Music during Near-Death Experiences?

Music during Near-Death Experiences? June 27, 2018


Bosch's "Ascent to the Empyrean"
Hieronymus Bosch (d. 1516), “Ascent of the Blest”     (Wikimedia Commons public domain)


From yet another manuscript of mine:


Some of those who have undergone near-death experiences report having heard majestic, beautiful music.[1]  One experiencer says that the music was strangely familiar.[2]  A nurse in Osis and Haraldsson’s database related her experience with a seventy-six-year-old woman who had been hospitalized following a severe heart attack:

Her consciousness was very, very clear—no sedation, no hallucinogenic history.  She was cheerful and confident that she would recover and return to her daughter who badly needed her at home.  Suddenly she stretched out her arms and, smiling, called to me.  “Can’t you see Charlie [her dead husband] there with outstretched arms?  I’m wondering why I haven’t ‘gone home’ before.  Describing the vision she said, “What a beautiful place with all the flowers and music.  Don’t you hear it?  Oh, girls, don’t you see Charlie?”  She said he was waiting for her.  I feel she definitely saw her husband.[3]

“After several days of passing in and out of consciousness,” reports the author of one family memoir about his father, who was hospitalized following a severe heart attack,

Howard had not shown much improvement.  But one night he awoke and looked at the red digital clock on the wall—2:05 a.m.  At that moment he became aware of the most beautiful music.  He wasn’t so much hearing it as he was immersed in it, being filled with it.  Far away, beyond the wall with the clock, someone was walking toward him surrounded by mist and dressed in luminous white.  Fear seized Howard.  He was not sure what was happening, but it was unlike anything he had ever experienced.

As the figure approached, Howard recognized his [deceased] son.  Randy was radiant and appeared so happy.  Standing in the air, level with his bed, Randy smiled.

“Hey Dad.”

“Randy?” Howard whispered.

“Yes, it’s me.”  There was a marvelous serenity and joy emanating from him.  He continued, “Dad, you can come with me now, if you want.”

Howard was frightened and with urgency replied, “No, no.  I don’t want to.”

Randy smiled.  “Okay, okay,” was all he said.  Then the image receded and was gone.  The music faded.  Howard was alone in the darkened room with the tubes and the monitors and the graphs and the beeps. . . .

After a week, Howard was still in intensive care.  He was awake and in pain and bored.  Around noon, Howard heard the music again—wonderful, sweet, and holy.  He saw a personage approaching from a distance; it was Randy.  Again Howard saw how happy Randy was—his expression was completely joyful.

Again, Randy invited his father to come with him.  But again, although the fear was gone, Howard declined.

“Now, Dad, it’s not your time yet, so you have your choice.”  Randy paused again.  “Will you come with me?”

Howard thought for a moment, and said, “No.” . . .

Randy smiled.  “Okay, I understand.  That’s fine.”

Randy slowly faded away.  Howard listened for a moment to the music, then everything went black.[4]

“I could see people from the other world,” reported Ella Jensen, a fifteen-year-old girl suffering from scarlet fever in 1891, “and hear the most delightful music and singing that I ever heard.  This singing lasted six hours, during which time I was preparing to leave this earth, and I could hear it all through the house.”[5]  In his famous Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (“Ecclesiastical History of the English People”), the early eighth century scholar and monk known as The Venerable Bede, tells of an Irish holy man named Fursey who

fell ill and entered a trance; and quitting his body from sunset to cockcrow, was privileged to see the choirs of angels, and to hear the songs of the blessed.  He used to say that, among other things, he clearly heard them sing: “The saints shall go from strength to strength’, and ‘The God of gods shall be seen in Sion’.  Then he returned to bodily consciousness.[6]

Accounts elsewhere indicate that those in the vicinity of the dying person have sometimes heard such music, as well.[7]  The English historian Bede says that, at the death of the nun Earcongota, “many brethren of the monastery, who lived in separate buildings, said that they had clearly heard choirs of angels singing and a sound like that of a great throng entering the monastery.”[8]

The Gallup organization found that 17% of those claiming near-death experiences also reported audible sounds or voices.[9]  In Ring and Cooper’s study of NDEs among the blind, 33% recalled noise or music.[10] 


[1]  $Moody, Life after Life, 29-30; $compare Barrett, Death-Bed Visions, 42; Myers, Voices from the Edge of Eternity, 32, 165-166, 199, 208, 224.

[2] Kenneth Ring, “Amazing Grace: The Near-Death Experience as a Compensatory Gift,” Journal of Near-Death Studies 10/1 (Fall 1991): 29.

[3] $Osis and Haraldsson, At the Hour of Death, 82-83.

[4] Ron McMillan and Randy McMillan, And Should We Die . . .  A Young Man’s Experience with the Miraculous (Idaho Falls: American Family Publications, 2003): 175-177.  Ron McMillan is a former neighbor of mine, and a co-author (with Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, and Al Switzler) of, among other things, the 2002 New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2002).

[5] LeRoi C. Snow, “Raised from the Dead,” The Improvement Era 32/12 (October 1929): 973.  [See original.]

[6] Bede, A History of the English Church and People, III.19 (p. 172) [italics in original].  Compare the story of St. Chad, bishop of the Mercians {d. 672 A.D.), recounted at IV.3 (pp. 209-210).

[7]  $See Barrett, Death-Bed Visions, 45-46, 96-104.

[8] Bede, A History of the English Church and People, III.8 (p. 154).

[9]   Moody, The Light Beyond, 6.  [Find original.]  An example occurs in $Nelson, Beyond the Veil, 2:139.

[10] Ring and Cooper, Mindsight, 38.

[11] $Osis and Haraldsson, At the Hour of Death, 168-169.


Posted from Newport Beach, California



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