Funeral Masses
  • Hello,

    I am the director of sacred music at a standard suburban parish. I have made substantial strides in some areas. For example, during Lent, I have them do the propers a capella (no hymns at any point). We just moved to a new hymnal two weeks ago and I want to seize the opportunity to correct what goes on at the funeral liturgy. I had already replaced the Celtic with the standard Alleluia chant and the proper verse. I had added the Introit and Communio (but the family still gets to pick hymns that follow those). Additionally, I stopped the previous practice of substituting songs for the Psalm and the Subvenite. There have still been arguments, but by and large things have moved on. As I said, with the addition of the new hymnal, I would like take this opportunity to rid some other things. I do not believe that I have the political capital to only do the antiphon at Offertory (and Offertory is too short to do both an antiphon and a hymn). However, I would like to remove the option for a "song of sending forth" and only do the In Paradisum for the procession to the place of committal. Has anyone been able to make headway in modern, suburban parishes where people are committed to doing things as they "always have been"? Any advice? Any way to approach delicate subjects like funerals?

    Thanks for your help.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 368
    Simply remove the option for a closing hymn, and explain that there is already appointed music for the end of the liturgy---In Paradisum. Offer to do a favorite hymn as part of the prelude, or even suggest it be done at the wake. You have to have the backing of yoru boss, though.
    Thanked by 2rich_enough JonLaird
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,023
    (And the boss will need to be invited to think through how he would support this being consistently applied regardless of who has died.)
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • I love what you are doing and have been doing the same thing at my parish.

    I have successfully implemented the offertory antiphon in place of a hymn and also the in paradisum at the ending procession. Typically I will do a hymn after the in paradisum.

    The key is consistency and it is a bit of an issue where I am. It is a work in progress. The pastor has to back you up
    Thanked by 1leprechaun093
  • Settefrati93,

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. How were you able to make the change at Offertory? For the In Paradisum, you do that as the first piece and then let the family do something after that? Or only if the family demands that they get to select a "song of sending forth"?

    Anything else you've done in your parish? Curious to see what else I could push the envelope on.

    Thanks for your help.
  • In general, with funerals and weddings now, I just ask the family/couple if they have any special requests and I make it clear that they shouldn't go crazy trying to fill in the blanks if they aren't sure what they're doing. If you have requests we'll try to accommodate them but the prayers of the mass come first. With this, I just kind of started doing the offertory proper rather than a hymn. If they gave me a list of four hymns one is left out (at my choosing) and we go on from there. I try to involve the family as little as possible with these decisions. When it really comes down to it, the people will not even remember what they asked for in most cases. They are going thru tough times and don't need to worry about the small details. Anyway, the church already tells us what we are supposed to do.

    Also, you hit the nail on the head with the in paradisum. That's exactly what I do. But only if they ask for it specifically.
    Thanked by 1leprechaun093
  • hilluminar
    Posts: 80
    What is the "standard Alleluia chant and proper verse" for OF funerals? I understood that there are several legitimate options for this. What do you use? Also, In Paradisum is just a song of sending forth. Nothing else. In fact, if you look at the words it appears quite modern. It tells the deceased to "go forth to Paradise", and "let angels take you by the hand". Sounds like a modern funeral hymn to me, if it were not chanted and in Latin.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    In our place, the priest sings in paradisum. Then we do a recessional hymn as priest processes out with the casket.
    Thanked by 1leprechaun093
  • Hilluminar,

    I use Mode VI for the Alleluia.

    In Paradisum is not a song of sending forth. In the first place, there is no such thing in the rite. There is a chant, hymn, or song (or whatever you want to call it) that accompanies the procession to the place of committal, not a song of sending forth. It is similar to the Holy Thursday one would dream of doing a recessional hymn there. The rite concludes with the final blessing at the place of committal.

    The In Paradisum is not like modern songs. The verb tenses are in the subjunctive. It is a request...a desire, as opposed to songs today that declare a definitive conclusion.
  • hilluminar
    Posts: 80

    The mode VI Alleluia may be the standard, but it is not specifically for funerals. There is, btw, an Alleluia chant that is specifically for preceding the Gospel at OF funerals, that is contained in the Gregorian Missal.

    And also, I am aware that In Paradisum is supposed to accompany the funeral procession to the place of committal, but it seems to be that whenever it is sung at a funeral, it is done as the recessional, or sending forth hymn. No one chants anything anymore on our way to the place of committal. We just all get in our cars and drive to the cemetery. Maybe if the cemetery were right by the church we could manage In Paradisum on our way out to the grave.
  • a song of sending forth

    The sheer awkwardness of this expression in English should demonstrate that there is no such thing.
  • Chris... Hahahahaha, absolutely... Alas, reason does not prevail
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,925
    Am I mistaken that "In paradisum" is to be the final chant sung at the door of the church after the recessional?
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Melofluent,

    That's been my struggle. There is no recessional. The rite includes the burial at the graveyard. Therefore, the rite does not conclude in the church and thus it is not a dismissal as it may be considered on a regular Sunday Mass. Yes, as hilluminar pointed out, the processions have changed from centuries ago where we walked to the graveyard next door. Nonetheless, it is still a funeral procession. Even the secular world refers to a row of cars behind a hearse as a funeral procession. It's just a longer journey. God forbid we instill a sense of reverence in people as we drive our cars to a cemetery.

    I feel strongly about the funeral Mass even more so than a Sunday Mass because I feel it is negligent to deny the deceased what the Church has promised him: prayers and supplication for his soul. While the propers can be arguably substituted on Sunday and daily Masses, the propers at a funeral are prayers for the deceased. They're not meant to make us feel better per se. They're meant for the deceased. There is no hymn that is an adequate substitution for the funeral propers and to take those away is a shame because, as I've argued, it is to deny these people what the Church has promised them, whether they like it or not.

    The trouble I struggle with is how to help educate people to reach this point. We live in a world where the liturgy has become like a menu and is only about making us feel better. I have made substantial strides at Sunday Masses because I'm with those people week after week. I can prepare them for a change months ahead of time so its not a surprise. However, with funerals, we don't have the same preparation time and it's such a delicate and difficult moment. That is on what my questions have centered. I cannot simply throw in the towel and say I can do nothing, but how does one slowly migrate towards the desire of the rubrics...for the good of souls.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,925
    Nicely stated, I abused the word "recessional" to refer to the transfer of the casket from the transept to narthex. My bad.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 479
    The Roman rite doesn't do 'recessionals', (what would be receding?). The official offer is: After the end of a funeral Mass we have 1/ Commendation and valediction, 2/ "Dum corpus effertur ex ecclesia" (optionally): In paradisum (or other antiphon) with Psalm 113 (GS gives 8 verses), 3/ Procession to the cemetery. So functionally the In paradisum could/should accompany getting the coffin from before the altar out into the hearse. Oh well! dream on!
    Thanked by 1WGS
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,925
    In paradisum could/should accompany getting the coffin from before the altar out into the hearse. Oh well! dream on!

    I suppose that someone(s) among us could re-arrange the Faure for kybd/voice.