Music for funeral masses
  • I'm in the process of getting myself very aquainted with the chant music and structure of the funeral mass in the OF and the EF, and the differences between them, but what about other music? Especially as regards an OF parish, how should you accomodate hymns also being done in the liturgy so it is not completely foreign to the families? I also suggest if anyone here could help me form a list of hymns or other music that could be done besides the chant, either with it or in place of it (temporarily)? Help on this would be great, since I'll be entering a music director position where they may desire me to sing for many of the funerals. I consistent structure would be helpful to me and the priest as far as music is concerned. So: a list of appropriate hymns or other selections?
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    See: , and

    These lists are pretty good, don't know how much I can add. Perhaps, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say. There's a metrical setting of the In Paradisum in English to OLD 124th in the Adoremus Hymnal. For a vocal solo, a nice one besides the Ave Marias is the Pie Jesu from the Faure Requiem (the one from Durufle's is nice too, but might be more difficult, not sure).

    For OF

    Procession to the casket (can be acc. by hymn or music, check with your priest)
    Greeting and prayer at casket
    Procession to altar (entrance hymn)
    1st Reading
    (from here procedes as normal mass, no creed)
    Sometimes after communion, although its forbidden a eulogy (or several....grrrrr) is added.
    After communion prayer, priest prays over body incenses it (Subvenite, time for the Song of Fairwell, usually to 100th)
    Then the priest says a final prayer at which point the recessional can begin

    Please add/correct
  • Oh, Joe, say it ain't so! (Sorry, couldn't resist!)
    I must confess my grudging dislike of that appropriation of Old 100th. Period.
    I have come up with a little scheme for dismissal that seems to satisfy everyone and torque-off no one, to whit:
    Sing In Paradisum in D Mix (Major, flat 7, right?) and at the final cadence, seemlessly launch into OEW, Shall we gather, or some such family requested tune in D maj as they're processing out behind the pallbearers.
    I know this places IP after the formal dismissal, but most families as well as my priests don't really care to consult with musicians, so....
    Being full time, it's odd how the proportion of bereaved who simply name a couple of favorite hymns/songs to the funeral chapel advisor has gone up over the years. But that reality has created the opportunity for we music "providers" to program a bit more chant such as a Kyrie or Agnus Dei, or more Latin hymns inside the sandwich (Panis Angelicus, Ave Verum, Ubi Caritas etc.) I well know that results in an eclecticism which is anathema to some aesthetes of note; but I'll opt for that every time in that it keeps that heritage alive and out of the museum of musical relics. Oops, I did it again. Too many metaphors. ;-)
  • Dear Kimberly,

    For the Ordinary Form, this might be helpful: (Responsorial Psalms for Funerals)

    For the Extraordinary form, this might be helpful:
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123

    I might not be correct about this as regards the OF, but isn't In paradisum the processional chant for the way to the cemetery? If so, it's perfectly okay where you have it.
  • Has rubrics explained for the different funeral chants in the EF.
  • Yes, in the EF In paradisum is sung as the casket leaves the church. I'm not 100% sure about the OF since my church had a separate person dealing with funeral music (I left that alone since I worked another job during the day).
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    "Yes, in the EF In paradisum is sung as the casket leaves the church. I'm not 100% sure about the OF since my church had a separate person dealing with funeral music (I left that alone since I worked another job during the day)."

    My book, not official but I believe it is correct, says "after the concluding prayer one of the following songs or an appropriate hymn is sung while the body is being taken away."
    Then, in typical GIA fashion, it give the ICEL paraphrase of the In paradiusm set to a hymn tune as the first option, and the official chant as a second.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    I will point out that “On Eagle’s Wings” is mostly a paraphrase of Psalm 91, a psalm that has much stronger Lenten associations than associations to funerals.

