Your comments on music for a funeral...
  • I am posting this for someone who has contacted me about whether or not America The Beautiful could be sung at a Mass. I replied that it could be sung after Mass. Here is what she wrote: [she will be following this discussion] And thank you all for helping. I could think of no other grop of people who might be able to adequately answer her than the CMAA Forum.


    Thank you for the quick response - I was wondering about that since they sang it at the end of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy's funeral mass on Saturday ( I was watching it on CNN). When I heard it, I was extremely frustrated because during a funeral mass for my baby girl several years ago, the priest wouldn't allow the song, "Jesus Loves Me" to be included in her funeral mass because it apparently wasn't a "Catholic-approved-song." To this day, I still don't understand why that song couldn't be included. If you ask me, "Jesus Loves Me" is much more applicable to the Christian faith than "America the Beautiful." If you have any insight on this (or know of a website I could go to for more information), I'd appreciate it!</>
  • I understood the recessional or 'sending' song to be extra-liturgical, i.e. not part of the Mass. Mass "ends" with the dismissal, "Ite Missa est" (EF) or "The Mass is ended, go in peace" (OF). Ergo, America the Beautiful is NOT being sung at Mass.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    I'd be very curious to what this priest thinks IS a "Catholic approved song..." (I somehow doubt that the rest of the funeral was filled exclusively with stuff from the Graduale...)

    Also, I think that is pretty heartless and devoid of all charity as well as pastoral care to forbid a song that is theologically sound, after a such a request.
  • maramjoy, as RL fans would say, MEGA-DITTOS!

    Can anyone suggest a theological reason for Jesus Love Me to be excluded?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Aesthetic reason: that hymn is related to a lack of seriousness about the Christian faith, and furthermore associated with children and the simple. Pastorally, I would avoid it out of fear someone may take offense at its presence.
  • What can be more serious than a child's pure love for Jesus?

    Jesu dulcis memoria.

    Jesus loves me, this I know. [try it to the Jesu Dulcis tune....all perceived silliness of the usual melody disappears]

    And why, oh why, has no one done this to Jesus Loves Me:

    http://www.latinisedhymns.org.uk/first_lines_english
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,507
    "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so..."

    "Yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so."

    Are there any problems with describing the Bible as the source for our knowledge of Jesus' love for us, and not mentioning the Church herself as a more fundamental bearer of divine revelation; and not mentioning the holy sacraments, which are the great witness of Christ's love?
  • Isn't the "source" of our knowledge of Jesus' love for us Jesus Himself? If our faith is as purely founded as we all like to believe then no, the Bible doesn't tell us so, Jesus Himself does. Theological hiccup? Is this not a defining difference between we Catholics and our (Protestant) Christian brethren: the belief in Jesus Christ as God Incarnate as opposed to what the Bible says about Him?
  • Tom,
    Are you saying then that we don't need th Bible or that the Church's tradition, including its liturgy, doesn't rely on scripture? Without biblical revelation, i.e. the Gospels, we would not have full knowledge of Jesus' love fo us. There are differences in understanding of revelation between Catholics and Protestants, but I don't think this children's song touches the core of that argumentation.

    As to Gavin's aesthetic objection, I wonder if he would feel differently if an Anglican composer like Eric Thiman or Harold Friedell had arranged that melody for mixed voices. Like food, it's all in the presentation.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Dear ___,

    My condolences on your loss.

    You are asking for reasons, and so I will try to offer a reasonable and logical answer.

    The Vatican Two council produced its first document
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html
    and addressed the regulating of the liturgy in # 22

    We do not have to like it; we just ought to expect it:
    a priest is to fill his office and duty as asked by the Church
    because he promised obedience, to do so, at his ordination.

    So, what does the Church ask?

    Canon law regarding Church funerals is at
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4A.HTM
    "must be celebrated according to the norm of the liturgical laws".

    The official music for a funeral can be seen in (25 MB, right-click, save)
    http://www.musicasacra.com/books/gregorianmissal-eng.pdf
    See PDF page 688 and following.

    In the USA it is permitted to use music other than the above, within specified limits
    as enumerated in the General Instruction of the Roman MIssal (GIRM)
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20030317_ordinamento-messale_en.html
    Entrance # 47-48
    Preparation of the Gifts # 74
    Communion # 86-87
    Post-Communion # 88

    As to the Recessional/Final Hymn -- officially there is no such thing.
    The only post-Vatican Two references are in
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_instr_19670305_musicam-sacram_en.html
    singing at the end of Mass has limited focus # 36
    organ solo at the end of Mass # 65

    The GIRM # 48 option 4 indicates "approved by the Conference of Bishops or the diocesan Bishop"
    and hymnals contain material that falls into that category;
    in the front of hymnals you will find the statement "with ecclesiastical approval".
    Even what is generally permitted by inclusion can have an inappropriate use.

    I hope your reading of the entirety of the above documents will be fruitful
    and help you to understand the mind of the Church, and why the priest said what he said.
    Our familiarity with the content and meaning of these documents will go a long way toward
    achieving a Vatican Two desire: all of us truly understanding the Liturgy.

    I hope that in time you can rejoice in your priest being obedient when difficult for him,
    and sorrow over and pray for those less virtuous (whether by ignorance or weakness or malice).

    May your daughter rest in peace, and may she pray for us as we pray for her.

    --eft
  • What a....speechless...
  • There are two ways to look at this....eft's approach may have been the attitude taken by the priest - cold, clinical, even harsh but then their is the other side: The emotional impact of Jesus Loves Me at a child's funeral might be too much for the adults present.

    To take eft's side, that's one thing about the music of traditional Requiem Mass, it does not push modern emotional buttons, until one has studied the texts and learned what is being sung.
  • Well, in a funeral, the last hymn is technically not extra-liturgical, except at Ted Kennedy's funeral, at which all the music was basically extra-liturgical. (No sung Mass Ordinary, but lots of caterwauling.) I don't blame the average person for being confused by all this silliness.

    But I digress. The "recessional" at a funeral Mass is technically the beginning of the procession to the gravesite. There are any number of "chant propers" for this moment, but it would be going too far to say that it's not part of the liturgy. It is hardly the moment for a piece of flag-waving claptrap; the correspondent is right to point out that, whatever one may think of it, Jesus Loves Me is more appropriate than patriotic music.

    Sometimes I tire of the "all propers, all the time" outlook, but then again this would certainly settle things down for a while and avoid the occurrence of someone being scarred for life, one way or another, by an essentially arbitrary decision on the part of a priest. For what it's worth, often the Tradition of the church has figured out far better than any of us could what is appropriate for various occasions. The new liturgical books have left us without some of this guidance, but the Liber Usualis has a whole section (in my copy it begins on p. 1825) dedicated to the burial of very young children. The beginning of this service is spine-tingling in its beauty. Here is the progression of Psalms:

    Ps 112: Laudate pueri Dominum
    Ps 118: Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini
    Ps 148: Line 3 is: Laudate eum, omnes Angeli ejus...
    etc.
    On the way to the cemetery, the first antiphon is: Juvenes et virgines, senes cum junioribus laudent nomen Domini.

    And all this wraps up with the Canticle of the Three Children. If you can read through all of this with a dry eye, you're a better man than me. It might offer us, at the very least, a good place to start.