A police horse stands in front of the hearse that carried the casket of singer… (Justin Lane / EPA )
Reporting from Newark, N.J. — Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, wrote a touching letter in her daughter’s funeral program thanking God for her “beautiful flower” and saying that she had a sense that Whitney would not “be with me long.”
“I never told you that when you were born, the Holy Spirit told me that you would not be with me long,” Cissy Houston wrote, according the Associated Press. “And I thank God for the beautiful flower he allowed me to raise and cherish for 48 years.”
“Rest, my baby girl, in peace,” the letter ends, signed “mommie.”
PHOTOS: Whitney Houston's funeral
Whitney Houston’s funeral at her childhood church, New Hope Baptist Church, began in song from the congregation’s white-clothed gospel choir and a rousing call:
“Glory to God! God be praised!” as those in attendance at the invitation-only funeral acknowledged the words with applause.
“Whitney you are the only one who can bring all of us together,” said Pastor Joe Carter. “Today is your day, Whitney.”
FULL COVERAGE: Whitney Houston's death
Whitney Houston's silver casket draped with white flowers and flanked with two huge white floral sprays stood in front of the main podium as the Baptist “home-going service” began.
The funeral program featured a picture of Houston looking skyward and read “Celebrating the life of Whitney Elizabeth Houston, a child of God.” Inside, photos of Houston as a baby, with her mother, and with daughter, Bobbi Kristina, filled the program, the Associated Press said.
The funeral comes one week after Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel room.
Hours before the funeral dozens of fan gathered four blocks away from the church to pay their respects, the closest police permitted them to be. But most quietly left after the services began, perhaps to watch it on television.
Catherine Graham Ross, who had arrived early told The Times that she understood why the public had been kept away from the church.
"They're hurting and they need their time," she told The Times, referring to Houston's family. "We're hurting too. She touched so many people."
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