Hymns played at a funeral still remains a very popular choice for many families. For devout church goers hymns are an integral part of the service but they also lend comfort for people even if they do not have a strong faith.
While you cannot beat the sound of an organist playing live music there are other options such as recorded organ music and choral versions that help fill the sound if there are only a few people attending or singing is not everyone's thing.
These days there are also less formal options where popular singers have performed the hymns and very often families opt for this as an option instead of singing. I have put alternative options below some of the hymns.
1) Abide With Me
A Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte. Most often sung to the tune "Eventide" by William Henry Monk.
Far and away one of the most popular hymns for funerals in Torbay due to it's local links. Written by Henry Francis Lyte a few months before his death in 1847. Henry Francis lyte was the curate of All Saint's Church in Brixham.
Although often seen as a particularly sombre hymn at it's core is a prayer for God to remain with us through our life, trials and even our death. Personally speaking, I find it particularly beautiful and comforting.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Alternate Option: Abide with Me - Audrey Assad
2) The Lord's My Shepherd
Commonly attributed to Francis Rous and sung to the tune "Crimmond" which is generally credited to Jessie Seymour Irvine.
A very well known hymn that is based on the words to Psalm 23,
The Lord's My Shepherd is a comforting hymn that is still hugely popular with families today.
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
Alternate Option: The Lord is My Shepherd (Goodall) - Choir of wells Cathedral
(Vicar of Dibley Theme)
Based on the poem "And did those feet, in ancient time" By William Blake and written in 1804. Today it is best known as the hymn "Jerusalem", with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The famous orchestration was written by Sir Edward Elgar.
Commonly thought of as England's unofficial anthem Jerusalem holds a place in peoples hearts. Bright and uplifting when sung it is also incredibly moving when just played by an organist.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
4) All Things Bright And Beautiful
The hymn was first published in 1848 in Mrs Cecil Alexander's Hymns for Little Children.
An Anglican hymn that is popular around the world. It has been a popular choice for funerals due to its uplifting words and ease of singing. A celebration hymn that suits a less religious service.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Alternate Option: The Gardeners Hymn - A rewording designed just for gardeners
5) Amazing Grace
John Newton had little or no faith in his formative years and after he left the Navy he became involved in the slave trade. In 1748, during a storm in which battered his ship, he called out to God for mercy and this sparked his spiritual conversion. He remained a slave trader up until his retirement in 1755. He then studied Christian theology and became an abolitionist from then on.
A stirring and moving hymn that is often accompanied by bagpipes it speaks of finding God
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Alternate Option: Amazing Grace - Celtic Women
6) How Great Thou Art
Text by Carl Boberg in 1885
A Swedish poem that was then set to the music of a Swedish folk song. This hymn has been one of the most popular Catholic hymns while rejoicing in God's goodness and nature.
Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
7) Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer
Guide me o thou great redeemer
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak but thou art mighty
Hold me with thy powerful hand
Bread of heaven
Feed me now and evermore
Alternate Option: Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer - Charlotte Church
8) Morning Has Broken
A Christian hymn first published in 1931. It has words by English author Eleanor Farjeon and was inspired by the village of Alfriston in East Sussex, then set to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune, "Bunessan".
Many of us will remember singing this in assembly at school and it is in it's very familiarity that people find it comforting.
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word
Alternate Option: Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens
9) I Vow To Thee My Country
Words by Sir Cecil Spring Rice to Music composed by Gustav Holst.
Many people who know me will know how much I will have struggled not to put this as number one. This powerful, moving, patriotic hymn speaks of sacrifice, love and duty.
The original text is from Sir Cecil Spring Rice's Poem "Ubs Dei" (The city of God) and it speaks of a Christian's loyalty to both his country and his God.
Ubs Dei was rewritten and the first verse was replaced. This was done to adapt it for the first world war but the replaced verse is still sometimes sung and known as the "Rarely sung middle verse".
"The Rarely Sung Middle Verse"
I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters, she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And around her feet are lying the dying and the dead;
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns;
I haste to thee, my mother, a son among thy sons
Whether for it's military meaning, patriotism or even for it's beauty this hymn is powerful and memorable.
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
Alternate Option: I Vow to Thee My Country - Orchestral (Different to Jupiter)
10) The Old Rugged Cross
Words by George Bennard 1915
Written in America by a Methodist Evangelist it has a wonderful feeling of hope and faith. I first heard this hymn sung by my Great Grandfather at the funeral service of his wife and it will always hold a place in my heart.
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain