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D Quentin Bellamy
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I just "lost" a fairly high profile funeral to a neighbouring parish.

 

The reason for this is because even before I had met or spoken to the family the FD was having to deal with a stream of demands from them as to how the Service would be. The family do not live in my parish, but earlier in the year there was a family christening here to which goodly chunk of the family arrived about 20 minutes late (with no apology). Apart from that, no other links with the church.

 

The issue in question was that the family wanted CDs playing during the service. The policy here is that if it is really vital I will allow a CD to be played "on the way out" of church (and even then I don't really like it), but I absolutely insist on the family coming into the church to the sound of the organ. Since I endeavour to ensure that we have a first class organist available, it seems somewhat ridiculous for that person to be sitting there whilst CDs are playing. The CD in question was of a song called Diana.... can't think why, because that is not the name of the deceased or spouse. :unsure: Anyway the FD (who is extremely supportive and conscientious) did his best to explain that the Vicar will allow a CD to leave but not to come into church. Apparently the discussion became quite heated with the FD standing his ground for the church, and with threats made by the family to "go to another church". Since I already have five funerals this week, it isn't exactly quiet around here. The FD called me up to tell me of their threat to go elsewhere, and I did the unthinkable, and told him to tell them that it is their choice. Consequently, the family have decided not to come to us. It's their funeral. Like most clergy I guess that I don't like people coming and telling me what to do in church.

 

Brethren, is drawing the line in this manner the right thing to do? Or am I just being an old meanie?? :mellow:

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I just "lost" a fairly high profile funeral to a neighbouring parish.

 

The reason for this is because even before I had met or spoken to the family the FD was having to deal with a stream of demands from them as to how the Service would be. The family do not live in my parish, but earlier in the year there was a family christening here to which goodly chunk of the family arrived about 20 minutes late (with no apology). Apart from that, no other links with the church.

 

The issue in question was that the family wanted CDs playing during the service. The policy here is that if it is really vital I will allow a CD to be played "on the way out" of church (and even then I don't really like it), but I absolutely insist on the family coming into the church to the sound of the organ. Since I endeavour to ensure that we have a first class organist available, it seems somewhat ridiculous for that person to be sitting there whilst CDs are playing. The CD in question was of a song called Diana.... can't think why, because that is not the name of the deceased or spouse. :unsure: Anyway the FD (who is extremely supportive and conscientious) did his best to explain that the Vicar will allow a CD to leave but not to come into church. Apparently the discussion became quite heated with the FD standing his ground for the church, and with threats made by the family to "go to another church". Since I already have five funerals this week, it isn't exactly quiet around here. The FD called me up to tell me of their threat to go elsewhere, and I did the unthinkable, and told him to tell them that it is their choice. Consequently, the family have decided not to come to us. It's their funeral. Like most clergy I guess that I don't like people coming and telling me what to do in church.

 

Brethren, is drawing the line in this manner the right thing to do? Or am I just being an old meanie?? :mellow:

 

No Quentin you are not. The worst thing that happened here is that someone donated a CD player to the church for it to be used during services even if an organist is available. Consequently we get all sorts of ridiculous music being played on the CD player and funerals (and sometimes weddings) - football anthems film themes, lots of sad Irish songs about peoples' dead mothers, songs by Queen (a fine band but not too suitable in church) and so on. Though not of the clerical state, I have an organist's natural disinclination to being ordered around.

 

The fee can sometimes soften the blow, though, :P

 

Peter

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I just "lost" a fairly high profile funeral to a neighbouring parish.

 

The reason for this is because even before I had met or spoken to the family the FD was having to deal with a stream of demands from them as to how the Service would be. The family do not live in my parish, but earlier in the year there was a family christening here to which goodly chunk of the family arrived about 20 minutes late (with no apology). Apart from that, no other links with the church.

