• What is the current state in your church?

    What I see frequently is a singer who sings. Mass parts are sung in English so the people may participate, though they are not given anything to tell them where to find the music to sing, nor are the hymn numbers consistently announced, so a funeral can start with people singing and by Communion no one sings except the singer and the priest if he is not busy....

    So it's musically a pre-1960's music funeral with post 1960's music.

    Anyone made any progress there?

    Should families be offered a choice?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,476
    We don't offer a choice about the Song of Farewell or the In Paradisum. I offer a choice between English and Latin (or Spanish) Mass parts. If people aren't allergic to Latin we'll throw in the introit and Communio as well, and sing the LM Song of Farewell to Jesu Dulcis Memoria. Otherwise, Old Hundredth.

    Generally I try to avoid offending people preparing for funerals. You can't really diss their hymn choices without dissing their spirituality, and I don't think funerals are a time to tell people they're all wrong about God. (Grief tends to do that itself.) I just insist that "it has to be a church song." So there's a lot of Eagles Wings and Amazing Grace.

    People usually don't sing, except the Psalm response. If a lot of parishioners attend we sing Mass parts that they know, and they do sing.

    Soon I want to start having our Youth Classical Schola sing funerals whenever possible. They learned the propers for All Souls'.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    At my last church, this is where I left it:

    When there was a funeral, I would be given the contact information. I would then call the representative of the family and say "I am Gavin C., the music director of St. S. Do you have any requests for the funeral that I can fulfill? Perhaps some hymn or spiritual song that was important to the deceased or your family?" I made a point to ONLY accommodate what was in our hymnal (WLP's We Celebrate), and I had a short list of a few hymns that would not be done. If Amazing Grace was asked for, I would inform them it's a matter of some debate on suitability and advise them it may be offensive to some. If they still wanted it, they got it. A few times, people asked for good music that wasn't in the hymnal, so I would offer to play it on the organ for a prelude or at communion, which usually made them happy.

    For the psalm, I gave the pastor a list of all the funeral psalms that I had good settings of (from Respond & Acclaim, Guimont, Gelineau, and even one or two from Chabanel) and he would merely tell me which of those psalms the family wants, or else it would be recited. It was also a matter of "tradition" (all of 3 months) to have the proper Communion sung by the cantor in Latin, although it COULD be followed by a hymn if there were 4 requests (which there sometimes were). The pastor chanted In Paradisum before the (sigh) "farewell song" and the (double sigh) closing hymn, which no one sang because the whole church was to leave DURING IT! Furthermore, it was "tradition" to use the Sanctus and Agnus from the Requiem Mass, and then I just put up with MoC at the memorial acclamation and Amen.

    This never got complaints. I only ever got one complaint about a funeral, and that was when we had a substitute priest who was so abusive towards the liturgy (and the deceased) that I just had NO idea what to do during the Mass and missed a lot of music. I was used to things done right.

    There's a LOT of dogmas that have to be shot down for funerals to improve. For one, there is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING AT ALL pastoral about calling someone who just had a dear relative die and demanding they plan the Sacred Liturgy. SHAME on those crypto-protestants who pimp this atrocious practice (although I understand most of us are forced into it). Another is that you have no leverage in regulating the funeral. You do. You can't say to someone "your favorite song is trash and your family member is in hell for having liked it," but on the other hand "Let there be Peace on Earth" is NOT appropriate to the liturgy. Make the case kindly, but with authority, and if they still insist tell them that the pastor has you backed on musical judgment. If the pastor doesn't have you backed, quit your job; better to flip burgers than have a priest who thinks you're a walking jukebox. Also, no one will get offended if a priest wears black at a funeral. But that's beyond our control...
  • If McDonald's had benefits, many of use would be much better off there, alas...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,083
    There's always UPS.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 990
    Ah, the "walking jukebox." As a freelance harpist, as well as a church musician, I'm familiar with the concept. Usually, people ask for a piece while I'm in the middle of playing another. In wedding planning (people around here specialize in low-budget funerals), I reserve the right to determine if the piece is "harpable and has future use to me."

    I recently played the organ at a funeral that's only recognizably Catholic aspect was there was a Mass stuck in there. The music was the usual Southern Catholic pop selections. At least I escaped Shepherd Me, O God. The homily and a lengthy eulogy by a family member assumed that the deceased was already sharing crafts projects with the heavenly host. Don't get me wrong. This was a wonderful woman in every way - wife, mother, nurse, softball booster, etc. There was not one word about her faith - or anyone else's for that matter. And the eulogy concluded with the playing of a recording of a lengthy country-western song about "riding on up there," the playing of which had been approved by the officiating priest. I could have wept because no one was going to pray for the repose of her soul. As far as they were concerned, it was a done deal. (Start saving now to purchase a chantry priest!)

