Amish Grandpa Funeral Singing (Video…& 3 Myths Debunked)

I’ve got another singing video for you today – this one is titled “Amish Grandchildren singing for their Grandpa’s Funeral.” I share it for two reasons. One – it’s another nice example of singing I hope you’ll enjoy. Two – a comment attached to the video caught my eye (more below 🙂 ).

First, the video. We are in a large open space, but I’m not quite sure what this room is – there appears to be a stone chimney. We can see a little boy in the foreground who appears to be nibbling at a nearly empty plate. Our young group of singers fill the background of the shot. The song is “This World Is Not My Home.” Nice singing.

Two. Scanning the comments of this video I found an example of a common phenomenon.

As it applies to the Amish, you have someone who’s maybe met a few Amish people, or knew some growing up. This makes the person an expert. I think you know what I’m talking about.

You even see a version of this with some people who were raised Amish. That gives them a good bit of credibility – they’ve lived an Amish life, after all. But it doesn’t mean, for example, that they are versed in how all the many other groups of Amish do things. They can fall into a similar trap. “Our way” becomes “the way.”

So we get an example of the first type on this video from commenter “bach1521.” This is what he/she had to say on the above video:

This is not Amish singing…the song was written in the mid 50’s by a southern gospel writer and would not be sung my either old or new order Amish. Second it is sung in English. Amish sing only in German. Third, videos would not be allowed. This is Old order Mennonite. The Mennonite are more liberal with their singing. I was brought up around both sects of Amish and Mennonite.

Let’s look at each claim individually:

Claim 1: Amish would not sing a song from outside their own culture – As we saw in our last example of singing, Amish certainly do that. The type of song they might sing depends in part on where they are singing.

In church, it is mainly from the Ausbund hymnal (some Amish use another book called Unparteiische Liedersammlung). Outside of church at other singing occasions, they will sing hymns from a variety of sources – including Gospel hymns. The usual disclaimers apply here about how Amish church practices can vary.

Claim 2: Amish wouldn’t sing in English – As we saw in the last video example, also not true. Some youth groups sing in English. I have witnessed families singing in English together many times. It’s not unusual. Children sing in English in schools. Groups sing at non-Amish nursing homes. Here are some singing in the NYC subway. Here are Amish children singing for the Ohio legislature. All in English.

Claim 3: Video would not be allowed – Well, this would depend on the situation, but some Amish might permit it. Bach1521 claims the singers here are Mennonite. Several other commenters state that no, these are actually New Order Amish.

The New Order Amish are arguably the most permissive when it comes to photography (here’s an example). And these being youth and young people, that is another factor which makes this video little to be shocked over.

Some baptized Amish adults may also permit video or photography, depending on the context. I’ve already linked to a half-dozen singing clips above, some of which include adult Amish people.

After being rebuffed by others in the comments, bach1521 continues: I was raised in an Amish Commune. New order Amish speak in English but when it comes to worship of any kind, it is German only. No Bishop would allow this, it is considered sacrilege.

The first line suggests his story of knowing the Amish might be fabricated. I’ve never heard of it called an “Amish Commune”, but that sounds groovy, I guess. As for the singing in English, bishops certainly “allow” it.

I will concede that I’m not so sure about Swartzentruber Amish custom – for example, Karen Johnson-Weiner notes that in Swartzentruber schools, children sing only in German (see Train Up A Child p. 181).

So this could also be a case of “the Amish I know do it this way, so that’s how all Amish do it.”

As for these young singers, the dress is clearly Amish, and the shortish male haircuts, trimmed beards, and so on suggest the typical look in New Order churches.

But wait – if you look closely, you will notice there are a few people dressed in English garb. It might be that they were raised Amish but have decided not to be baptized in the Amish church, which of course happens sometimes. Or maybe their parents made that decision themselves. Or perhaps they are just friends helping out.

Bach1521’s comments seemed to get under the skin of some other commenters.  Two claimed to know the singers personally. One says she is a cousin to some of the singers. Another states that a non-Amish uncle made the video.

Those two commented under what appear to be their real names, and not a pseudonym. One happens to be named John Paul Raber. In her book Why The Amish Sing, D. Rose Elder cites an Ohio Amish writer of the same name.

Of course, it’s not difficult to find comments like Bach1521’s online. You could do this sort of debunking exercise every day of the week.

So why did I take the time to highlight Bach1521’s comments here? Well, maybe I’m feeling ornery today – too much social distancing 😉

Let’s just say I thought it would be worthwhile to add a little bit of analysis to this singing post, and knock down a few myths/misconceptions at the same time.

All that said, let’s end on a positive note. Here are the lyrics to the song this group of young people is singing. I don’t know who this man was, but it looks like he was blessed with a great group of grandchildren.

This World Is Not My Home

This world is not my home
I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

I have a loving mother
Just up in Gloryland
And I don’t expect to stop
Until I shake her hand.

She’s waiting now for me
In heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Just over in Gloryland
We’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand
Are shouting victory.

Their songs of sweetest praise
Drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know
I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home
Then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore.