 

The issue in question was that the family wanted CDs playing during the service. The policy here is that if it is really vital I will allow a CD to be played "on the way out" of church (and even then I don't really like it), but I absolutely insist on the family coming into the church to the sound of the organ. Since I endeavour to ensure that we have a first class organist available, it seems somewhat ridiculous for that person to be sitting there whilst CDs are playing. The CD in question was of a song called Diana.... can't think why, because that is not the name of the deceased or spouse. :unsure: Anyway the FD (who is extremely supportive and conscientious) did his best to explain that the Vicar will allow a CD to leave but not to come into church. Apparently the discussion became quite heated with the FD standing his ground for the church, and with threats made by the family to "go to another church". Since I already have five funerals this week, it isn't exactly quiet around here. The FD called me up to tell me of their threat to go elsewhere, and I did the unthinkable, and told him to tell them that it is their choice. Consequently, the family have decided not to come to us. It's their funeral. Like most clergy I guess that I don't like people coming and telling me what to do in church.

 

Brethren, is drawing the line in this manner the right thing to do? Or am I just being an old meanie?? :mellow:

 

Dear Revd.Quentin,

I'm afraid what you have come up against is the

'It's our service and we'll have what we damn well want' school of non-believing demand-worshipper!

I have come across this before - it's a modern mind set which says (in every situation)

'Nobody is going to dictate anything to us!'

 

I'm sure that this is a recent development, certainly in church circles, but it's a very unwelcome one.

It is an attitude that is not just rude but dictatorial and antagonistic to anything from outside.

 

Where I have come up across such attitudes I have got as far away as possible as soon as possible!

I feel sorry for you, you have taken a firm but reasoned stance and experienced outright resistance.

Folks with such an attitude of mid must be intolerable as work or life companions, you should be grateful that you don't have to see them on a daily basis.

 

 

Have a happier Christmas!

P.

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I just "lost" a fairly high profile funeral to a neighbouring parish.

 

The reason for this is because even before I had met or spoken to the family the FD was having to deal with a stream of demands from them as to how the Service would be. The family do not live in my parish, but earlier in the year there was a family christening here to which goodly chunk of the family arrived about 20 minutes late (with no apology). Apart from that, no other links with the church.

 

The issue in question was that the family wanted CDs playing during the service. The policy here is that if it is really vital I will allow a CD to be played "on the way out" of church (and even then I don't really like it), but I absolutely insist on the family coming into the church to the sound of the organ. Since I endeavour to ensure that we have a first class organist available, it seems somewhat ridiculous for that person to be sitting there whilst CDs are playing. The CD in question was of a song called Diana.... can't think why, because that is not the name of the deceased or spouse. :unsure: Anyway the FD (who is extremely supportive and conscientious) did his best to explain that the Vicar will allow a CD to leave but not to come into church. Apparently the discussion became quite heated with the FD standing his ground for the church, and with threats made by the family to "go to another church". Since I already have five funerals this week, it isn't exactly quiet around here. The FD called me up to tell me of their threat to go elsewhere, and I did the unthinkable, and told him to tell them that it is their choice. Consequently, the family have decided not to come to us. It's their funeral. Like most clergy I guess that I don't like people coming and telling me what to do in church.

 

Brethren, is drawing the line in this manner the right thing to do? Or am I just being an old meanie?? :mellow:

Sorry Quentin, I'm not entirely sympathetic with your view. At the funeral of the lady with whom I shared a home for over thirty years, I wanted a CD (of me playing the Meditation from Widor's 1st.) as a tribute to her during the service. The organist played us in and out with some complementary pieces. I would have been distraught if I couldn't have arranged the music in the way I wanted for this, one of the unhappiest days in my life. You might not like what they had chosen - you might not like what I chose - but surely kindness and tolerance is called for on such occasions.

JC

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Sorry Quentin, I'm not entirely sympathetic with your view. At the funeral of the lady with whom I shared a home for over thirty years, I wanted a CD (of me playing the Meditation from Widor's 1st.) as a tribute to her during the service. The organist played us in and out with some complementary pieces. I would have been distraught if I couldn't have arranged the music in the way I wanted for this, one of the unhappiest days in my life. You might not like what they had chosen - you might not like what I chose - but surely kindness and tolerance is called for on such occasions.

JC

Ermm yes... But your CD was the Meditation from Widor 1 - Was that to come into, to sit down and listen to, or to leave the church?

