Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

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alan29
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by alan29 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:35 am

Peter Jones wrote:If there's going to be some sort of family remembrance before the final commendation, I pray that:

1. Whoever is going to deliver it does not attempt to preach.

2. Whoever is going to deliver it allows no elephants in the room. If the deceased was someone who in common parlance was of illegitimate birth, a wife-beating drunkard who neglected his children - for heaven's sake, say so and be honest. Don't say how much we all miss him and what a loving, caring person he was, when, in fact, everyone is relieved he's died and the family can now live in peace.


That would be refreshing.
There are certain things that my family know will have me banging on the inside of my coffin, the first is to be wheeled into church on one of those Tesco trolley things (I didn't spend a fortune raising sons for them not to be pall-bearers) the second is a slushily gilded eulogy.

BobHayes
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by BobHayes » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:11 pm

:D :D :D
Bob

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VML
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by VML » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:25 pm

I am humming and hah-ing about a funeral Mass next week for which the list says they will enter to 'Can you feel the love tonight', Elton John's Disney blockbuster about a 'wide eyed warrior', and the reading after the psalm is 'Do not stand at my grave and weep..' This seems to me totally agnostic/ humanist in tone, and not suitable, even if it were permitted. The first reading is Revelations and there is a proper psalm and Alleluia.

The hymns are usual funeral hymns, but this other stuff is distracting me, as I am the organist, and my first priority for years has been to be available for the parish funerals, and have been asked by PP by email, and I have to reply, but I am struggling to know whether to comment.

Any ideas please? PP is totally overworked and I do not want to upset him, but….

And this weeks funeral we have Swan Lake on CD to come in and go out to, as she was a ballerina…

We have a fairly broad repertoire of music in the parish and there is no reason why we could not have a Swan Lake excerpt on either organ or flute as a voluntary, and it is always cut and dried, and usually printed before I am told anything. :cry:

organgrinder
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by organgrinder » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:08 am

This issue is on the rise. I usually take the position that it's a paid job and essentially a private service so I just do what I'm told (certainly when I'm asked to play elsewhere). However there is a limit to what I will play on the organ, and CDs are usually preferred for non-church music anyway. On one occasional we had a simple piece of Beethoven on a CD that I could easily have played on the church piano, but I wasn't asked. Overall I think the PP should draw the red lines. Ours takes the view that they can have whatever they want (provided it's not blasphemous or obviously inappropriate) and it falls outside of the mass itself. Short eulogies are allowed towards the end. It is very difficult to take a hard line with families when they are grieving and when they know what is usual in other churches and of course crematoria. I once heard 'Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye' in the usually very dignified Romsey Abbey. Maybe there are bigger battles to fight?

alan29
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by alan29 » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:41 am

I agree. It isn't our fight.
That Gracie Fields is on my funeral plan for the Crem. The best place for it.

JW
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by JW » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:24 pm

Played at 3 funerals this week: 2 were Requiem Masses and the third was an Anglican church funeral. The Anglican funeral included much that was secular. There were cds of Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman' and Whitney Houston's 'I will always love you', both listed as 'meditations'. I was only there to play 'Old Rugged Cross' which few people sang. I suspect however that, pastorally, the Anglican funeral may have been more helpful and respectful to the mourners than one of the Requiem Masses where there were many non Catholics. However, the Requiem Masses would have been far more helpful to the souls of the deceased - there were no prayers for the deceased at the Anglican funeral.

Here is the dilemma. We upset a lot of people if we take a rigid view of the purpose of funerals. Most attenders nowadays are unchurched and view funerals as an opportunity to give the deceased a good send-off. If the Church is perceived as being hard hearted in the matter of funerals, how much of a barrier is that to Evangelisation? Most priests will take the opportunity during the homily of holding out the hope of Eternal Life; I think we must be careful not to create the impression that hope only applies if we're prepared to do things the Church's way.

I wonder, what good are we doing the souls of those attending if we refuse to be flexible? Also most unchurched would never dream of praying for the dead. Of course we are in a sacred space and that space needs to be respected. And a church funeral must be a religious service first and foremost. I wonder what Pope Francis would do - in another context he has criticised those who take a legalistic view of things as well as those who take an 'anything goes' viewpoint?

