Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Funeral music

Most of the time, I don't mind doing funerals, but every once in a while you get a family that really tries my limited virtues of charity and patience.

I got a call today from the daughter of the deceased who requested the following for the upcoming mass:

Prelude: "Mary's a Grand Ol' Name" by George M. Cohan

Processional: "Be Not Afraid"

Responsorial Psalm: "All I Ask of You" (Norbet)

Gospel Acclamation: "Amen" (African-American spiritual)

Offertory: "One Bread, One Body"

Communion: "I Have Loved You"

Meditation: "Ave Maria" (Schubert)

Recessional: "How Great Thou Art"

Two highlights from our conversation:

1) When I was trying to gently persuade her to actually program a psalm during the responsorial psalm, she said, "Well, we've already printed it in the program." She printed the program without consulting me first. Thanks.

2) I told her that the text for the gospel acclamation needed to actually be "Alleluia" and she said in an irritated tone, "Well, now I see why people are leaving the Catholic church, saying that's it's too rigid . . . " Yikes.

I get so frustrated with the usual "funeral family": many don't go to church themselves, though the parent was devout, yet they know the liturgy so well that they believe that Broadway showtunes are appropriate, just because the song title has the name of the deceased contained within it. God help us.


At Wednesday, June 07, 2006 7:43:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

....and this wouldn’t happen if we didn’t sing “songs” during the Mass, but had a consistent plan of Proper texts.

I have yet to encounter all this, since I don’t handle music planning for funerals. This, though, is a curse as well as a blessing, as the folks who do seem to think funerals are more about consoling the living than about prayer for the deceased.

Eh well. All Souls Day can at least be more along that line.

At Thursday, June 08, 2006 9:34:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

I know one priest who was so fed up with the funeral music problem that he codified a strict program, esp. including all music. Now when a parish funeral takes place, he takes down a black binder with the word Funeral on it, shows it to the family, and says: this is what a Catholic funeral is. In other words, he permits no choice at all. He says that this approach has made a huge difference, and that the family of the deceased finds itself oddly happy to be liberated from selecting this and that etc.

At Tuesday, June 13, 2006 1:41:00 PM, Blogger Daniel Muller said...

this wouldn’t happen if we didn’t sing “songs” during the Mass, but had a consistent plan of Proper texts.

A non-Lilies-of-the-Valley Amen and alleluia to Cantor, and the idea of one funeral program is also excellent; after all, it is what the Church prescribes.

My condolences on this, erm, solemn occasion. I am sure that you handled the caller much more charitably than I would have.

Let me paraphrase quite a good wheeze from Roger Evans when he finds himself in this type of non-conversation:

"I am afraid that I do not have that particular score. If you will supply the [organ arrangement], I will be delighted to [play] it for you."


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