Funeral / Burial Customs

According to Dr. Timothy Kloberdanz, noted authority on Volga German folklore, when Protestant Volga Germans in the US or Canada are asked what German hymns traditionally were/are sung at the graveside, there are two common responses: "Wo findet die Seele die Heimat, die Ruh" (Where Does the Soul Find Its Home, Its Rest) and "Lass mich gehn" (Let Me Go).

However, Dr. Kloberdanz recounts that Protestant Volga Germans often painted the following words on the lids of homemade wooden coffins - "Gute Nacht, ihr meine Freund'" (Good Night, My Friends/Relatives). This phrase undoubtedly references the burial hymn "Es ist genug!" - No. 703 in the Wolga Gesangbuch - which contains these very same words. As the coffin slowly was lowered into the grave, the mourners could see words on the coffin that were the same as those in the final farewell song that they were singing.

Dr. Kloberdanz further notes that the Catholics on the Volga traditionally sang the funeral hymn "Das Schicksal wird keinen verschonen" (The Fate That Will Spare No One). This was sung at the graveside as the coffin slowly was lowered into the ground.