30 Hymns & Spirituals

Singing beloved hymns and spirituals at bedside may provide comfort, inspiration, or a meaningful excursion on Memory Lane. Here are links to some of my favorite versions. Note: this page provides only a tiny taste of the vast diversity of cultural expressions of these songs.


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1.    ABIDE WITH ME  “O Thou who changest not, abide with me”  (lyrics by Henry Francis Lyte, music: William Henry Monksung; sung by Audrey Assad)

2.    AMAZING GRACE “’Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”  (lyrics by John Newton, sung by Judy Collins)

3.    ANGEL BAND  “Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home”  (lyrics by Jefferson Hascall, music by William Batchelder Bradbury; sung by Emmylou Harris)

4.    ANGELS WATCHIN’ OVER ME  “All night, all day, angels watching over me… Day is dyin’ in the west, angels watchin’ over me… sleep my child an’ take your rest, angels watchin’ over me.”  (traditional gospel; sung by Shaina Noll)

5.    BE STILL MY SOUL  “Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side… leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change, He faithful will remain”  (music: to the tune of “Finlandia” by Sibelius, lyrics by Katharina von Schlegel; sung by Exultate Singers) 

6.    DEEP RIVER  “I want to cross over into campground”  (African American spiritual; sung by Paul Robeson

7.    DO, LORD, REMEMBER ME  “When I’m in trouble, Lord, remember me; when I’m dyin’, Lord, remember me” (African American spiritual; sung by Mississippi John Hurt)

8.    DOWN TO THE RIVER TO PRAY  “Oh, sister, let’s go down, down by the river to pray”  (traditional; sung by Alison Krauss)

9.    GLORY GLORY HALLELUJAH  “Glory glory halleluhah, since I laid my burdens down; I feel better, so much better, since I laid my burdens down”  (African-American spiritual; congregational singing led by Willie Rogers)

10.    HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS   “He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands … the little bitty baby … you and me … in His hands”  (African American spiritual; sung by Nina Simone)

11.    HIDE ME IN THY BOSOM  “Hide me in thy bosom until the storm of life is over; rock me in the cradle of Thy love… then take me to that blessed home above”  (by Thomas A. Dorsey; sung by The Dixie Hummingbirds)

12.   HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW (lyrics by Civilla D. Martin, music by Charles H. Gabriel; sung by Ethyl Waters)

13.   HOW GREAT THOU ART   “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made” (music: traditional Swedish melody, lyrics by Carl Boberg, sung by Alan Jackson)

14.   I GOT SHOES   “When I get to heaven gonna put on my shoes I’m gonna walk all over God’s heaven”  (African American spiritual; sung by the Hymn Choir of Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church, Rock Hill, South Carolina)

15.   I’LL FLY AWAY   “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away”  (by Albert E. Brumley; sung by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch)

16.   IN THE GARDEN  “He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own”  (by Charles Austin Miles; sung by The Church Sisters)

17.    IT IS WELL  “When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul’ ”  (by Horatio Spafford; sung by Chris Rice)

18.   JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE  “Daily walking close with Thee; let it be, dear Lord, let it be”  (traditional gospel; sung by Patsy Cline)

19.   LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS  “I have blessed peace with my Lord so near… leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarm … leaning on the everlasting arms”  (music by Anthony J. Showalter, lyrics by Showalter and Elisha Hoffman; sung by Michael Eldridge)

20.   MARY, DON’T YOU WEEP  “Oh Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn; didn’t Pharaoh’s army get drowned? Oh Mary, don’t you weep” (African-American spiritual; sung by Aretha Franklin with James Cleveland and The Southern California Community Choir)

20.   MORNING HAS BROKEN  “Morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird”  (lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon, music: traditional Scottish Gaelic ; sung by Cat Stevens)

21.   OUR GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST  “A thousand ages in Your sight are like an evening gone”  (by Isaac Watts; sung by the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute Singers)

22.   PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND “I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light”  (by Thomas A. Dorsey, sung by Joey + Rory)

23.   PRECIOUS MEMORIES  “Precious memories, how they linger; how they ever flood my soul”  (by J.B.F. Wright; sung by Aretha Franklin with James Cleveland and The Southern California Community Choir)

24.   SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER   “Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod?” (by Robert Lowry; sung by Guardian Angels Music Ministry)

25.   SHINE ON ME (LIGHTHOUSE)  “Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me” (African-American spiritual; sung by the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir)

26.   SOFTLY AND TENDERLY  “Come home, come home, you who are weary: come home”  (by Will Lamartine Thompson; sung by Audrey Assad)

27.   SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT  “A band of angels coming after me, comin’ for to carry me home”  (African-American spiritual; sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1909, earliest known recording of Swing Low)

28.   THE LORD’S PRAYER  “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”  (music by Albert Hay Malotte, lyrics: from the Bible, Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4; sung by Charlotte Church)

29.  THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD  “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole”  (African-American spiritual, sung by The Adventist Vocal Ensemble)  [NOTE: The “balm in Gilead” reference is from the Bible… “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wounds of my [God’s] people?” (Jeremiah 8:22, NIV)]

30.  WADE IN THE WATER  “Wade in the water; God’s gonna trouble the water” (African-American spiritual; sung by Roxanne Goodman and John Dapaah)


NOTES

1.  See this Library of Congress page and the Negro Spirituals website for more info and learning resources about African-American spirituals.

2.  Looking for popular songs to sing and share? Here is an online singing resource with selections from Rise Up Singing, the classic community singing songbook, as well as the recently released sequel collection Rise Again—2,400 songs in all. Both of these remarkable collections were compiled by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood.

3.  For more about singing at the beside as life’s end nears, see the website of Threshold Choir, a network of bedside singers.

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