P.S. The 'Museum Keepers or Gardeners' thread would seem to be relevant here.

P.P.S. As others have said, it isn't the organist's battle. We're primarily paid to carry out the celebrant's bidding, though I'll make the odd comment if something I'm not happy about happens frequently - I ventured that 'Ave Maria' isn't really appropriate for Communion some years back, but the priest was quite happy with it and I didn't see any reason to refuse to play. The requests stopped after he moved on.
JW

alan29
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by alan29 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:51 pm

The funeral that I am playing at this week will feature Christmas carols.
It's not a requiem, its a funeral service. Presumably the deceased is a non-catholic relative of a catholic.

oopsorganist
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:22 am

It is a big one in my mind this day. On Monday I endured a dreaful "Humanist" funeral service for someone I loved.
A ten minute recap of a life reducing 86 years of complex humanity, joy and tears to utter trivia.
A stating of the obvious to an ensemble who already knew all of that because they were there.
A invitation to reflect or pray during a blast of Nessum Dorma.
Two horrible poems. One amateur and cringeworthy and Do not stand at my grave and weep. The line "I am not dead" jars because in a crematorium this would be most unfortunate.
Afterwards I was talking with a Sikh about funerals. He told me that the rituals in Sikh culture are around Completion. Much tending to the body and much weeping and he also told me that if you scratch a Sikh you find a Hindu underneath and that he feared he would want his ashes scattered in the Ganges. And then he said he was interested in Catholicism!

Which is to digress. I understand that some feel awkward around traditional funeral and formal Christian prayers when they have not experienced such as part of daily life. And so they imagine something else could be better. Well it wasn't. It left those who wished to pray communally very distressed and not least that as the deceased ( as stated by the Humanist minister) considered themselves a Christian, then the rites should have been a "completion" for them in cultural conclusion. It was abrupt and unhealing. The deceased had asked that no one cry at her funeral but sadly, I have never heard so many people cry and continue to cry afterwards as if the end was still present and the life not Completed. There was not a place created for those bereaved to let go of their loved one. And I am picking up the pieces both for myself and my children who loved their grandmother so much.

And if I was Humanist minister and the family told me that the deceased considered themselves a Christian I would immediately suggest they needed a Christian minister. I think a Sikh funeral would have been a lot more use than a humanist rite.

I am really very upset about this.

I distracted myself with reading the Service Book provided with the various rites general, Anglican and Catholic. Where are we going as a society where intelligent people can listen to the idea of eternal life expressed in that "Do not stand at my grave" and not cope with Christianity. Or the other way round, where Christianity cannot meet those who have not given these things a great deal of thought until someone dies.
There was this huge gulf of missing thought.
Finally, I am exasperated that the one person who sold this idea of Humanist funeral to the deceased is currently so terrified of her own health and life that she was too afraid to make the journey for the funeral. In case she dies. Got some really bad news for her! Hoping she'll enjoy being matter again, tinkling in the rain and all that. Being dust on the sideboard.

Rant over. It's better on here than Facebook - no one would come to my funeral then.
uh oh!

oopsorganist
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:09 pm

Here is an article that explores this
https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j ... 6085,d.bGQ
Well it might be - that seems a long lot of link!
uh oh!

nazard
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by nazard » Thu Jan 14, 2016 11:40 am

I sympathise, Oops. I have asked for the Tridentine rite for my funeral to hopefully remove any chance of this sort of thing.

I have a vague memory of having seen some official document about the new rite saying that any sort of eulogy is strictly forbidden. If this is right, then it must count as one of the most flouted rules of all time.