 

These people were not told that they could not have a CD played (regardless of what music it was); they were just told that when they came in it would be to organ music. So far as I am aware we are not particularly known for unkindness and intolerance on such occasions.

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Dear Revd.Quentin,

I'm afraid what you have come up against is the

'It's our service and we'll have what we damn well want' school of non-believing demand-worshipper!

I have come across this before - it's a modern mind set which says (in every situation)

'Nobody is going to dictate anything to us!'

 

I'm sure that this is a recent development, certainly in church circles, but it's a very unwelcome one.

It is an attitude that is not just rude but dictatorial and antagonistic to anything from outside.

 

Where I have come up across such attitudes I have got as far away as possible as soon as possible!

I feel sorry for you, you have taken a firm but reasoned stance and experienced outright resistance.

Folks with such an attitude of mid must be intolerable as work or life companions, you should be grateful that you don't have to see them on a daily basis.

Have a happier Christmas!

P.

Paul,

I refer the honourable member to the reply I gave earlier. In this correspondence I think it is you who is being dictatorial and antagonistic!

JC

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Guest Patrick Coleman

I think a major part of the problem here is that negotiations seem to have been conducted through the undertaker. I find that families are invariably more reasonable face to face when invited to construct the service together with the priest. The local undertakers are all trained to tell the familiy to wait until they see me before finalising details of the service.

 

I allow CDs at whichever point in the service we agree. John is quite right - a funeral service is not the place to insist on conformity with rules, let alone with what I or the organist consider appropriate. But as I have already said, if a suggested piece of 'music' does not fit or says things that just aren't right in church or for the occasion (I recently had to talk a family out of playing Bat out of Hell -and it's the lyrics not the title that are most offensive!) then a collaboration over building up the service does seem to overcome potential points of conflict.

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Paul,

I refer the honourable member to the reply I gave earlier. In this correspondence I think it is you who is being dictatorial and antagonistic!

JC

 

I disagree. A religious service has as much claim to be professionally conducted as any other part of life. Certainly the "clients" should be allowed to voice their wishes, but how these are to be carried out should be left to the professionals - clergy and musicians.

 

Or do we regard religious services as so profoundly unimportant that anything goes?

 

B

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I disagree. A religious service has as much claim to be professionally conducted as any other part of life. Certainly the "clients" should be allowed to voice their wishes, but how these are to be carried out should be left to the professionals - clergy and musicians.

 

Or do we regard religious services as so profoundly unimportant that anything goes?

 

B

 

 

========================

 

 

I seem to recall that we had this discussion before, when someone on the board questioned the fact that Sir Elton John sang at the funeral of Princess Diana. I think, at the time, I pointed out that Sir Elton John and the good lady had not only been friends, they had done enormous work across the world for AIDS treatment and awareness, and contributed a VAST amount of money to the cause.

 

It's much the same thing really, for what we are talking about is whether certain people "know better" or "know what is appropriate" for a funeral.

 

However, if anyone objected to the strains of "Jesus to a child" by George Michael at MY funeral, I shall come back to haunt them, because the reason is utterly personal and extremely intense....perhaps as intense as the feelings which inspired the song in the first place.

 

It begs the question as to who might be presumptious enough to know what was appropriate for George Michael's funeral, but I can guarantee that it wouldn't be a Bach chorale prelude!

 

Pop music can sometimes reach the parts that others fail to reach, and when I think of "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, and "Fr MacKenzie, writing a sermon which no-one will hear," I can well understand why.

 

People have every right to choose music which means something to them as far as I'm concerned.

 

We do not live in a religious age, and Christianity has failed to adapt to that fact. Denying people the opportunity to express what they care about is bad enough, but it is much worse when they are driven out of church, and find an alternative.

 

The alternative could very easily be a pagan funeral or a black plastic bag in the back of a Volvo Estate.

 

MM

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Paul,

I refer the honourable member to the reply I gave earlier. In this correspondence I think it is you who is being dictatorial and antagonistic!

JC

 

 

Dear John,

you have quoted here from a posting I put up before yours. You only have to scroll up and check the order!

I don't see how I could be ignoring your comments if they weren't already there.

