• mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    After a recent incident involving a funeral, I'm roughing out an article on "the good, the bad, and the ugly" in the Ordinary Form Latin Rite funerals. I will certainly review all of your previous comments, testimonies, thoughts, rants on this topic.

    Is there anything else you'd like me to think or write about - good and/or bad? I would particularly like to hear from any priests who frequent this forum because I'm interested in the pastoral viewpoint as well.

    If you'd like to write "off the record," send me an email at maryjane "at" mjballou.com and I'll be in touch.

    This is one service all of us will attend - only at that point, we won't have a chance to vet the music.

    Many thanks in advance.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I've had some success in controlling the end of the funeral Mass. "We always do the same two songs at the end," I always say: the Song of Farewell and the In Paradisum. For people who are allergic to Latin we sing In Paradisum in English.

    The reason I came to be so adamant, by the way, is one day, before I knew anything at all about funerals, one of the parish priests sat down with me and patiently went through the Rite with me, until I understood exactly what was going on and what it meant. It was one of those very productive meetings that results in a real policy.
  • looking forward to the article . . .
  • At Saint Edward in Newark, CA we have a pretty fixed format for a N.O. Funeral:
    Entr: Requiem aeternam
    Psalm: Plainsong settings by Fr. Jeff Keyes
    Alleluia: Tone 6 Paschal Alleluias w/ Requiem aeternam verse.
    Offertory: Instr. or vocal, example: Pie Jesu... Faure Requiem
    Sanctus: Mass XVIII or "Community Mass" ... Proulx
    Agnus Dei: Mass XVIII
    Comm: Lux aeterna w/ Ps. De Profundis (From "Communio")
    (Possible Special vocal or hymn)
    Incensation: Quiet improv on "Sub venite"
    Closing: In Paradisum/ Chorus angelorum
    (If deceased was a veteran, possiblity of service hymn after "In Paradisum")

    This seems to work well: especially in bi-lingual liturgies. Occasionally we may
    use more of the Requiem from the "Gregorian Missal."
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    I knew I could count of Fr. Jeff Keyes' parish to have something with reverence, history, and style. Thanks.
  • The cantor for a funeral at 10 in the morning attempted to schedule "Let It Be"....after all, it mentions Mary....

    The funeral is for a great guy, a rocker. I emphasized how much more appropriate that would be this evening at the funeral home....and she said, "Is this how Catholic funeral are?"
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    And to send appropriate recognition to MJ, from Amy Welborn's blog:

    Mary Jane Ballou came to the funeral home on Sunday and played the harp for three hours during the visitation, sparing us from canned music and adding her own special gift and presence. God bless her, and it was just wonderful to meet her. She is wonderful.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    After blushing modestly, I will say that visitations can be a wonderful place for all the devotional music that many people love. And many pieces that drive me nuts with their words turn into very sweet instrumentals. If we can keep moving the devotional into its proper place, whether it's the CD in the car or visitations and prayer meetings, we can carve an opening for the truly liturgical.

    The music for Michael Dubruiel's funeral Mass was a good compromise, considering the resources that were available on the Cathedral music staff:
    No opening hymn, but the Litany of the Saints as the body was brought in.
    Responsorial and Alleluia - standards - but no Marty Haugen
    Offertory was organ alone.
    Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Requiem Mass
    Communion hymn - Berthier "Eat this Bread"
    Song of Farewell - the Old Hundredth version
    In paradisum and Chorus angelorum used as the recessional

    The simple tone Salve Regina was sung outside by the 25 or so priests who concelebrated with Bishops Baker, Holly, and Snyder.
  • I have recently started playing for funerals again: I had forgotten that you get requests. Imagine waking up in the morning , all armed with your Lux aeternam and Dies Irae, whistling In Paradisum -
    and suddenly you see a note on the refrigerator with requests. Then the phone rings and its a relative of the deceased who is a professional singer and needs to rehearse eagle's wings a whole hour before: and she has a different list of requests.

    Funerals are difficult and long term effort is necessary.

    What documents most clearly forbid the use of songs and paraphrases in place of the responsorial psalm?

    At my father's recent funeral we were able to satisfy every one's requests and maintain a very solemn liturgy,
    the opening was the Litany of the Saints chanted acapella.
    The psalm and the Alleluia were chanted to tone vi acapella by me; I stepped in to my mother's delight,
    otherwise we would have defaulted to shepherd me (OH God !) and the Celtic alleluia.
    The program provided to the congregation was simply the
    "In Paradisum, " from the Parish Book of Chant printed on card stock.

