(UPDATED) The evangelist planned his own ceremony. Experts analyze the music he chose.
As Billy Graham is laid to rest in North Carolina today, the 2,000 invited funeral attendees will listen to—or sing together—six songs. Graham, who planned his own funeral [see CT’s live report], was the one who chose them.
In this, he seems to have taken the path of his longtime music director Cliff Barrows.
“I want a lot of music,” Barrows instructed Billy Graham Evangelistic Association choir director Tom Bledsoe before he died in 2016. “And I want the people to sing.”
Graham’s six picks:
- “Until Then” (Stuart Hamblen, 1958), performed by musical artist Linda McCrary-Fisher
- “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (Edward Perronet, 1779), congregational singing led by Bledsoe
- “Above All” (Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche, 1999), performed by musical artist Michael W. Smith
- “Because He Lives” (Bill and Gloria Gaither, 1970), performed by the Gaither Vocal Band
- “To God Be the Glory” (Fanny Crosby/William Howard Doane, 1875), congregational singing led by Bledsoe
- “Amazing Grace,” bagpipe escort led by Pipe Major William Boetticher
CT asked worship and hymnody experts what they thought of Graham’s choices:
John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of worship, theology, and congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary:
Each of these songs echoes central themes in Graham’s ministry: All glory be to Jesus, whose death and resurrection set us free from sin. There is also a steady focus here on life with Jesus in heaven, a hallmark of evangelical piety, a strong emphasis on one’s own individual and personal affirmation of faith, …