Burials at Bethel Burying Ground were often, but not always preceded by a memorial service at Bethel Church (now Mother Bethel). The historical record contains the details of such a service in 1805 in which the following hymns were sung –
-Rejoice for a brother disceased [sic]
-Hark from the tombs
-My God my heart with Love inflame (1)
On the way to the gravesite, the procession sang “A solemn March we make.” On returning from the grave, the mourners would also sing. A popular hymn for this occasion was from the hymnal that Richard Allen published in 1801. It was “O blessed estate of the dead.”
Long lines of mourners in procession from 6th and Lombard Streets to 5th and Queen Streets singing to the heavens – what a beautiful scene that must have been!
(1) American Methodist Worship, Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, 207-08.