This last Sunday we heard Jesus say “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This week, as my family and I mourned the loss of my Uncle and Godfather Dale, Jesus was true to His Word, as He always is.
Comfort comes in many forms, a hug from a relative or friend, kind words, or even a tissue given at an opportune time. As always, God works through means, and this is ever so true in the Church, not just in the comfort brought through the actions of loved ones, but when the Word of God is spoken. Then, not only does the Word of God bring comfort, but the Comforter Himself, Jesus Christ, is delivered into your ear.
It is fitting then that at the committal service, family and friends sang back to God what was put into our ears and what sealed our beloved as a child of God: His Holy Name in Doxology to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The “Common Doxology” as it has come to be known, was penned as the final stanza to “Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun” and “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night” written by Anglican Bishop Thomas Ken. It may not seem to be the most natural thing for a spontaneous song which starts “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” to be the song which mourners choose to sing, but it reflects exactly the paradox of Christians who mourn. On one hand, we are saddened that a loved one has died… and it is right to be saddened by this as death itself is not what God had intended for His creation. Sin brought death, and with death came mourning. But God in His mercy also has given reason for this Doxology, as death has been swallowed up in Christ’s victory over death as He, who was crucified for your sins and mine, is risen for our justification. Thus, amid sadness, the Christian clings (and this is certainly not easy) to this reality, this promise, that death is not the end for our loved one. Christ is risen… we and our loved ones too will share in that resurrection on the last day.
Christ has come to redeem the whole person, body and soul. Now the soul is safe with Christ and the body rests in the ground corruptable and separated from the soul, but on that last day there will be a glorious reunion. The body will be raised in glory incorruptible and rejoined and animated with the soul.
“All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night”
All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.
Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.
Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.
O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.
When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.
O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King?
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.