In a couple of weeks I’ll be in Georgia for my grandmother’s memorial service. I expect it will be dignified but not formal, and filled with emotion but not maudlin. Both extremes would constitute a fuss, which she would have none of. As I mentioned before, she planned for her death and made this transition easier for her family. I’m grateful, but I think too that this planning was good for her spiritual estate, too.
So, for the next couple of weeks I’ll write an occasional series on how we can prepare, and how those who come after can do what they need to.
When someone I know dies, out of habit I sing “O Strength and Stay, Upholding All Creation” a luminous Ambrosian hymn matched in Hymns of the Spirit (#435) to the Genevan psalm tune “Donne Secours.” (Text, but only the first two verses were used in Hymns of the Spirit. In Singing the Living Tradition, this is matched with “O Earth, Thy Path Is Crowned and Consecrated.”)
The second stanza continues the prayer form of the hymn:
Grant to life’s day a calm unclouded ending,
An eve untouched by shadows of decay,
the brightness of a holy deathbed blending
With dawning glories of the eternal day.
Yes, I want that, too.