Thursday, March 3, 2011

Funeral Plans

Sounds morbid, I know. But hey, I’m an oncology nurse. That makes me a realist. I know people die every day, and that I will also one day, die. Also, the fact that I am currently home from work suffering from a bad cold, makes me think about it. No, I don’t feel sick enough to die, but I might as well plan for it while there are no strong feelings attached to the idea of planning my funeral.

I’ve mentioned this to my family before, but I suppose it’s best to write these things down, so that my wishes are there for them and they don’t have to wonder what to do.

That being introduced, I would like three hymns sung at my funeral. I will include them in their entirety, because I don’t want particular verses left out inadvertently, and I also would like them sung to a particular tune.

The first is my favourite hymn, And Can it Be? By Charles Wesley
It’s my favourite because I am still amazed that God would take me, an arrogant and ignorant person, and make me interested in His great work on the cross.


And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain-
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father's throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race:
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.


No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


The next is O for a thousand Tongues to Sing by Charles Wesley, 1739
I would like it sung to the tune that we sing at the Carey conference, with men and women each singing their parts, and sing it loudly and heartily, because I’ll be listening from the rafters.

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my god and King, The triumphs of his grace.

My gracious Master and my God, Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad, the honors of they Name.

Jesus, the Name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ‘Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of reigning sin, He sets the pris’ner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

He speaks and, list’ning to his voice, New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice; The humble poor believe.


The other is Be Still my Soul, by Katharina von Schlegel, 1697
Number 579 in the Trinity Hymnal, sung to the tune of Finlandia, of course.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on they side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy god to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: they Jesus can repay
From his own fullness, all he takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


If there is time, I also like Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness, by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, 1739 Number 439 in the Trinity Hymnal, because of the words.

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies;
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

Jesus, be endless praise to thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

O let the dead now hear thy voice;
Now bid thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness.


If possible, I would like our friend John Himanen, to sing his song, I Know You Well. If that is not possible, I would like it played as the casket is taken from the church.

The day will come when all our work here on earth is done
And we'll leave this troubled world behind
It may be soon for I know Jesus waits for me
And He yearns to place His hand in mine
Well the future is not mine to see but here today
I give Him all my life to hear Him say

I know you well, you ran the race
You made your home inside My grace
I know you well, you fought the fight
You did not waver when I called you to stand for what's right
I know you well.

I do not look for man's applause in choosing how I live
I have no need of worldly fame
Above all else I pray each moment of my life
Would glorify His holy name
And of all the things that ever will be said of me
Lord, I long to hear that You've been pleased.

I know you well, you ran the race
You made your home inside My grace
I know you well, you fought the fight
You did not waver when I called you to stand for what's right
I know you well, I know you well, My child.
I know you well.

If I had the gift to speak in tongues of men and angels
And if I had the faith so mountains I could move
What wouuld I gain if love was lost in reaching greatness
If you could not say to me

I know you well, you ran the race
You made your home inside My grace
I know you well, you fought the fight
You did not waver when I called you to stand for what's right
I know you well, I know you well, My child.
I know you well.

I asked my husband once about writing a verse from a hymn on my tombstone. He said, ‘no way, you have to pay by the letter’. Oh, well, so he’s not always sentimental. So I said, ‘okay, at least write that verse on my funeral program.’
Perhaps a bible verse on my tombstone. Something short, like “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Or even just, “saved by grace”.

The verse is from the hymn, The Sands of Time are Sinking, by Anne R. cousin, 1857
Trinity hymnal, 599 the last verse.

“The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown he gifteth,
But on his pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.”


I would also like someone to read the following quotation from Richard Baxter’s book, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest. Following was a review I wrote of his book, Aim High.


Richard Baxter was a Puritan Pastor in England from 1615-1691. He wrote many books, which were, essentially, a collection of his sermons. This quote is from his book, The Saints' Everlasting Rest. It gives you perspective about the brevity of this life in the light of eternity. No one could doubt the pastoral heart of Baxter, or his own love for the Saviour. An eleven year old boy who was dying, asked to have some of Mr. Baxter's book, so that he could "read a little more of eternity before I go to it."
It is written from the perspective of a soul newly arrived in glory and reflecting on the journey and the destination he/she almost missed out on. I can't read it without crying.

"From heaven's height the soul surveys the Promised Land. Looking back on earth, the soul views the dreary wilderness through which it passed. To stand on Mount Memory, comparing heaven with earth, fills the soul with unimaginable gratitude, and makes it exclaim:
'Is this the inheritance that cost so much as the blood of Christ? No wonder! O blessed price! Is this the result of believing? Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbor? Is this where Christ was so eager to bring me? O praise the Lord! Is this the glory of which the Scriptures spoke, and of which ministers preached so much? I see the Gospel is indeed good news!
Are all my troubles, Satan's temptations, the world's scorns and jeers, come to this? O vile, nature, that resisted so much, and so long, such a blessing! Unworthy soul, is this the place you came to so unwillingly? Was duty tiresome? Was the world too good to lose? Could you not leave all, deny all, and suffer anything for THIS? Were you loathe to die to come to this? O false heart, you had almost betrayed me to eternal flames and lost me this glory! Are you not ashamed now, my soul, that you ever questioned that Love which brought you here? Are you not sorry that you ever quenched His Spirit's prompting or misinterpreted His providence, or complained about the narrow road that brought you to such a destination?
Now you are sufficiently convinced that your blessed Redeemer was saving you, as well when he crossed your desires, as when he granted them; when he broke your heart, as when he bound it up. No thanks to you, unworthy self, for this crown; but to God be the glory for ever!'"


But above all, at my funeral, preach the gospel. Remind everyone there, that life is brief at best and they will soon stand before the God of all the earth. He will either be their Saviour or their Judge.

2 comments:

Doug said...

What a blessing to my soul to read through your funeral plans.Love the hymns there are more verses to Jesus thy Blood and Righteousness that are also very nice. I will look them up for you some time buried in a stack somewhere.
It is so great to reflect on grace and even to realize that our time here is so brief. Take care Margaret

piafinn said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Margaret.