    I try to avoid “Be Not Afraid” as well, since it quotes the Beatitudes, which are the gospel from All Saints. Alas, the OF Lectionary also gives the Beatitudes as an option for funerals, which IMO was a mistake, but they didn’t ask me. :-/

    Tietze’s “Introit Hymns for the Church Year” has a pretty good Common Meter (8686) paraphrase of the “Requiem æternam” introit. During Easter season, though, note that the OF prescribes different proper chants.
  • What I failed to mention (but implied with the "lack of consultation by the priest-celebrant" factor) was that often the celebrant will orate the dismissal collect and prayer, dismiss AND then recite the English "May the angels...." So, my "abuse" is merely a redundant sung blessing to something already uttered. Mea culpa. But, knowing that the IP is the formal recessional in the OF is precisely why I've "invented" my little practice of wedding it in Dmaj (or for that matter any other key) to a "congregational" hymn.
    BTW, do you think CMAA could surreptitiously infiltrate modern culture to get kids to start saying "mea culpa" every time they make their silly mistakes in life? "My bad" is getting really tiresome. ;-)
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    Isn't "my bad" the official ICEL translation for "mea culpa"? ;-)

    Oh yes, I had a pastor that insisted on speaking it. He said that psychologically it was more powerful than singing it. Huh? That shows just how much music may be regarded as mere liturgical decoration.
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    So in the new translation will it be, "My bad, my bad, my ginormous bad"?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    My funeral policies are as such:

    - "Jubilate Deo" Mass w/Mass of Creation (Christ has died/Amen) for the ordinary
    - Proper communion sung in Latin from Roman Gradual
    - Priest traditionally sings "In Paradisum"
    - Any requests the family has are respected so long as they are not in opposition to Catholic theology or in some other way hugely unsuitable for a funeral. That is to say, funerals are not a battleground. I suppose my limit would be "Gentle Woman", although I've been considering if that espouses a feminist theology which renders it unsuitable.
    - Mass ordinary is changeable at the advised request of the family, and the communion can be replaced if the family has an explicit desire for 4 hymns
    - Any remaining "slots" get filled with appropriate standard hymnody, "The King of Love", etc.

    Hope that helps!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I have a question maybe a bit outside the discussion going on here. But I'd like to know whether you play organ music (like prelude ---) at all at a funeral. I believe it supposed to be no organ music. But I kind of agree with my MD who feels that having just silence doen't seem to help families, and music helps to comfort them. What do you guys usually do, silence before and after the funeral as a rule?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Mia, it was my policy to play organ at funerals. The practical side of it is that newer generations simply aren't taught to keep quiet in churches, so things can be quite loud if there isn't music to "cover things up". I also hope that the music is somehow comforting to the family and helps to lend an air of reverence to the attendees. On top of that, my former boss used incense at EVERY funeral, which meant the offertory hymn wasn't nearly long enough to cover the action. On the other hand, church law is what it is. I'm not going to grudge anyone over their way of handling the issue if they will grant me the same courtesy. I say it's an issue you personally have to work out, perhaps with your priest's guidance.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Gavin, thanks for sharing it. Although I have to think about it more, your info. helps. My priest is the one who likes organ music even for Lent, so I think I know what he will say. Anyway , thanks. Mia
  • Andrew
    Posts: 22
    I can remember in the late 1950's/early 1960's -- pre-Vatican II -- there was always organ accompaniment at Requiem Masses in the parish churches.

    Pietro Yon's Requiem was popular (published by J. Fisher). Often sung in two part harmony.

    Depending on the "fee scale" one could arrange for a simple Low Mass, a High Mass or a Solemn High Mass (with deacon and subdeacon).

    There was also soft background organ improvisation as well at appropriate points.

    That was the reality of the pre-Vatican II Requiem Mass in the average parish church.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    So, you are saying that no organ music at the funeral(I meant instrumental organ music not the accompaniment) is required after Vatican II?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    For those who are interested, I added a Funeral Alleluia at the bottom of this page.