Augustine told us that the “law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, what touches the heart is what tends to be remembered and treasured. In our day we could easily say that the law of song is the law of belief. I have many volumes of systematic theology on my shelves. Few of those will ever be read by the average believer, and not one line in any of those books will be remembered more than the lyrics of beloved hymns. If music is a vital means of imparting spiritual truth to the hearts of God’s people, then it’s important we present as full a spectrum of theology as possible. That includes the reality of death.
“…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” – Hebrews 9:27
We all face the inevitability of it. Sometimes we’re reminded by the sudden and shocking departure of a loved one, or their slow descent into the shadows of death through disease. Sometimes the descent is our own. What about our young men and women in the military, or our police and rescue squads that place themselves in harms way? What about their families who face the threat with them? How do we prepare our people to view death through the prism of hope and not despair? In part, we sing about it.
Songs about death don’t fall into the category of “happy-clappy,” and so they are often avoided. But the Scriptures don’t avoid it and neither should we. We must be preparing people to die, not simply react to death when it comes. We sing songs about facing trials and difficulties with faith. Why? Simply as a reaction? No! We sing those worship songs because they prepare the heart and fortify faith for the trials we surely will face. I’m grateful for two “re-tuned” hymns I have found genuinely full of faith in the face of death. These hymns I have used for funerals but, I have also used them in our worship service.They are not maudlin or cheesy, but instead rich in metaphor and truth. They also bring the hope we have in the face of death straight to our hearts and minds. Songs of hope help us live in the power of faith in future grace.
I’m going to share the lyrics to both songs here along with the links to where the sheet music can be obtained. Are there other songs about death you could suggest that might provide the same hope and truth? Read More