Peter Clark Posted September 10, 2007 Share Posted September 10, 2007 I have had a bit to say about wedding music in the past, and now, prompted by an article in this week's Tablet, as well as my increasing sense of frustration, I turn my attention, and yours, to funeral music. Just who was it that decided that the majority of coffins shall be brought into vchurch to one of three hymns: I Watch the Sunrise which seems to me to be lacking in everything but the most mawkish of sentiments and hardly constitues a Christian hymn at all; The Old Rugged Cross; and Oh Lord my God, both with their outmoded expiation theology? I certainly can't imagine any organist jumping up and down at the thought of playing any of these three regularly, nor do I believe that many clergy would sanction these above some of the other hymns clearly more suitable, eg The Day Thou Gavest, even Abide with Me. Is it anything to do with the fact that many funeral directors produce the service sheets and have a certain selection of hymns on disc ready to print off? Are people other than the organist/clergy giving musical advice? As an organist, other than when I was personally involved with the deceased's family this has happened 4 times in my 17 years at this church), I have never been consulted as to the choice of music. Given that there is usually a week or so between death and the funeral, this should be sufficient time for me to excercise this geneally neglected pastoral aspect of my work in the church. After all, I select the music for the weekly sung Mass (hymns, setings, motet, voluntary), having been judged sufficiently competent and liturgically sensitive to do so, as well as act as a consultant to the majority of wedding couples. I cannot believe that it was the dying wish of those we bury that these hymns (oh, and don't forget Light up the Fire!) were the ones they chose to be seen off into the blue yonder; nor can I believe that they are in the majority of cases the wish of the family, partly because about 70% of those we hold funerals for are not, as it were, "gospel greedy" nor the families. This is not a judgement on them; there is one whose authority to do so exceeds my own infinitely. It is merely to remark on the facts. Have you any toughts on this? Am I being harsh/censorious/snooty? Or is it too much to hope that it might be recognised that the organist, with her or his experience and training, might know just what works in church on what occasion? Peter Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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