pray (Tune SONG 13 by Gibbons) and Hark what a sound and too divine for hearing (Tune HIGHWOOD).” Fr Michael adds “The latter is rarely sung but the hymn has fine words by F W H Myers and that wonderful tune by R R Terry. ” Here is a link to a brass band rendering of the beautiful tune.

This is the first in a November series on the blog of hymn choices for funerals. In our second in the series we look at Church of England’s bishops’ choices (click here), and in the third (click here) at the choices of a distinguished RC priest .

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community where people of differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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