For the third blog post on choices of funeral hymns we look at one person’s choice in detail. We’ve had some choices from clergy and some of bishops now we focus, with a little more detail on one priest’s choice.
The choice of hymns for funerals reflect the times, and, of course, they reflect the personality and preferences of the people choosing them. For his funeral, the Revd Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) requested The Saints of God, their conflict past (to the tune REST by Stainer) and My God, My Father, While I Stray (to the tune TROYTE, No. 1). Both represented a personal choice, and reflected Dodgson’s spirituality. Although in Dodgson’s day these were modern hymns neither would be common choices today, indeed neither are found in modern hymn books.
In a recent article the distinguished Roman Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins SJ gives his choice of hymns for his requiem mass. It is an interesting, personal and helpful selection. In his discussion of his choices Fr O’Collins has the preferences of family and friends, and himself, in mind.
Entrance hymn: I heard the voice of Jesus Say to be sung to KINGSFOLD. O’Collins comments this is seldom sung at funerals, and he’d like to see it as a ‘parting gift to family and friends.’
For the psalm: The Lord’s my Shepherd to CRIMOND. (To put people ‘back on familiar ground.’)
Communion Hymn: Magnificat sung as Tell out my soul by Timothy Dudley-Smith. A version which reflects the ‘radiant joy of the Virgin Mary.’
Song of Farewell: Come to his aid, O saints of God sung to AMAZING GRACE (for words see below)
and finally, as the resurrection has been the theme of many of his books O’Collins chooses as a recessional hymn Thine be the Glory, risen, conquering Son.