    The problem isn't the families. People only choose what they've heard, so the bad music becomes self-perpetuating. The problem is the serious lack of training and/or interest on the part of the clergy. Many seminaries cover everything to do with liturgy in a one-semester course and their own liturgical life is pretty dismal. There are bright spots, of course. Holy Apostles, I believe, actually trains its seminarians in chant. And there are improvements at the North American College, etc. However, until the clergy understand the integration of music and liturgy and have properly formed taste, we're fighting an uphill battle and depending on lucking out with a good priest. Because even if education improves now, current priests have no systematic continuing education requirements and that leaves the greatest hits of the 80s untouched. They need to see the proper and beautiful celebration of the sacraments as their essential vocation - not organizing a building campaign, straightening out the squabbles of armies of lay employees and volunteers. And they need the backbone (and the education that bolsters that) to stand up to whiners who accuse them of being "unpastoral."

    End of rant.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • I have actually had the other side of the coin experience. When my paternal grandmother died, I handled all of the arrangments, including having my parochial vicar drive up to Austin for the Mass. When I talked to the music director about the music, she gave me the standard issue drek of Eagles' Wings, One Bread, One Body and Hail Mary/Gentle Woman. I put my foot down and scrapped her selections. I told her that my grandmother loved genuine sacred music. Since the funeral would be the Thursday before Holy Week, I told the music director that I wanted the Attende Domine for the entrance, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say for the offertory, We Have Been Told (one of the few Haas pieces that I can stand--compromise) and along with the In Paradisium in Latin, the Salve Regina (as the recessional) since my Grandmother had a great Marian devotion.

    I told her that my grandmother would have a dignified funeral and the music director was trying to shove the horizontal music. Bottom line is that I stared her down and she blinked. My grandma had a beautiful funeral and my PV belted out the chants. Afte the Mass, the director told me that this was one of the best funerals she and the cantor had done and she was impressed with my PV.

    I have never liked any of the OCP stuff, especially Respond and Acclaim. The responsorial pslams from GIA's Worship III are much better. In Spanish, I try to use Manuel Garcia whenever possible. He is one of the few OCP composers that doesn't try to make the psalm sound like something it shouldn't.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Well, if someone had come to me and requested a full 4 hymns for Mass, I would accommodate. My point is that most people just don't care and feel forced to come up with something.

    I actually really like Respond & Acclaim, but it's a matter of taste. As for psalms, I should mention the cantor situation: I had a rotating lineup of funeral cantors, all of whom were expected to know the Alleluia (and Lenten Gospel Acclamation) & verse, communion antiphon, and all 5 or so funeral psalms I had setting for. That way, when I was informed of a funeral, I called the cantor, asked if he/she is available, told him/her what psalm would be used, and at most would have to review some verses before the funeral. Whatever you do for funerals, I think it's best to keep it highly routine.
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    Two things to say:

    First to Kathy: "Youth Classical Schola"? Oh, I am so jealous. Pray for our little parish and our budding Schola (1 Confirmandi, me, 1.5 cantors).

    Second to all, What would the ideal be? The full requiem (Graduale 669)?
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    I know this is moribund, but one of my deepest, most secret desires is that our schola, one day far away, will be able to sing at my funeral. I am afraid I'll need the most solemn and strongest prayers at that time!
  • Up here in the Providence Diocese (and nearby Fall River Diocese), one of the big problems is the undertaker who hands the family a "planning worksheet". Very common in these parts.

    At the bottom of the worksheet, you see in big letters: "SACRED MUSIC (Choose up to five)". I have actually seen these worksheets fall on the floor at at least three of the churches I served. Underneath is a listing of six to ten titles with blank lines to insert check marks. In most cases the titles are:

    _Be Not Afraid
    _On Eagle's Wings
    _How Great Thou Art
    _Ave Maria (composer almost never specified, and I DON'T default to Schubert, nor do I go out of my way to ask!)
    _Prayer of St. Francis
    _Gentle Woman (cough/choke/barf - because Ant Jane was such a "gentle woman"! I would actually hear that line as a reason for this awful piece!)
    _Amazing Grace
    _Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (which I don't mind as a hymn in itself, but for a funeral???)
    _Let There Be Peace on Earth
    _City of God (another run to the porcelain!)

    No line allowing for "other".

