Funeral Hymns 0

funeral hymns

Not everyone wants or has a religious funeral service, but for those who do, funeral hymns play an important part in the memorial process. Hymns can take many different forms and be uplifting, sad, melancholic or inspirational, just like other types of music. With this in mind, we take a look at ten of the most popular hymns for funerals.

Your chosen funeral director will be able to assist you in picking funeral hymns. You can compare from over 1,500 funeral directors all over the UK using our handy directory. Simply head here to get started.

10. All Things Bright and Beautiful

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is an Anglican funeral hymn written in the 17th century. The lyrics are by Cecil Frances Alexander. It’s a very popular Christian funeral hymn. There’s probably no better known hymn in the UK, this is a good choice for those that want to have all those in attendance singing in full voice. A beautiful hymn dedicated to the celebration of all things living, it contains a positive message of love that can prove a great help on a difficult day.

Listen to “All Things Bright and Beautiful” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the lord god made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colours,
he made their little wings.
The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset and the morning,
that brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
the meadows where we play,
the rushes by the water,
we gather every day.

9. Shine Jesus Shine

Shine Jesus Shine is another uplifting hymn that asks us to celebrate life and God’s work rather than mourning the deceased. A modern composition, this hymn may not be as well-known among the older attendees, but it is always wonderful when sung in remembrance.

Listen to “Shine Jesus Shine” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the father’s glory
Blaze, spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light
Lord, i come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood i may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me
As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

8. Jerusalem

Based on William Blake’s poem And did those feet in ancient time, this incredibly popular hymn occupies a special spot in the English collective conscious, with some suggesting that it should be the country’s anthem. If you like a rousing piece of religious music, you can’t go wrong with this, and it crops up time and again as one of the most popular Church of England hymns for funerals.

Listen to “Jerusalem” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of god
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear, oh clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
Songwriters: Rupert Christie / William Blake / Charles Parry
Jerusalem lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

7. Do Not Be Afraid

For some, death is not something to be frightened of and should be considered a natural part of life itself. For others, it is something to fear. This hymn offers sympathy and consolation to those who are afraid of the end and is often sung at funerals across the country.

Listen to “Do Not Be Afraid” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When you walk through the waters I’ll be with you,
You will never sink beneath the waves.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When the fire is burning all around you,
You will never be consumed by the flames.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When the fear of loneliness is looming,
Then remember I am at your side.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When you dwell in the exile of a stranger,
Remember you are precious in my eyes.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

You are mine, O my child; I am your father,
And I love you with a perfect love.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

Songwriters: Gerald Markland

6. Amazing Grace

This hymn revolves around the idea of salvation and the deep peace one can find in death. It is one of the most popular hymns for Catholic funerals in the UK and many people find it a reassuring piece of music that can be delivered with real emotion.

Listen to “Amazing Grace” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home
Amazing grace, Howe Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.

Songwriters: Steve Abbott / Simon Lole / Ian Tilley / Traditional / Unknown Writer
Amazing Grace lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

5. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Sung at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, this hymn was written by the famous composer Charles Wesley and remains one of his most popular pieces of music. Though it deals with earthly love and relations, it tries to place such love in the context of the much larger, all-encompassing love of God.

Listen to “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
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 ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of 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.

Songwriters: Charles Wesley

4. Ave Maria

While Schubert’s adaptation Ave Maria also made it into our post detailing the top ten pieces of classical music to be played at funerals, there’s a number of different versions of this piece of music to enjoy and replicate at a Catholic or Church of England funeral service.

Listen to “Ave Maria” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, Ave Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus,
Benedictus fructos ventris tui,
Tui Jesus
Ave Maria
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, Ave Dominus, dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus,
Benedictus fructos ventris tui,
Tui Jesus
Ave Maria
Ave Maria

Songwriters: Charles Francois Gounod / John William Lenehan / Malcolm Messiter / Nigel Kennedy
Ave Maria lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

3. I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say

I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say is a hymn centred on the idea that comfort can be found in Jesus during difficult or testing times. This makes it an apt choice for those struggling with the loss of a loved one in need of consoling.

