Funeral Music Document...looking for suggestions
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    I am very new at this 'directing' thing, and the last director had a ''different music program''. I am re-building the program from the bottom up, and I have re-done the 'Funeral Music' list. I am wondering if some of you Veterans here might have a look at it and see if it's ok- wondering if you might add anything else.
    My pastor is fine with it, although he told me I'm going to get a lot of requests for 'On Eagles Wings', and I explained to him I would rather do 'pieces/hymns/songs' such as that as a prelude, and he's fine with that. I told him I would rather give the people better choices, and if they ask for other choices, I will have to deal with those on a case by case basis.
    Thank you so much in advance!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Jenny
  • Very nice selection. I see that you have included the Lux aeterna and the In paradisum - wonderful! And agree with your reasoning for leaving out the "Greatest Hits" or using them as preludes if requested. I would put "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" in the same category, but that's a judgment call.

    My only suggestion would be to set the opening and closing chants as Requiem aeternam and In paradisum, with the family choosing the songs for offertory and communion. Right now most people will assume that they are excepted to choose "four songs," which simply perpetuates the "four hymn sandwich" model.

    In my experience many people are fine - even relieved - to have to choose only two songs. (If they insist on four you can tell them that "the policy" is that two of the four can be sung as preludes.) With the family processing to the altar and leaving with the coffin after the final blessing, the opening and closing really aren't good spots for congregational singing anyway. And if you sing the communion antiphon as your first "communion song" you have included three propers at each funeral mass without a lot of grief (sorry - no pun intended!).

    Of course all this depends on your pastor's OK.
    Thanked by 1stepg
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    Great! Thank you so much! I kind of thought the same thing about the 'Amazing Grace' and 'How Great Thou Art' but I thought it was just me.
    My pastor is great with me introducing the Introit and Communion Proper (in English) to the congregation so the two hymn idea is a good one too.
    Thanks so much!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,158
    Perhaps you should add an "*" to "In paradisum" clarifying its specific liturgical purpose.
    Despite any MJO admonition, I'd add "Be still my soul (Finlandia)" to your list.

    Nice job.
    Thanked by 1stepg
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    Great, thank you so much!! I had forgotten about 'Be Still My Soul'.
    I really appreciate it!
  • Your selections are very good. As for the "Eagle's Wings" variety, I've been fortunate enough for the past 6-1/2 years now to have a pastor who has that stuff blacklisted under any circumstances. I know mileage may vary from pastor to pastor, but your suggestion of moving that stuff to prelude is a start.
    Thanked by 1stepg
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 758
    You might go a step further my making an outline of the "ideal" funeral with a couple music suggestions for each part, while still being flexible enough to allow for additional requests if appropriate. For example, for the entrance you might list three options: A) Proper chant in Latin, B) Proper chant in English C) another hymn--refer to list.

    Otherwise, you might get people requesting the In Paradisum as an Entrance hymn or something similar. It would be best to not overwhelm people with too many choices, but to simply say this is what we typically do, but if you have a specific song in mind we can take that into consideration, and then you can decide to use it at offertory or as prelude, etc.

    There's also the practical consideration that people processing in won't have hymnals in hand (or want to use them). Which is why something with a simple response would be better suited.
  • @Earl_Grey this approach is what has been working for me. We currently use a mix of latin/english propers as outlined below:

    Entrance: Requiem Aeternam
    Responsorial Psalm: Chanted to psalm tone in english (usually psalm 22)
    Alleluia: Typically a gregorian-like refrain with chanted verse
    Offertory: Lord, Jesus Christ (either from Simple English Propers or Richard Rice's collection of offertories)
    Communion: Lux Aeterna
    Absolution: Fr. Samuel Weber's Subvenite in english.
    Procession to cemetery (recessional): In Paradisum (in english)

    I usually have someone from the family reach out to me and I tell them that if they have any hymn suggestions they should let me know and we will try to incorporate them into the mass, but I stress that they needn't feel that they must fill up the mass with music, as the church already provides for this. It has been mostly well received with one or two notable exceptions. As you said, this approach allows us control over what the "hymns" are and where they go in the mass, which I think is a great thing.
  • Excellent approach, Settefrati93, especially what you say in the last paragraph. I have a similar approach and the longer I have it in place, the more I'm convinced that most people accept it if is presented in a calm and rational way.
    Thanked by 2Settefrati93 stepg
  • I've always felt like—while expected—it's odd to give the task of planning music to the grieving family members who have no formal training in liturgy or music. The attached form was a sample given at a class on funerals taught by the diocesan liturgy institute many years ago. I really love the section on music.

    Presently, my (now past) parish will give a booklet containing music (melody and text, as would be printed in the program) for the selections that are "approved" and the families are given that to assist their preparation. This process was spearheaded by an individual not in the music office and has been contentious, but I don't see it changing soon. Nice to not have to meet with the families at all, though.
    Thanked by 3Jenny stepg rich_enough
  • KARU27
    Posts: 87
    Hmmm. When I looked at the list, I felt a bit overwhelmed - - I think there are way too many choices for the average person. I agree with the idea of just choosing two hymns, and I would maybe suggest three or four hymn choices as "ideal" for those two slots.
    Thanked by 2stepg rich_enough
  • Immaculate Mary - really??? As far as music drek goes, it's a lot worse than most, and in many places there's not even agreement on how to sing the chorus!
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    Thank you all so much!! I really appreciate all of your insight and wisdom. I'm really hopeful to be able to eliminate the 'four hymn deal' and I really love these suggestions and hope to be able to institute most if not all of your suggestions. Thank you so much again!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,417
    For a meditation by cantor or choir, it would be good to be able to offer I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say to THIRD MODE MELODY adapted from Tallis. It's much more plaintive than KINGSFOLD, and I believe more suited to the funeral liturgy.
    Thanked by 2rich_enough stepg
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    Thanks for this. I was just looking at Tallis' Third Mode yesterday for something different for my choir! I didn't realize this hymn was adapted to this tune (like I said before, I am new at this and really appreciate all the concrete suggestions). I am really loving all of your suggestions and I thank you so much.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,417
    Understand that there are two common ways of dealing with the second "weary" in the first stanza with that tune: "wear-y and worn and sad" vs "so wear-y, worn and sad". The former is original, the second an adaptation thereof.

    This from the 1940 Hymnal is a good source:
    Thanked by 1stepg
  • stepgstepg
    Posts: 11
    Thanks! Yes I have a copy of the 1940.
    Thank you again, and thank you to everyone. I've redone the list and taken all of your comments and used them.
    I love this site!
    Stephanie :)
    Thanked by 1rich_enough