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Funeral plans

War Cry comment on funeral songs

Funerals do not have to be dire or dour

THE Victorians set great store by a person having a ‘good death’. Cricketers are not alone in describing an elderly loved one as having had a ‘good

innings’. The aim for many families is to ensure that their nearest and dearest has a good send-off. In reality, though, there is little that is good about dying. There is little to be said for bereavement, sadness and devastation.

A good funeral, though, can help. It can offer the bereaved a sense of closure and comfort, and be a celebration of a life well lived. A Christian funeral assures mourners of some deeper truths: that God will strengthen those who are left and that eternal life awaits all those who place their trust in Jesus Christ.

Traditionally, such biblical truths have been reflected in the choice of funeral hymns, such as the popular ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’. But with society’s looser hold on Christianity, some funeral hymn sheets look more like an ageing rock band’s set-list. According to research undertaken by insurers SunLife, 82 per cent of people over 50 do not want a hymn at their

funeral. The company has also compiled a top ten of songs that people say they would choose to have for their funeral. For the age group who were educated in the days of school-assembly hymn-singing, the list – topped by Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ – includes

‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Bat out of Hell’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’.


Whatever the songs, whatever the reasons, one thing is certain – in the mind of the mourners the music will be associated with that funeral for ever after. On every subsequent hearing, the thoughts it conveyed and the emotions that it stirred will replay.

Funerals do not have to be dire or dour. Without denying loss and sadness, they can be uplifting and celebratory. Especially for those who know the Rock of Ages.

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