Yesterday I led a couple songs during the funeral of Mark Walker, a dear friend from a church I used to be a pastor at years ago. It was one of the most joyful memorial services I’ve been to, due largely to the glowing countenance of Marks’ widow, Marie. Everyone who honored Mark also took time to honor Marie for her joy, faithfulness, servant heart, and trust in God. She cared for Mark around the clock for the last two years as he tried to make it through a second liver transplant. Mark’s fight is finally over. He’s rejoicing with his Savior.
At the funeral, I had the privilege of singing a song called It Is Not Death to Die. I wrote it a while back, based on a hymn by Henri Malan (1787-1864) that was translated into English by George Bethune (1847). I’ve tried numerous renditions of the chorus. A previous version went like this:
O Jesus, Author of all life
Your chosen ones can never die
You were cursed for us to bring us to your side
And it is not death to die.
Since funerals are great opportunities to help non-Christians understand their perilous position outside of a saving relationship with God the Father through Christ, I wanted the song to clarify that Jesus was cursed for those who trust in him, not everyone in general. Only Christians can truly sing “it is not death to die.” I also wanted the song to explain that our hope for overcoming death is rooted in our union with Christ by grace through faith. So I changed the words to this:
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has pow’r to save
Those who trust in you will in your mercy find
That it is not death to die.
“It is Not Death to Die” is one of the songs that will be on the next Sovereign Grace release, Come Weary Saints, due out in April. Typically a song about death wouldn’t fit on a “worship” CD. But Come Weary Saints wasn’t designed to be your typical worship CD. Here’s a video where I explain our thinking behind it.