I returned home this weekend after a week by my Dad’s hospital bed and then another week taking care of him in his home alongside my siblings with the help of Hospice. In the early morning hours of February 28, he shook off earthly fetters and entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My mom had preceded him to glory by 3 years.
So thankful for the sacred time around his deathbed as family from near and far gathered round to see him off. This included my own 5 sons who saw their ‘Opa’ as nothing less than a hero who had survived plane crashes, encounters with grizzlies and gators, and earned a reputation as one of the worlds best mountaineers. The body that 3 years prior, at the age of 85, had beaten them to their campsite on Gideon’s first backpack trip, now lay wasted and worn.
My boys are no strangers to seeing grandparents off to glory. A year after we moved back from Hawaii my Mom passed suddenly and a year later Tom’s Mom “won” her battle against cancer and entered into eternal, painless rest. Our boys were blessed to spend the week prior by her hospital bed laughing and sharing and singing just as I had with my own “Oma” when I was 12 or 13.
This time my fingers knew right where to turn in the Bible and the Psalter and the hymnal. I wondered often how people face death without these things on hand. I thought about our modern, feel-good worship music and how little it prepares us for deathbed vigils. I cataloged hymns in my heart aimed at helping saints die well. Here’s one for each day I spent by my Dad’s side and the lines forever highlighted in my memory.
My Jesus, I Love Thee “I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; and say when the death dew lies cold on my brow; “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, tis now.”
Jesus Lives and So Shall I “Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever. He who deigned for me to die, lives, the bands of death to sever. He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my Hope and Trust.”
How Firm A Foundation “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; For I will be with thee, they troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee they deepest distress.”
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus “Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him there; Over us sin no more hath dominion for more than conquerors we are! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling “Time is now fleeting the moments are passing, passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, death’s night is coming, coming for you and for me. Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home; earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!”
Nearer, My God, to Thee “There let the way appear steps unto heaven; All that thou sendest me, in mercy given; Angels to beckon me nearer, my God , to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.”
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go “O Cross that lifted up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.”
He Leadeth Me “And when my task on earth is done, when by Thy grace the victory’s won, Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, since God through Jordan leaders me.”
Be Still My Soul “Be still, my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul! when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”
All the Way My Savior Leads Me “All the way my Savior leads me; O the fullness of his love! Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above; when my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, This my song thru endless ages, “Jesus led me all the way.”
Day By Day “Help me then in every tribulation so to trust Thy promises, O Lord, that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation offered me within Thy holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E’er to take, as from a father’s hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land.”
Rock of Ages “While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgement throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hid myself in Thee.”
Saved By Grace “Some day the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but oh, the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King! And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace; and I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace.”
Abide With Me “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies; Heavn’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee, in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
There are dozens more that could be added to this list and if you’d like to share any that come to mind, please do so in the comments below!