• I was asked today to play for a funeral tomorrow. The closing is "On Eagle's Wings" which I, still a rookie organist, have never played. Not only that, but I've been informed that it will be instrumental. Presumably, people are supposed to hear the melody. Can anyone help me with how to play the melody with more in the left hand than just one note at a time? It is decidedly difficult to read the left hand and melody at the same time (see attachment). I have less than 24 hours.
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  • MarkB
    Posts: 179
    If I were in your situation, I'd just read the top staff as a lead sheet and fake an instrumental playing the melody in the right hand and something based on the chords in the left to fill it out harmonically.

    It's a closing piece, so people will be walking out and not paying much attention. It's an instrumental, people just want to hear the familiar melody. When you get to the refrain, milk it with a faked accompaniment and people will love it. It's not a classic. Just fake it.
  • RCS333
    Posts: 16
    Yes, Just play the melody. Even half and whole note chords in the left hand can be fine if you are pressed for time.
  • Many thanks, I worked it out: broken chords in the left hand until the refrain, in which the accompaniment plays the melody. Should work fine.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    The accompaniment is unplayable garbage on the organ. Actually, the whole thing is garbage regardless of what it is played on. I have decided it isn't worth it to argue over the body of someone's loved one, so I will play it for funerals.

    There are chord symbols underneath the score in my hymnal. I play the chords with my left hand, and melody with the right. I pick up the lowest note on the pedals.

    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • RCS333
    Posts: 16
    I second it being garbage.

    That being said, Is it really that much worse than other stuff of it’s ilk? Or do we all just have a special contempt for it because we are forced to play it at funerals time and again?
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,086
    It needs a funeral of its own
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    I never use it on Sundays, only at funerals when requested. Some folks don't ask for it. When I do play it, I put it at the beginning because I can stop as soon as the priest reaches the front. I have never made it to the 4th verse.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    It needs a funeral of its own


    I have thought Joncas probably cried all the way to the bank on that one.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • Matilda
    Posts: 68
    I seem to play this song constantly at funerals and I also play it the way Charlesw does, melody in right hand, chords in keft, low notes on pedal.I sort of offer it up every time I have to play it, assuming it gives comfort to the bereaved because I'm heartily sick of it.
  • YCG - I was just wondering, if you were asked to play this, and not ordered to play it, could you possibly beg off ("I've never played it in this way before and there's no time to work on it") and choose something better?
    Just wondering.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    You can do that but if you refuse it constantly someone might catch on. I was once asked to play another crime against music and good taste, "City of God." I refused on the basis that the hymnal accompaniment is a guitar piece and would be very difficult to translate to organ. I love the parody on that:

    Awake from your slumber.
    Arise from your sleep.
    The homily's over.
    It wasn't too deep.

    Not everyone asks for beagle's wings, but a few will inevitably ask.
    Thanked by 1Matilda
  • You could always just transcribe my (extraordinarily tongue-in-cheek) arrangement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-l2uuc4q4k, though you'll still be on your own for the verses.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    Love it! I had to listen to it twice. I have said before that Joncas should have written silent movie accompaniments, since that seems to be his style.
  • I have said before that Joncas should have written silent movie accompaniments, since that seems to be his style.


    I won't link to it here (because it causes headaches and it's not very good), but Dubois's "March of the Magi Kings" sounds as close to a silent movie accompaniment as I've ever found on the organ.

    I don't schedule "On Eagle's Wings" on weekends either. It gets requested at perhaps half the funerals I do at my parish, but my funeral choir's done it enough times that they don't have a problem finding the pitch regardless of accompaniment.
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  • Matilda
    Posts: 68
    ContraBombarde, if I could play " Eagles Wings" the way you do I would be asked to play for every funeral in town! You'd better not show that video around it you'll be doing it that way for the rest of your life.
  • ContraBombarde, if I could play " Eagles Wings" the way you do I would be asked to play for every funeral in town! You'd better not show that video around it you'll be doing it that way for the rest of your life.


    Among the many perks of working for a traditional parish is that I typically don't have to deal with requests for pieces like that. Really, the only time I play Eagles Wings is for a bit of good-natured ribbing. You should hear my rendition of "Taste and See" ;-)
  • Matilda
    Posts: 68
    Oh dear..
  • The YooHoo song (as in... "You who dwell in the shelter...") just cries out to be arranged for a Dixieland Band. Perfect for a New Orleans-style funeral!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,086
    I don’t think it is even worthy of the Jazz genre
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,828
    Old, but still of interest.

    I will strafe your house with F-16s,
    Blow you into kingdom come.
    Make you to shine like the sun.
    And blast you into the land beyond.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,646
    (Opportunistic tangent warning)

    Brings to mind:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ_zNUmr8fM

    Background on the musical difficulties of that violent scene:

    http://nautil.us/issue/30/identity/how-i-tried-to-transplant-the-musical-heart-of-apocalypse-now
  • Thanks for the laughs, I just did the melody in the right hand and broken chords in the left. The situation was such that I couldn't beg off.
    Whenever I play it, I remember something that was posted on here a few years ago:

    And He will cook you up
    Some chicken wings.
    Spin them in
    Your favorite sauce.
    Coat them in olive oiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil,
    And eat them, eat them with the palm
    Of His hand.
  • cesarfranck
    Posts: 64
    About fifteen years ago on the televised version of South Carolina's famous long-term senator and playboy, an aging mezzo sang OEW. It was one of the worst abuses of music and a voice that I have ever heard. It was in a large Southern Baptist church. If it can be located on youtube, please share for a good laugh. My solution to playing such songs is similar to what most have mentioned. Solo melody and play chords on another manual. Or, play on one manual using chords in both hands but with melody always obvious. (The pedal work is a no brainer.)
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,542
    Yoo-hoo
    Thanked by 2CharlesW cesarfranck
  • I love the "Scatter Us Out" parody of Eagle's wings:

    "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings
    Hold you in his holy claws,
    Scratch off your sins with his talons
    and place you in his nest...
    on the cliff"
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck CharlesW
  • The YooHoo song (as in... "You who dwell in the shelter...") just cries out to be arranged for a Dixieland Band. Perfect for a New Orleans-style funeral!


    Oh dear, @petrus_simplex - you done gone and tempted me beyond my ability to resist. Forgive my notably out-of-practice brass skills. This ridiculous recording is the only reason I've picked up either of those horns in months, and I play a grand total of about 20 minutes per year on each.

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  • Matilda
    Posts: 68
    Please come and play that for my funeral Contra bombarde!
  • 32ContraBombarde - Great job on the tailgate trombone! I can cover the tuba part if need be.
    Thanked by 132ContraBombarde