Listen to “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Come on to me and rest’
Lay down thy weary,
Weary one lay down,
Lay thy head upon my breast.
I went to Jesus as I was,
I was weary, worn and sad
I found in Him a resting place
And He has made me glad.
Take my yoke upon you
And learn about me,
For my yoke is easy
And my burdens are light
And my burdens are light
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Behold I freely give’
Oh, the living waters, oh thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Come on to me and rest’
You’ve got to Lay down thy weary,
Weary one lay down,
Lay thy head upon my breast.
I went to Jesus as I was,
You know I was weary, worn and sad
I found in Him, yes I found in him a resting place
Oh, you know He’s made… me glad.
I heard the voice, yes of Jesus say
‘Behold I freely give’
Oh, the living waters, oh thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.
Oh I wonder, I wonder you could ever hear me?
I keep on calling, you’ve got to hear me
Oh, I’m pleading, everybody hear my plead
Oh, Jesus, hear my name, Oh Jesus
I said: ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’
I’m pleading, I’m pleading
You’ve got to hear me, yeah
You’ve got to hear me calling
I’m calling ‘Jesus’, I keep calling
I said Yeah…, Jesus
I’ve just to keep on calling,
Calling your name, I just call, I just call…
Yeah Yeah, You’ve got to hear me, hear me
Hear me, hear me calling, yes I do,
You’ve got to hear me
I said Yeah…, Jesus Ahh…
You’ve got to hear me, Jesus
I keep calling, calling your name
Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus,
I’m calling, calling your name I keep on calling
Hold down my name
I pray, I pray… Yes, I’m praying
Jesus, hear my, hear my call…

Songwriters: Daniel Scott / Trad
I Heard the Voice of Jesus lyrics © Fox Music A Division Of Classic Fox Records L, Vine Ridge Music, WIM WENDERS STIFTUNG

2. Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken is another composition that can provide a little positivity and light in moments of darkness and despair. Concerned with matters of new life and rebirth, most will know both the words and music due to its regular performance in schools and churches.

Listen to “Morning Has Broken” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Songwriters: Eleanor Farjeon / Yusuf Islam
Morning Has Broken lyrics © BMG Rights Management

1. Be Thou My Vision

As this hymn deals with the issue of God as guide and divine vision, it’s often chosen to be sung at funerals. With both the deceased and mourners requiring direction and assistance, this call for help and guidance can offer some consolation.

Listen to “Be Thou My Vision” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

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.

Songwriters: Eleanor Hull
Be Thou My Vision lyrics © Oxford University Press

 

If you still haven’t found the funeral hymn that you’re looking for. Take a look at our playlist compilation of the most popular funeral hymns on Spotify. We have a selection ranging from uplifting, gospel, Catholic, Baptist and Anglican hymns for funerals below.

If we’ve missed out any good funeral hymns, please let us know in the comment section below and we’ll add it to our playlist. Thank you!

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7 Tips from Celebrants on Writing a Great Funeral Speech 0

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

Giving a funeral speech can be a nerve-wracking experience. Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte — and there’s always the question of what you should (and shouldn’t) say.

So, what makes a great speech at a funeral? We spoke to four experienced celebrants — people who write and deliver eulogies professionally — to get their top tips on writing a funeral speech that feels right.

 

How to write a funeral speech, according to real celebrants

We spoke to Clive, Melanie, Kate and Adrienne for their tips on writing a brilliant funeral speech.

 

  1. writing a funeral speechWork out the length

“A five-minute speech would typically be 600 to 650 words,” says Clive Pashley, from Premier Celebrants. Most people talk at a rate of about 125 words a minute, he explains. But the more nervous you are, the faster you’ll speak.

If you get to choose how long your speech will be, ask for only as much time as you can manage. “Remember: you’re grieving, and the longer you’re up there, the harder it gets,” says Melanie Sopp, celebrant and interfaith minister. “Even two minutes can feel like an eternity.”

 

  1. Choose a topic

“Start by sorting out what the theme is,” says Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy, a celebrant from East Yorkshire. “What do you actually want to get people to understand, what is the whole basis of the speech?”

