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Song has long been a part of funeral traditions. For Catholics, singing together during a service or mass is an essential part of honoring both the deceased person and God.
There are more hymns available for Catholic funerals than can be sung in just one funeral. Most songs that are appropriate for Sunday Mass are also appropriate for the funeral of a cherished Catholic.
A Catholic funeral will have at least three songs: Entrance Processional, Communion Song, Offertory Song, and Recessional Song. Today we are exploring the best choice for each of the four parts of a Catholic funeral.
This hymn offers a comforting message to mourners entering a funeral service. The idea of God as a guide through the troubles of life reminds guests that death cannot be controlled by any other than He.
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 me comfort still.
My table thou hast furnished
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 for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.
'Ave Maria,' meaning 'Hail Mary' in Latin, is an uplifting, time-honored hymn that is beautiful to the point of being overwhelming. Especially in the context of a funeral, this hymn is especially impactful for folks of any faith.
Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'd, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer,
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! stainless styled.
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Sung in both Catholic and Protestant worships, this hymn is a reminder that God will bear the pain of mourners. Knowing that the deceased person is cared for by God, as are all people on earth is a message worth repeating when grieving a loss.
I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
I, who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
I, the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people's pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away
I will break their hearts of stone
Give them hearts for love alone
I will speak my words to them
Whom shall I send?
I, the Lord of wind and flame
I will send the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide
'Til their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall I send?
'Amazing Grace' is a song commonly played at funerals, regardless of religious affiliation. In Catholic ceremonies, it can take any position within the service, although many families choose to sing this hymn as the Entrance Processional. However, it can be even more impactful when played as a Recessional Song, as it brings closure to grievers as the funeral wraps up.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas 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,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The world shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun refuse to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.
Almost any Catholic hymn can be incorporated into a funeral service. Additionally, most Catholic hymns are appropriate in any of the four parts of a service in which music will be sung. Select music that is right for your family, and honors the beliefs of the deceased person of honor, and the ceremony will be memorable, and healing for all.
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