May the deceased whom you loved so much rest in peace.

alan29
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by alan29 » Thu Jan 14, 2016 1:30 pm

I think funerals can be a massive problem in a society where talk of death is off most peoples agenda, and where the overwhelming majority have no religion at all.
I have been to 15 minute crematorium do's that neither honoured the deceased nor gave the mourners space to grieve. And I have played at many requiems where the priest and I were the only people who seemed to know what was going on, simply because the deceased had an ancient tenuous link withe the church that the family wanted to drag up. But despite that, there is something about the rhythm of a funeral mass, the balance between song and silence, the use of ancient symbols that seems to give even the most unchurched a safe space to grieve.
I am unsure about eulogies, myself. I can see that people go to a funeral expecting to hear something personal about the deceased ....... but they have to be done ever so well. At ours they form the first section of the homily, with the priest pulling the focus back to thoughts of redemption etc. I suppose the other extreme is the situation where the deceased and their immediate family aren't even referred to by name - where the priest has his nose in the book and black is read and the red is done and that's it. And that from my own experience just leads to anger and tears and the feeling that people and their emotions have been disrespected.

IncenseTom
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by IncenseTom » Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:19 pm

I play for funerals where the priest often 'moulds' the homily around the deceased's life. He obviously gets to know all about the person from talking to their relatives and gathers a few things about them which he might refer to in the homily.

The family are also offered the opportunity to do a 'family act of remembrance' just before the final prayers/ sprinkling/ censing.

Now, as the priest has mentioned various things about the life of the deceased - their character, hobbies, their faith, etc - in the homily, it seems that the family act of remembrance isn't an overly-lengthy account of their life, but more a opportunity for someone from the family to say a few words, if they wish.

It seems to work.

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keitha
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by keitha » Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:50 am

I must admit that I hate toe-curling eulogies, often delivered by relatives who (i) aren't used to speaking in public and (ii) often don't make it through to the end as emotions take over. My father's requiem mass was the normal daily mass in the parish where he and my mother had worshipped until he was too old to drive there (94!). Some would have known us, but most not. We 'fixed' the eulogy issue by putting a short bio of dad in the service book, and the celebrant simply drew attention to it before starting the Penitential Act. It worked, in that those who were interested could read it, those who weren't didn't have to, and mourners could take it away as a memorial of him (which everyone in the family did - particularly as the bio contained stuff that many family members didn't know). Just an idea....
Keith Ainsworth

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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by dunstan » Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:04 pm

keitha wrote:We 'fixed' the eulogy issue by putting a short bio of dad in the service book, and the celebrant simply drew attention to it before starting the Penitential Act. It worked, in that those who were interested could read it, those who weren't didn't have to, and mourners could take it away as a memorial of him (which everyone in the family did - particularly as the bio contained stuff that many family members didn't know). Just an idea....

We did something similar for my mum's funeral last March: there was a sheet inserted in the Order of Service with mum's life story and our various memories. We reckoned that as most people arrive hopelessly early for funerals, it gives them something to read while they're waiting. We also bucked the trend by having an Order of Service without a photograph, something I've never dared for.
It's not a generation gap, it's a taste gap.

oopsorganist
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Re: Funeral Liturgies in Theory and in Practice

Post by oopsorganist » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:59 pm

Incense Tom your pp seems to have it sorted.

The Liturgy Office guidance online states that the Vigil is the place for a Eulogy if one is wanted. But I would guess that most funerals do not have the Vigil bit so awkwardness arises. Sure a little bio might be nice - but for most people at a funeral they kind of know the basic facts anyway.
Some people I have been talking to say that they have found any religious funeral too detached and impersonal. There goes something they did not "get"!
Others say how they loved such a such a humanist funeral because of it being personal but feel emptiness afterwards.

I also looked up what Quakers make of funerals and their summing up of their thing was very humane and holy.
"Friends should come to a funeral with both heart and mind prepared. We want to experience a deep sense of communion with God and with one another, which we hope will comfort and strengthen those who mourn. There are at least two aims in our worship: to give thanks to God for the life that has been lived, and to help the mourners to feel a deep sense of God’s presence." and so on. The attendance of other people not connected with the deceased to add their prayers and support is highlighted as a helpful community action. Indeed I have a Methodist friend who feels very drawn to supported the bereaved during burials.

It would seem that much discussion and thought needs to be given to the issues around both Catholic funerals and the more general issues around the needs of many lightly churched people who cannot find an option for a funeral that they understand and agree with. While humanists are offering funerals that include "prayers" then some way be thinking that is alright for their loved one. Confusion arises.
uh oh!

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