  • Eulogies are where you tell the life story of the person who has died, from beginning to end.
  • Tributes are typically shorter — 5-minute speeches on a treasured memory, anecdote, or theme from the person’s life.

“When you’re talking about somebody’s life, you talk about their passions: follow what they loved and what their strengths were,” says Kate Mitchell, who leads ceremonies in the South East. Eulogies follow a certain pattern (from birth to death), so it’s simply a case of pulling out those key moments that really reveal something.

For tributes, Melanie recommends writing about “things that mean something to you — whether it’s a personal memory, an anecdote, gratitude, or acknowledging somebody’s courage in the face of a long illness.” Family gatherings, holidays and first meetings are all good starting points for a funeral speech.

The most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,”

  1. Follow your instincts

Not sure what to say in a funeral speech? Go with your gut.

“Just sit down and write what’s in your head, even if it’s a jumbled mess,” says Melanie. “Then go back through it to revise it and pick out what needs to be said on the day.”

Clive adds: “Don’t second guess yourself. If you think of a memory and it feels right, it’s important to you and it’s something that you shared — and if you think your friend or loved one would like you to share it — then I would go ahead and include it.”

 

  1. Be even-handed

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

“Make sure your speech is as unbiased as possible,” says Adrienne. “Gather information from different parts of the family, so you actually get an accurate picture of what happened and what [the person who has died] was like.”

To get the information you need for your funeral speech, you may have to put your own opinions to one side. “Don’t be argumentative when you are taking the information, and don’t put your viewpoint first,” Adrienne stresses.

Clive agrees. “Some people use their time at the microphone to try and settle a score or get one up on someone. That’s obviously a real no-no,” he says, adding that such funeral speeches can be “excruciatingly embarrassing.”

 

  1. Be honest — even about the difficult bits

Talking about someone with a complicated or difficult history? All our celebrants agreed on one thing: not to flinch away from talking about it.

Person leaning against a fence by a lakeThe most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,” says Kate. “To honour the person who has died, you need to talk about who they are, and not what people might want to hear about.”

“That doesn’t mean a litany of things that they did wrong — and it doesn’t have to be the gory details. It’s about telling the truth but being kind.”

“Acknowledge that they did have issues,” says Adrienne. “I lead a funeral service once for someone who was an alcoholic, and the family said that yes, he had issues with alcohol, and he tried to turn away from it, but unfortunately the issue was too big a problem for him to overcome. There are tactful ways of saying these things.”

Honesty can be cathartic. Melanie gave a difficult eulogy for her father and says that the experience was “Liberating. It was an honest account of that relationship. I don’t regret it.”

 

  1. Remember, it’s not all about you

Man and woman at a funeralIf you’re writing a funeral speech after losing a friend or family member, you’re understandably going to be in a lot of emotional pain. But while you should feel open to expressing how you feel, it’s important not to make the speech all about you.

“Just be careful not to make it too centred on yourself, and make sure it really does focus on the person who’s passed away,” says Clive.

When talking about others, specific names also are important, he stresses. “Try to avoid saying ‘we’ or ‘they’ unless it’s obvious who you’re referring to. Otherwise, it can be a little ambiguous and hard to follow.”

 

  1. Don’t be flowery, be specific

A lot of people feel that since a funeral is a serious occasion, funeral speeches should use serious, impressive language. Not so, say our celebrants.

“If their name was David, but they were known as Dave, call them Dave! Keep it personal,” says Adrienne.

“Don’t try and be clever and write flowery phases! Everybody thinks that they need to, but someone isn’t suddenly different because they died,” Kate explains. “If you can be specific, and base your speech on real things that happened, that’s best.”

“The songs you used to listen to together, the ways he used to stir his tea — those are the sorts of details that are specific to that person, and that’s what makes a great eulogy.”

 

For more inspiration…

For more ideas on things to say in a funeral speech, you can’t go wrong with our article on funeral speech examples. It’s filled with touching and sometimes even funny eulogies from real people.

