Christ-Centered Worship Songs: Leading Worship at a Funeral

It was the most difficult “worship” service I have ever had the honor of planning or leading.   On a cold January morning,  the pastor called me into his office.  One of the young  ladies in our congregation had died in a horrible car crash.  She was only 20.   “Jim,” the pastor said, “we’ve been asked to lead worship for her service.   I am putting you in charge.”   Nicole had been “The Girl of The West” which was a very big deal out here in Colorado.  Because of this, her memorial service had to be moved to a much larger facility.  We expected over 500 people to attend.   I was overwhelmed by the assignment!

Leading worship at a funeral for a genuine believer is no small task.   Yes, we gather to celebrate their life, but the emotion present in those gathered is not celebratory.  It is grief, gut wrenching heartache, over the loss of someone they love. Few people feel like singing.   In addition, many who attend the service will not know the Savior.   If you are asked to lead worship in this situation, you will need songs that help people express their pain and their hope in the resurrection.  You will also need songs that call unbelievers attention to the Savior.

I don’t remember the songs we chose for Nicole’s service.   I do recall there were several drafts, and that I was not completely happy with our final choices.   I wish I had known about today’s song back then.

Recently my best friends mother-in-law passed away.   He played this song at her funeral.  “It Is Not Death To Die”, is an old hymn whose music has been updated.  A chorus has also been added.  I think it would be appropriate for any believers funeral.  It helps us in our pain, reminds us of the promise of heaven and gently calls our attention to the cross.

Feel free to list songs that you have used in similar situations in the comment section.  I am sure that others will appreciate it.   In addition to the lyrics and the recording, I have included  a link to the chord chart.  

“It Is Not Death to Die” from the Come Weary Saints album.

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864). Translated by George Bethune (1847). Music, chorus, and alternate words by Bob Kauflin


About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on March 5, 2011, in Christianity, The Christian Life, Worship and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. heavenly princesa

    It is a beautiful song and thanks for sharing it.


  2. This is a beautiful song. When my mother passed 5 years ago her funeral was made up mostly of music. She had loved music all her life. Three of the songs that I remember are “Sheltered In The Arms of God”, “There Is A River” & “Grace Like Rain”.


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