What songs should we sing at funerals? What lyrics capture best the situation of the dead and those grieving? Music and song so powerfully ‘reach’ us that, I imagine, they have always had a place in dealing with death – chords and concepts carry us along the emotional roller coaster; the words set out the landscape about living and dying. One song often sung at All Saints’ Day or at a Memorial Service is ‘For all the saints’. It sets the landscape beyond the grave which is very helpful for the living to see.
1. For all the saints who from their labours rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be for ever blest: Alleluia, alleluia!
2. Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might; Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight; Thou in the darkness drear their one true light: Alleluia, alleluia!
3. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor’s crown of gold: Alleluia, alleluia!
4. O blest communion, fellowship divine! We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine: Alleluia, alleluia!
5. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph-song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong: Alleluia, alleluia!
6. The golden evening brightens in the west; Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest; Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest: Alleluia, alleluia!
7. But lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day; The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The king of glory passes on His way: Alleluia, alleluia!
8. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, alleluia!
Words: William Walsham How (1823-1897), alt. © Public Domain