Good Funeral Preludes and Postludes
  • Hi Everyone,

    I constantly am playing funerals during the week and I'm looking for new funeral preludes and postludes. I have a couple of organ books that I go back and forth between but they are starting to become stale and repetitive. I'm looking for pieces/collections of easy to easy/medium level. Nothing over challenging but something that can be sight read or with a couple of run thru practices and it's already under your fingers.

    Any books or collections, please let me know!!

  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    First, you do realize that the Church forbids the use of preludes/postludes at funerals, right?

    That said, if you wish to ignore said prohibition (as I do), I enjoy the "Alle Menschen Mussen Sterben" from the 80 Chorale Preludes book, and I also use the minor-key postludes in the series by Rossini (I forget the name). Mostly, I use the Suite Gothique Priere for a prelude and the Choral for a postlude.

    Though I'd say don't worry about keeping it original. There probably won't be a lot of the same people at different funerals, and none of them pay attention to what the pre/postlude is anyway.
  • Thanks for the pieces you provided. I'm interested in knowing why there are no preludes postludes at funerals? Do you have any documentations with regards to it?? Never heard of that before!
  • Such a prohibition exists in the Extraordinary form. I'm not sure where in the OF rubrics it says that...If the prohibition exists clearly in the OF, I haven't seen it. So I wonder if the prohibition is now actually liturgical law or if it is pious custom.
    Thanked by 2E_A_Fulhorst marajoy
  • I'm not all that knowledgable with liturgical law. What is extraordinary form? And OF rubrics? Is there a link you can attach that tells me about music liturgy at Catholic funerals?
  • I would strongly recommend the St. Augustine Organbook by Gerald Near. There is a beautiful setting of both the Requiem (which I use as a prelude) and the In Paradisum (which I use as a postlude).

    The prohibition of instrumental music (except to accompany singing) comes from the Ceremonial of Bishops, actually:

    There should be no flowers on the altar, and the music of the organ or other instruments is permitted only to assist the singing. [#824]

    While I never want to encourage the flouting of the rubrics, I can say I have met literally zero organists who follow this very strictly.
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    I always read this prohibition as applying to music during the formal liturgy, not before or after it. So preludes should be fine.
  • Hi Andy!! It's Kiel! Haha. How's things going? I do own the Gerald Near book. Check out the pipe organ videos I've posted on the subject 15 year old pipe organ! Pretty cool! Check out my YouTube page too! You can find that searching kkrommer in the search!
  • "Extraordinary Form" refers to the liturgy organically developed through the 1962 Missal.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,711
    barbers adagio
  • Mark P.
    Posts: 248
    Take a look at this collection and the ones associated with it:
  • Musicam Sacram 66 says that the organ may not be played solo DURING the Office and Masses for the dead. I always thought it was forbidden, but the way it's worded, it appears to be ok.

    I always improvise on the chants and even the Dies Irae before and after the Mass. I want the Finale from Vierne I for the postlude at my funeral whether the liturgy police show up or not.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I don't play organ prelude nor postlude to be consistent with the liturgy and with the Church's tradition. Pope Benedict says if there is a doubt or confusion in interpreting the Church's instructions, interpret them in light of the our tradition. (Latin rite)
  • Partita on "Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" by Georg Böhm
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    I would prefer not to play preludes, but I do to cover the noise made by the (mostly un-churched) congregation. I only tack on a short organ piece at the end of the recessional hymn when I can tell that If we sang another verse the cantor's voice-box would explode. (Very messy, by the way...)

    I like to play (prelude) Morley's 'Nolo mortem peccatoris' from The New Church Anthem Book (love the false relations between D/D#), or Palestrina's 'O Bone Jesu'.

    I also use a short piece in c-minor from J. Rheinberger's Harmonium Schule as the 'postlude', there's also a short 'Funeral March' in a-minor fromMurray's 100 Voluntaries that I have tacked on, too. (Can't remember who the author or publisher is at the moment.)

    You would have thought that when they re-drafted the GIRM in 2010 or whatever, that they'd insert the relevant rubric from the Ceremonial of Bishops into the paragraph(s) about the use of the organ during Advent and Lent. The problem with this is that you have to go traipsing all over creation to find the answer, and then when you do, some-one in bound to say : "Oh, that only applies to bishops, that's why it's there and not in the GIRM." I find this to be a problem with the OF in general : it's too un-organized.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    I think it's best not to play preludes and postludes, especially in light of the CoB instruction. I remember a seminary musician I told that passage to was shocked! That was when I started to realize Catholic musicians don't read their "instruction manuals".

    Anyhow, I think the only justification to play is if people have a bad habit of talking way too much/too loud before or after funerals. We have this problem before weddings at my place (a visiting friend remarked that it "sounded like a food court down there"), but funerals are fine. Plus, think about it: we have so little quiet in our lives, and that is usually only if we consciously try to foster it. It's a great occasion to stop playing, get out of the way, and hope the p-i-p's hear the voice of God speaking to them in that moment—hopefully reminding them to pray for the deceased, too!
  • For those with time to keep a challenging work at the ready, Franz Schmidt's "O, wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen" (O How Happy Are Ye Now, You Blessed), dating from 1926, is an overlooked masterpiece.
  • If you are looking for particular pieces, here are some of my favorites.

    I have found the slower chorale preludes of Max Reger which include a solo stop to work well, e.g. from op. 67: "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig," (#32), and "Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende," (#48), which can be found on IMSLP.

    Bach's chorale prelude "Erbarm' dich mein, O Herre Gott (BWV 721), strikes the right funereal tone. Bach's preludes on "Liebster Jesu" BWV 730 and BWV 731, as well as other slow-paced preludes with solo stop (e.g. "Vor deinen Thron," BWV 668) are also effective.

    C. H. H. Parry's "Eventide" (on "Abide with Me") from set of Chorale Preludes (no. 12 from set 2).
  • Nisi
    Posts: 149
    I have not played preludes or postludes at funerals or All Souls Day or Sundays in Lent (except Laetare Sunday) or Sundays of Advent (except Gaudete Sunday) since 1998, when I decided to adhere to this long-standing tradition of the Church. It's very tempting to mine the wealth of organ literature for these special days and times, but we Romans should respect our rules & regs - and leave that gorgeous music to the Protestants on those days.
    Thanked by 1Lars