    Two things I almost NEVER budge on:
    1. The Responsorial Psalm has to be one of those actually appointed for Mass of the Dead, and the translation must be an approved translation by the Church. This means I would quickly deny "All I Ask of You", "Shepherd Me, O God", "Beagle's Things", and "Prayer of St. Francis" for this slot, and suggest another slot (like a second Communion piece)
    2. I insist that the recessional is the "In Paradisum" or a translation thereof. That means one would have to find another home for "How Great Thou Art" or "Amazing Grace".

  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    Hmm. I am only 28 and in good health, but now I've got a hankering to make a preliminary list of music for my funeral. I'm the only Catholic in my family, and the only one with an appreciation of sacred music. My wife and I already have our wills together, now I'll just slip my funeral plans in the same envelope.
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    I totally want the Durufle Requiem at my funeral, Dan, I'm worse, I'm 25 and in....well ok health I guess you could say.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    What would the ideal be?

    For me, the ideal would be what I had listed above, except with the Adoremus Hymnal or anything else without the dreaded Top 10. I would have liked to get the Introit sung as well, and maybe the Kyrie (although it's far too unfamiliar to use congregationally). If I had the technical ability, I'd like to add the Offertory chant before the hymn. My old church always used incense at funerals, which made the offertory a good 12 minutes. If we're talking head-in-the-sky ideals, same thing, but with the congregation joining on the introit, perhaps from BFW. Not practical, but that's what an ideal is...

    I really do think there's a place for requests at funerals. Music, besides the act of praise, can be comforting. It's something that stays with us. Why deny comfort to the grieving? That said, it should be within reason - I will flat out refuse a request of "Let there be Peace on Earth". But something like "O God Our Help in Ages Past"? Appropriate and pastoral, I say! And let's not forget that if we refuse the (reasonable) requests of others, how can we expect others to accept our unreasonable requests (I know funerals in my family will get nasty when I have to go to the liberal parish and explain that they WILL use chant and Latin...)?

    And, following the meme, I'm 23 and have the outline of my funeral relatively planned. I know at least that I want the hymn "Jesus Lives, Thy Terrors Now" from Hymnal 1940, Proulx's arrangement of "O God Beyond All Praising", bits of Faure's Requiem, Langlais's "Mors et Resurrectio" for a procession, and a grand French toccata for the procession out.
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    Wow, I'm not the only one thinking of my funeral's music!

    BTW, I'm 26.

    Like Dan, my funeral plans will be slipped in with the will.
  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    Ok, I'll get crackin' on my own funeral liturgy! Being a lowly choirmember, I don't get to plan any others. Maybe I'll wait to tell my wife...

    BTW, what's with all us whipper-snappers here? Aren't we supposed to be hip to "young adult" praise and worship stuff instead of pre-Vatican II latin stuff? :)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Young? I'm 23, an old fart! Of course being in an undergrad program will make one feel that way...

    And I've never been "cool", so there's no danger of me being into P&W. Actually, I think that's the best complaint against it. I've been to protestant colleges, and that IS the stuff the "cool kids" are into. And those who aren't into it... aren't "cool". Should the Church really be like some sort of middle school popularity contest? I think not.
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    Hope for the future abounds!
  • Here are my funeral requirements, as I had posted them on Christus Vincit - the BLOG! on 28 Feb 2006:

    Now, don't get the wrong idea here, folks. I'm not seeking nor anticipating an early death (I'm only 41). I've even quit smoking to prove it. I am, however, getting my music lined up now, so that when the time does come, my wife or one of my kids will deliver the instructions.
    BMP's note: now 44 and, according to a good friend and mentor of mine, "still a punk!"

    Anyways, I want the rubrics followed - Chant, Latin, Pride of Place, all that good stuff. (If I had my way, I'd ask for the 1962 Missal to be employed here)
    BMP's note: Since the day I wrote this, Summorum Pontificum was instituted. I might just go for it. If that be the case, disregard the list below and stick to the Liber Usualis. Below is the Ordinary Form list anyways...

    Introit: Requiem aeternam (page 688 in the Gregorian Missal)
    Responsorial Psalm: The Lord is Kind and Merciful (Alexander Peloquin - from his "Songs of Israel, Volume 2"; if that is unavailable, then Psalm Tone 8G is the acceptable alternative)
    Alleluia: Mode VI (or during Lent: Praise and honor to you, O Lord Jesus Christ - as in Worship III, #290 - note: this is an adaptation from Kyrie XI)
    Offertory: Domine Jesu Christe (page 693 in the Gregorian Missal)
    - plus, if time permits: Ave Maria (Arcadelt OR Victoria)
    Sanctus XVIII in Latin
    Anamnesis: Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine (Jubilate Deo chants)
    Amen: single (slurred last syllable - F-FG)
    Lord's Prayer: chant setting in English or Latin
    Agnus Dei XVIII in Latin
    Communion Music: Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)
    - plus, if time permits: My Shepherd Is the Lord (Gelineau)
    Final Commendation: Subvinite Sancti Dei (page 696 in the Gregorian Missal) or Saints of God (#889 in Worship II) or I Believe that My Redeemer Lives (Peloquin/except during Lent)
    Recessional: In Paradisum (page 698 in the Gregorian Missal)