Feeling nervous about an upcoming funeral speech? We followed up with Melanie, Clive, Adrienne and Kate to find out how to overcome your jitters. Check out their tips and tricks here.

 


 Meet the celebrants

Clive Pashley started Premier Celebrants with his friend, James Greely, in 2016. They were later joined by Rachel Nussey. He and his team offer professional and bespoke funeral service planning across the Midlands.

Rev. Melanie Sopp is a celebrant and interfaith minister, working across the Midlands and the South coast. Melanie runs the excellent Celebrant Academy, which trains celebrants to create ceremonies and lead services of all kinds.

Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy was inspired to become a celebrant after losing her husband. Now, she leads unique, personal funeral services across Hull and East Yorkshire. With a friend, Adrienne runs Memories of Me, a service that allows people to plan their own funeral services.

Kate Mitchell is a creative independent celebrant working in the South East: her stomping grounds include Kent, Surrey and Sussex. As well as funerals, Kate leads thoughtful wedding and baby-naming ceremonies.

The Unexpected Rise of Cremation Jewellery 0

cremation jewellery
If you stopped someone on the street 15 years ago and asked them whether they had any human ashes on them, they would have thought you were mad.
 
Now – well, they’ll probably still think you’re mad – but you’re far more likely to get a “yes” for an answer. More and more people are carrying a loved one’s ashes with them in ‘keepsake’ jewellery. A once-tiny industry is suddenly flourishing. But why this, and why now?
 

Memorial jewellery has a history

This is not a new thing. The Victorians (ever morbid) were keen on memorial jewellery of all kinds. Often made from jet and other black materials, these pieces fit with the strict mourning dress code of the day
 
At the time, British cremation was still in its infancy. So, Victorian memorial jewellery didn’t usually contain ashes. But many pieces contained a small memento, like a lock of hair. They were a way to show the world that you treasured a loved one’s memory.
 
Eventually, memorial jewellery fell out of fashion. People were living longer, and by WWI the culture around death and mourning had shifted. But the precedent was set…
 

Attitudes towards cremation have changed

Cremation was controversial at first. The British Home Office banned the first crematorium from use shortly after its construction. It took years (and lawsuits) before cremations could regularly take place.
 
But, by the late 1960s, the number of families choosing this option had overtaken burial. And as that number grew, there was a gradual shift in what people decided to do with the ashes, as well.
 
In the 60s, around 80% of families buried or scattered ashes in the remembrance garden at the crematorium. Now, that figure is completely reversed, with 80% of families taking the ashes away with them. 
 
Preferences have also shifted away from the big-urn-on-the-mantlepiece towards scattering. People often don’t want the ashes (and there are alot of ashes) in the house. While it can be comforting to keep a loved one close by, large urns can be intimidating, and the question of where to put them equally daunting
 
By comparison, scattering the ashes on a hillside or river has real romantic appeal. It can feel like more of a final resting place. A small ceremony, somewhere that resonates with the person they love, can offer a kind of closure. In fact, 79% of people who want a cremation would like their ashes scattered.
 


A happy medium

Ashes jewellery

But scattering does have drawbacks. More than a few people who have scattered ashes have found themselves missing them. By then, it’s too late to do anything about it. So, many of us have started to wonder if there was a way to do both: put the person to rest, but also keep them close. 

 
Enter ashes jewellery. Families can scatter most of the ashes, and keep a small amount back to place in a locket or ring. And over the last few years, this way of memorialising someone seems to have blossomed. Now, there is a wide selection of ashes jewellery to choose from. From hollow pendants to clever pieces with the ashes held in glass or resin, there’s something for everyone
 
But, unlike Victorian memorial pieces, these new designs are subtle. Rather than broadcasting the owner’s loss, they allow the wearer to feel close to their loved one – without anyone the wiser.
 

Future or fad?

Only time will tell if ashes jewellery is a brief fashion or here to stay. But most people are at least aware of the option, and a number of companies have sprung up to meet this need. It’s also possible we’ll never know quite how popular ashes jewellery is. After all, with the new pieces being so discreet, who else is to know you’re wearing them – unless you tell them …