Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Burial Hymn

Here is my first stab at fulfilling a commission for a funeral hymn. The thought of stanzas 2-3 is based on 2 Samuel 12:23, where David says of his departed son: "Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

Another impetus for this hymn is my annoyance with preachers who make funerals such a "joyful Easter celebration" that hardly any space seems to be saved for grief. Sorrow at the departure of loved ones is not incompatible with the resurrection faith!

Suggested tune: OLD 124TH, without abridgment.
Lord, who once gave the breath of life to men,
And still to each imparts that living breath:
Breathe on all hearts that sigh and sorrow when
You call each living spirit back again;
Guard from the power of the second death!

Take whom You will, and save whom You will save;
In You compassion wisely tempers power.
Shall we resist the rest our spirits crave?
Shall we go down and bring up from the grave
One soul that yielded to Your chosen hour?

As David washed his face, took bread and ate
When his son's final hour of pain was past,
Help us accept our (brother's/sister's) blessed fate:
Not asking (his/her) revival as of late,
But our reunion with (him/her) at the last.

O Lord, who in our world of woe was born,
Who for the love of Laz'rus lately wept,
You cannot laugh our bitter tears to scorn:
Weep, then, with us by death and grief forlorn,
Till all awaken who in You have slept.

Therefore we plant this lifeless seed of clay,
Waiting upon that resurrection tide
When it shall break forth, never to decay,
When all in Christ shall see and gladly say:
Come, brethren! Zion's gates are open wide!

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