    I have noticed that the funeral homes are directing the families' hymn selections.
    They and the parish secretaries influence the liturgies too.
    here's a quick war story.
    Once a funeral director had called me with an unusual request ( It could have been Led Zepplin or Hank Williams) . I declined : but suggested that the funeral home play the piece during the visitation. The funeral director felt that the piece was too inappropriate for his funeral home but thought it was necessary for the church to provided as a gesture of compassion.
    It will be best to restrict requests to one or two pieces of sacred music. A firm policy is often received very well.
  • St. Theresa in Sugar Land, TX (which has a chant workshop tomorrow and Saturday!) has a good approach to this.

    They have one, standard set of funeral selections that they use as defaults. This relieves families of the burden of liturgical planning, a task they generally don’t know how to execute, at a time when the last thing they need is another set of decisions to make. Of course, they accommodate families who make special requests.

    I am convinced that what most bereaved do when asked to plan funeral music is go down a list of suggestions (if they are given one) and immediately gravitate to their own favorites, the deceased’s favorites, or just the stuff they know. If it’s a choice between “On Eagle’s Wings” or Requiem æternam, they don’t have the energy to be told that the former really is most appropriate for Lent, not funerals, and the latter is the Church’s traditional funeral entrance chant text, in a language they generally don’t understand and aren’t used to being asked to work with. In this light, it’s perfectly natural that the state of funeral music is what it is....which I think most here, and most who really look at it objectively, will agree is not much like what it should be.

    In my own parish, the bereaved are not asked to choose a responsorial psalm from the “Through Death to Life” book. They are given a list of suggestions whose listings for the responsorial psalm, despite my efforts (even as music director!) to change them, still have only a few Haugen/Haas pieces....so, take a wild guess, everyone, at what song usually is sung, illicitly, as the responsorial psalm at funerals in my parish....and then the liturgy director, God love her, will pass on the funeral music to me with the comment of “No surprises here...” I mean, of course there are no surprises....we don’t tell them about anything else!

    One thing that I do think is done well in funerals is Dennis Smolarski’s LM adaptation of the Subvenite text. The rite, for better or for worse, basically mandates congregational singing at the commendation, so that’s a good way to have something like the traditional text and also satisfy the ritual’s requirements. Thankfully, this seems to be replacing the Ernest Sands “May the choirs of angels” in my parish. (It’s a good song, I think, but more appropriately sung as an exit, not at the commendation.)
  • I was so hoping to know that you would be involved with Michael's funeral, Mary Jane. God blesses you as He has Michael, Amy and their children.

    Out here we're in a spate. Choir member's mom in the AM Friday, and a deputy sheriff at 1PM, Governor Schwarzeneggar attending upon latest notice. I love these spectacles, so (NOT). The elegance and sparing simplicity of your devotional playing and the funeral order at Michael's funeral makes me long for....

    Got the call from chapel on Tuesday. Deceased's family requested only two pieces of music for Mass, none for Vigil.
    Wendy and I did Vigil tonight (no guvernator) with Schubert, Whitaker-Sullivan and a few others including "Precious Lord," as the decedent was, ahem, lapsed.

    So the two requests: Amazing Grace (pro forma) and "One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus" (Kris Kristofferson)

    In the immortal words of the bomber (Dennis Hopper) in "Speed," "Pop quiz....what're you gonna do, hotshot?"
    Pastor was concerned, actually made cell phone call!
    This is the result:

    Organ Selections (organist choices)
    “In Every Age” (Sullivan-Whitaker; all musicians)
    “Pavane/Kyrie eleison” Gabriel Faure (organ, singers, flute)
    “Sheep May Safely Graze” J.S. Bach (organ, 2 flutes, soprano)

    Greeting and Entrance Processional: “Amazing Grace” (J. Coates, arr.)
    I'll be at narthex, after receiving rite, I will play/improvise (flute ala Hubert Laws) upon AG while processing to music area.
    Hymn: All sing (all musicians)

    Responsorial: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Respond and Acclaim) all musicians/congregation

    Gospel Acclamation: “Alleluia” (threefold, Mode VI Gregorian) all sing

    Offertory: “Inscription of Hope” (Z. Randall Stroope) -sidenote, the anonymous text from Dresden bombing provided pastor with homily material.

    Holy: Paul Inwood “Responsorial” S cantor; all musicians and congregation respond
    Christ has died/Amen: Mass of Creation-all sing (Whaddya gonna do?)

    Fraction Rite: Agnus Dei (chant) all sing


    “Ave verum corpus” (chanted)
    “Ave verum corpus” (Charles Culbreth)
    “This is my Body (Charles Culbreth)

    Post-Communion: “Pie Jesu” (G. Faure) soprano.organ, flute obl.

    After final commendation: “In paradisum” (chanted-Latin/English)

    Recessional: “One Day at a Time” (Kristofferson) all musicians -ite Missa est, after all.

    Postlude: organist selections

    Gilding the callililies, but what given the circumstances, "whaddya gonna do, hotshot" will likely witness to RC'ism when the option for the family was taking it to the local Assembly of God megachurch.