    Music NOT acceptable (unless you want to know what it is like to have me come out of my casket and haunt the holy $&!# out of you):
    On Eagle's Wings
    Be Not Afraid
    Here I Am, Lord
    You Are Mine
    How Great Thou Art
    We Remember
    Hail Mary/Gentle Woman
    Shepherd Me, O God

    LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY: None of that pop-style schlock garbage will be accepted. It does not belong at Holy Mass to begin with. If you want to listen to it, pop a CD in your deck at home or in your car. In fact, if it's in Glory and Praise, Spirit and Song, or Gather, do not use it! If it's written by Marty Haugen, David Haas, Michael Joncas, the St. Louis Jesuits, Carey Landry, Gregory Norbet, or the like, do not use it! If that is all your organist knows, get someone more competent! Also, only the organ is to be used. No piano. No guitar. Organ only. No eulogies (my boss doesn't allow them anyways). Save those for the wake, or in casual chat amongst friends and family. "What a jerk he was! He inflicted chant upon us! He wouldn't let us sing Eagle's Wings, or Beagle's Things, or whatever!"

  • francis
    Posts: 10,476
    For my funeral I was thinking I might save money on a coffin and get burried in an old upright.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,476
    Does anyone happen to have a Spanish translation of In Paradisum/ Chorus angelorum?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    I made a decision some years ago, that I don't do funerals or weddings. I don't need either the money or the hassle, so they are contracted out to people who want to do them. I actually did a funeral three years ago, for the husband of a former faculty member of the school where I teach. I didn't charge, but no one even said, "thank you." It reinforced what I have often heard, that no good deed goes unpunished, or gets rewarded.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,439
    Nota Bene:

    I used to work in estate planning...

    Do not include your funeral plans in your will. A will isn't usually read until weeks or months after your death.
    (See an article I wrote about what a will actually does here:
    It's also a bad place to name guardians for your children...)

    Draw up your plans. Make dozens of copies. Give them to your spouse, your children, your parents, your priest, your music director, your best friend, your insurance agent, your local funeral home, and keep a copy (in a ziplock bag) in your freezer.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 864
    Kathy, I *really* hope you're asking for the purposes of making programs.

    This appears to have it (bottom of page).
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Where I worked until yesterday, I always had a printed program listing Order of Mass and Hymns, Mass parts all with number in Ritualsong. Unless I used a R&A Psalm.In that case the response was printed in the program.
    If they wsnted 'Precious Mem'ries', it was played before the service.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    "Precious Memories?" I haven't heard that one in years. The last time I saw it was in a shape-note hymnal.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,476
    Thanks, Chrism. (I'm asking for the purpose of singing in Spanish.)
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I have had a request for PM more than once, CharlesW. HAHA
    But, you know, I rather like those old shape note hymns- they have an authenticity that so much 'contemporary ' c$#%' just does not have. And when you hear it sung on the Old Time Gospel Hour, it touches my heart, when it's done well
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    I remember, as a child, visiting some rural churches in the area. My aunt had to explain what the choirs were doing before the service, when they were using solfege to learn hymn melodies. They called it, "singing the notes."
  • Saint Edward Parish, Newark, CA
    Requiem Mass, N.O.
    Introit: Requiem eternam
    Psalm setting in English to Gregorian tones arranged by Fr. Jeff Keyes
    Alleluia (usually from Graduale Simplex) with "Requiem aeternam" verse
    Offertory: Instrumental or vocal- often the Faure "Pie Jesu"
    Ordinary: Mass XVIII or Proulx's "Community Mass"
    Communio: "Lux aeterna" with Psalm 129/130 (From Richard Rice), followed possibly by a request.
    Incensation: "Subvenite" or occasionally "Credo"
    Retiring Procession: "In paradisum" occasionally followed by a request, especially for service personnel of "Eternal
    Father, Strong to Save" or "Almighty Father"- the all-services version.
    A simple leaflet with the Introit antiphon and translation, psalm, alleluia, sanctus, agnus dei & communio w/trans
    is handed out as people enter.
    Our Children are able to sing the Requiem. The response was incredible when they sang the Requiem for a policeman
    and had officers from all over the Bay Area in attendance. A good opportunity for evangelization.