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Joe Donnermeyer


      I teach an online course at The Ohio State University (new, this semester) titled “Amish Society”, after the classic and still worth-reading book by John Hostetler. I found this particular posting to be the kind that I would recommend to my students about the diversity within Amish and other plain Anabaptist groups and the need for all of us to recognize that our knowledge of the Amish (whether we ourselves are Amish, from another Plain Anabaptist group, or a Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist etc. background) cannot know nor understand all of the nuanced practices that emerge from their beliefs and values across the 2,500 plus Amish church groups out there in 31 US states, 4 Canadian provinces and two South America countries.

      1. I’m glad you thought so Joe, so it wasn’t just me blowing off some steam:) I am curious how much of Amish Society you use in the course, does it serve as a framework of sorts? I would agree it’s still worth reading. I believe that was the first book I ever read on the Amish. I also like his Amish Roots compilation.

    2. Larry Simon

      Joyful Famuly

      During this time of the Coronavirus it was sure nice to see a large family group singing together! Thanks to the Amish for love God and each other so much. Much needed!
      God’s Blessings

      1. Yes I agree Larry – I will keep covering the coronavirus topic as it continues to be relevant, but will try to balance it with other posts like this. I am getting a bit tired of it and some others are I think as well, but it is the dominant story right now and I think important to keep covering. I hope to have some more uplifting or at least neutral posts to share in the coming days and weeks:)

    3. Michael B Caron

      Remember the Maine skeptics

      Back when there was media coverage of the Amish meat and cheese shop and other businesses here in Thordike and Unity I recall comments that insisted they were not “real” Amish because their beards included hairy caterpillars under their noses. One of the most interesting aspects of Amish religious communities to me is tracing and understanding where and how the endless differences originated and spread geographically.I wish more people, including the Amish, understood some basics about how things, including the Corvid-19 virus, spread. There are as many ways things spread as there are variations among Amish communities, but the spread of the pandemic from large urban areas to rural areas is as predictable as the way miniskirts and pop music trends arrive in rural America. In this case, however it will not matter that those trends have little chance of penetrating the Amish wall of resistance. This virus ain’t rock n’ roll. That reality is nothing to sneeze at.

      1. The Maine mustache is an interesting example Michael. I would say that’s one of the more unusual “deviations from the norm” among the Amish but illustrates the point well. Thanks for reminding about it.

    4. Cheryl Miller

      Thanks for your commentary

      My aunt, who belonged to an Old Order Amish church outside Nappanee, Indiana, recently died. At her funeral I was quite surprised that some of the preaching was done in English. The Bishops explained this was being done in consideration of the number of English speakers (non-Amish) who were in attendance. Most extended families of the Amish include people who are not Amish. There are always some who left the church and raised their families in another faith, but they are still part of the family and attend events like weddings and funerals. I appreciate your comments about the diversity of Amish practices. There most definitely is not one way to practice an Amish way of life.

      1. That is an interesting example Cheryl, that was considerate of them. Not all Amish churches would do that but seems like it would fit in the Nappanee area. I’ve heard snippets of English preaching while attending Amish church, but it feels a bit weird when you’re the only English person there (though I was grateful for it). My condolences on the loss of your aunt.

        1. Cheryl Miller

          Amish diversity

          Both of my parents were raised in the Old Order Amish church, one in the Nappanee, Indiana, area and the other in the Shipshewana, Indiana, area. There were and are definite differences in how they live, with the Shipshewana group being more “conservative” than the Nappanee group. While Amish basic religious beliefs (adult baptism, pacifism, etc.) are the same, there is diversity in how to live day to day life.

    5. Lydia Good

      Love this song

      I can almost hear my mother singing this song. This was one of her favorites. , Bach1521’s comments got under my skin too, after just reading them. He came across as a Mr. Know it All who doesn’t know much at all. I highly doubt that he has any Amish heritage. And if he does, it was generations ago. Who ever heard of an “Amish Commune?” When I was a kid many moons ago, my mother sang all the time. In ENGLISH. Us children all learned to love to sing in English. I don’t remember that we ever sang any German songs at home, except possibly the Lob Song. When my parents were still living and we got together as a family, we always had our singing sessions for mom and dad in English. All the old time favorite hymns. And yes, there were also video cameras recording the singing at various times. Mom and Dad were aware of it and didn’t object. Every Amish community is different. Some are super strict and some are more lenient.

      1. Well said, Lydia. I’m happy the singing here brought back good memories.

      2. Geo


        Amen Lydia, those who know everything are typically wrong about a lot. In person we walk away from such people dismissing them as blowhards.

    6. Cynthia Bliss

      Bach 1521

      Where are Bach 1521’s comments? I don’t see them here?

      1. I excerpted a couple and linked to them above, you can see the full thread on the YouTube comments section here:

    7. Bach1521 irritated me

      Thanks Eric. Your response to Bach1521 was timely. My perspective is having been Amish as a youngster and cherishing my childhood – my family became Mennonite when I was 15 years old. We have been hosting/arranging Amish volunteers from IN, OH, PA,in disaster projects in Mississippi the past six years. Just an example of how non-Amish can dignify (and not despair) the qualities of the Christian faith of the Amish.
      I forwarded this link to Caleb, a Napannee,IN school teacher with internet access. I suggested that he should join and “be Eric’s back-up” on all questions. Myths are crazy, the truth is to be chosen. Larry Miller