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Accompany Them with Singing--The Christian Funeral Hardcover – October 2, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0664233198 ISBN-10: 0664233198 Edition: 1St Edition

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Accompany Them with Singing--The Christian Funeral + The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care
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Read the first chapter of Accompany Them with Singing, "Marking Death: Human Rituals, Christian Practices."

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1St Edition edition (October 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664233198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664233198
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Long, a homiletics professor and well-regarded preacher, argues that funerals have become spiritually impoverished and need revitalization. Providing a comprehensive review of the history, traditions and theology of Christian funerals, Long notes that recent decades have seen both growing comfort with cremation and an increased preference for disembodied memorial services offering closure. In defiance of this trend, Long argues that just as bodies are present for baptism and weddings, they should be present for funerals. Long laments that eulogies celebrating individual lives often replace gospel preaching and advocates instead that liturgies emphasize a community's conveyance of a beloved's body to its final resting place, worshipping as they go. Delineating the purposes of a good funeral, Long urges clergy and congregations to embrace funerals as opportunities to act out one more time the great and hopeful drama of how the Christian life moves from death to life and from baptism to resurrection. This book promises to be a welcome theological resource and practical guide for pastors and others who care for the dying and officiate at Christian funerals. (Oct.)
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About the Author

Thomas G. Long is the Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is one of the most popular preachers in the United States today. He is the author of several books, including The Senses of Preaching (WJK), Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, and Whispering the Lyrics: Sermons for Lent and Easter.

More About the Author

Thomas G. Long is Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and is one of the most popular preachers in the United States today. He is the author of The Witness of Preaching, The Senses of Preaching; Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible; Whispering the Lyrics: Sermons for Lent and Easter; Matthew (Westminster Bible Commentary); Hebrews (Interpretation); Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian; and Preaching from Memory to Hope.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Hands down, the best book I've read on this subject.
Charles S. Houser
The book deals with funerals from a distinctly Christian perspective, and does so historically, philosophically, theologically, pastorally, and practically.
Russ Reaves
The importance of the church's ministry demands such a book for those who conduct funerals.
Richard K. Watkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Diakonos on December 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a Roman Catholic cleric who has assisted and officiated at many funerals. I found Dr. Long's insights to be invaluable to me. Reading his book rejuvenated my imagination of my role in the funeral even within the limits of Catholic liturgical practice and has improved my preaching. He offers many multi denominational sources and examples as well as a very clear picture of his concepts. I recommend this volume to my colleagues: Catholic and non Catholic alike.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Watts VINE VOICE on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Long has written the quintessential book on the theology of Christians funerals, if not a primer on the theology of Christian dealing with death. Starting with the premise that `Christians do not live and die in the abstract (p15)' Long first examines background of Christian funnels and does so not as a seminarian, or a scientist, but as a liturgist, a pastor, and as a Christian. Throughout the book, the author with his flair for hymnody, tackles with great sensitivity, the issue of death and funerals for the Christians.

Often times railing against the Neoplatonism which has long endured in Christianity, the author draws a line in the sand against those who insist in seeing the body as nothing more than a shell. In doing so, he is forced to deal with the tension found in Scripture of waiting for the resurrection and immediately being with God upon death. His solution is rather unique and convincing.

He draws together Christian Tradition with the subject of death by connecting the death of a Saint with the baptism. He has a strong liturgical use for baptism and often times casts the death and the funeral of a passed Christian in this light, and does so without theological issues which surround baptism. Long sees the Funeral of a Christian as the story of the Gospel itself.

He acknowledges that for many Americans, death is like pornography in the way in which it is handled (p22), but Long takes it from the back room and brings it into full view in a manner consistent with his desire to see funerals treated as a vital part of the Christian liturgy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard K. Watkins on December 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While recognizing that pastors are still doing Christian funerals, Long offers us alternatives which will more richly proclaim the Gospel hope of resurrection. In a pastorally sensitive way, Long compares funerals to theatre. All involved have a role to play, including the deceased. "While it is true that the gospel is proclaimed in the words of a funeral, it is also true that the gospel is proclaimed in the actions of the funeral." Because of this, "Because the funeral is a piece of drama, it is crucial to enact the gospel script, that is, to be sure that it is the Christian narrative being performed at a funeral, not some other story. In this there are four necessary holy elements:
A holy person - a sinner of God's own redeeming.
A holy place - the church where the good news of Jesus is regularly proclaimed.
A holy people - while not all at a funeral may be Christian, all have gathered for a holy purpose.
A holy script - the good news of victory of Jesus Christ over the power of death.
While the body of the deceased may not always be present, their normal presence helps say that we are traveling companions on the way of Christ. While there are often good reasons for not being in the church building, normally being in the sanctuary helps us proclaim the consistent message of God's victory in Jesus. While the community of faith cannot all be at every funeral, our presence is part of the gathering of the saints on both sides of death. While it is important that an individual has died, who should be honored and remembered, the message of the church is that in Jesus, while death is real, it does not have the final word.
The book includes helpful chapters on planning the funeral and preaching at funerals.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Bradshaw on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great; I wish I read it before I started officiating funerals. I feel the need to identify a few major points in the book that distinguish it from other books on the topic, but every page of this book is instructive. If you officiate funerals, don't officiate another one until you read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By suemc on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives a careful explanation of the Christian basis for funerals, and a solid theological explanation of the purpose of the funeral. Contrary to wide-spread current practice, a funeral is not meant to be a component of grief management, nor is it appropriate to turn the funeral service into a "celebration of the life of..." someone who is eulogized beyond recognition. There is a Christian purpose for the funeral service, as a part of the baptized Christian's life. Reading this book at a time when the family is not under the stress of losing a loved one could be valuable preparation for thoughtfully dealing with the funeral preparation when the time comes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Catholic priest on May 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The generation of Christians now burying their parents and grandparents has generally attended church less often and in some cases not even practiced the faith of their parents, yet they want unprecedented control of their parents' funeral rites especially to introduce secular features. The thoughtful and prayerful issues raised in this book deserve to be discussed more widely in our culture. This book is a cogent critique of many of the current innovations at memorial services and our obsession with ourselves even in death.
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