A funeral sermon for one who loved music

The music hasn’t ended; the key has changed[1]

I’m going to ask you to do something that may seem a bit odd, a little unusual. I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment because I think as we continue, you’ll understand why I am asking you to do this.

 I want you to take a moment and just sit in the silence. Be present and open to the silence, and just listen. But before you do that, I want to tell you something. 

Many believe that silence is the opposite of sound and that there is nothing to hear. Inge knew otherwise. As a singer and one who loved to participate in the church choir at Faith Lutheran and the Community choir in Nepean, Inge knew that’s just not true. Every good singer knows that silence is the necessary space between the notes. 

That space, what most of us might call or experience as emptiness, absence, or a void, is the birthplace of the music. That space of silence is as much a part of the music as is each note. That space sets a rhythm, holds energy, and gives music its life, power, and beauty. Silence is never just emptiness, an absence, or a void; not in music, not in life, not in death, and not on this day. 

So take a moment now and listen to the silence. (pause) What did you hear? 

My guess is that we hear the music of Inge’s life; we hear her song of love, her song of friendship, her song of serving, her song of presence in your life. 

And I wonder what song she gave you. How did she touch your life and invite you to join your voice to hers in the great song of life? How did she conduct you into the original music of your own life? Hang on to those songs, Inge’s, and yours. Let them fill you and carry you. They are holy hymns.

I’m also guessing that you heard your song of grief and sorrow, your song of loss, and your song of love for or friendship with Inge. It probably had a verse or two about loneliness, sadness, and wondering how you can know the way. That’s the space between the notes. That’s the opening to a new song for Inge, for you, and for all those you love but no longer see. 

I want you to know this. The music of Inge’s life did not end at her death. Today we stand in that space between the notes, a space that makes room for presence in a new way, a space from which God is making all things new. “Sing to the Lord a new song” the Psalmist sings.[2]

The music of Inge’s life now plays in a different key.

Isn’t that what we mean when we say at these times, “Life has changed, not ended?” Isn’t that what Jesus is telling Thomas in today’s gospel[3] when he says, “That where I am, there you may be also?” Death is not the coda, the conclusion, to the song of life. 

Though we might be able to name the day and maybe even the hour of Inge’s death, she never knew that moment. She simply moved from this life to a new life. The music hasn’t ended, the key has changed. And that means we must learn to listen in a new way. We must listen with the ears of our hearts. 

So when we get to the parts of life that call us to slow down, pay attention and listen with the ears of your heart. Listen for the voice of Inge. Listen for the voices of all those you love but no longer see. Feel her and their presence. The music is always playing. 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” for we are singing the never-ending song of life. That’s why we’ve gathered here today. And that’s why on this day, even as we soon go to the graveside, we make our song, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” 


[1] Largely borrowed and adapted from Fr Michael Marsh, “The Music Hasn’t Ended, The Key Has Changed—A Funeral Sermon” in Interrupting the Silence (https://www.interruptingthesilence.com). Thank you Fr Michael!

[2] Psalm 96:1-2,12

[3] John 14:1-6

1 thought on “A funeral sermon for one who loved music

  1. Thank you for this insightful note. I enjoy nature and its ability to restore energy in me. It’s the silence that works for me.

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