 

 

I am sorry that you yourself had an unpleasant experience, of course. As Patrick has suggested, face to face discussions with the church officials could save so much misunderstanding.

 

P.

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========================

SNIP!!!!

 

Pop music can sometimes reach the parts that others fail to reach, and when I think of "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, and "Fr MacKenzie, writing a sermon which no-one will hear," I can well understand why.

 

People have every right to choose music which means something to them as far as I'm concerned.

 

We do not live in a religious age, and Christianity has failed to adapt to that fact. Denying people the opportunity to express what they care about is bad enough, but it is much worse when they are driven out of church, and find an alternative.

 

The alternative could very easily be a pagan funeral or a black plastic bag in the back of a Volvo Estate.

 

MM

 

Fascinating.... :unsure:

 

In our case the issue wasn't so much "what" as "when".... I know next to nothing about pop music of any kind so could not say what is suitable or not. I was inclined to think that this topic is closely linked to the one about treating organists as second class citizens.

 

However, it is very interesting to see the diverse opinions on this subject. I guess Patrick and I will have similar experiences insofar as conducting funerals and visiting with families etc. is concerned, and if this is so, he will probably have met, on many occasions, the people who admit to having no religion. I have one service "on the go" at the moment where I went to see the family and they want a totally secular occasion (ie Vicar as MC) - to the extent that I asked if they would like to have a short prayer at the end!!! Lovely people, don't get me wrong. They want three CD tracks playing but no hymn or reading from the Bible. (This is at the local crematorium not the Church). They freely admitted that he didn't sing hymns in life so why should he in death, and I guess if religion played no part in life then why should it be there at the funeral. Some (including that family) would describe such an occasion as hypocritical. Perhaps in the future we will see a growing number of people finding other venues for their funerals as they have done with weddings and I guess, naming ceremonies. If that is being more truthful it seems good to me.

 

I often hear that Christianity is "failing to adapt to the modern world". I don't know why it should. Countless people in this post-Christian era (at least in our land) seem to view the parish and other churches as a "suitable meeting place" and little more. The concept of "what goes" within the building is alien. I would dare say, in the light of what a lot of people say on these lists about the the church when it endeavours to adapt to a contemporary style (and it's often organists versus clergy), that there are a great many people who want the church to move with the times only in so far as it suits them. :mellow:

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Dear John,

you have quoted here from a posting I put up before yours. You only have to scroll up and check the order!

I don't see how I could be ignoring your comments if they weren't already there.

I am sorry that you yourself had an unpleasant experience, of course. As Patrick has suggested, face to face discussions with the church officials could save so much misunderstanding.

 

P.

Paul, I was fully aware of the order of posting and I didn't say you were ignoring my comments. I just pointed out that your large bold comments appeared just as antagonistic as those attitudes you were criticising. In particular, in your reference to "non-believing demand-worshippers" your words appear to be rooted in anger rather than reason. A funeral service for the one you loved the most is your service - not something you can just hand over to someone else and I am eternally grateful to have a Minister who spent hours working with me to make the day as bearable as it could be.

JC

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Paul, I was fully aware of the order of posting and I didn't say you were ignoring my comments. I just pointed out that your large bold comments appeared just as antagonistic as those attitudes you were criticising. In particular, in your reference to "non-believing demand-worshippers" your words appear to be rooted in anger rather than reason. A funeral service for the one you loved the most is your service - not something you can just hand over to someone else and I am eternally grateful to have a Minister who spent hours working with me to make the day as bearable as it could be.

JC

I'm sorry folks, Paul caught me at a low ebb and I may have over-reacted. We have since kissed and made up - well not quite like that, but you know what I mean. :mellow:

JC

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I think a major part of the problem here is that negotiations seem to have been conducted through the undertaker. I find that families are invariably more reasonable face to face when invited to construct the service together with the priest. The local undertakers are all trained to tell the familiy to wait until they see me before finalising details of the service.

 

I allow CDs at whichever point in the service we agree. John is quite right - a funeral service is not the place to insist on conformity with rules, let alone with what I or the organist consider appropriate. But as I have already said, if a suggested piece of 'music' does not fit or says things that just aren't right in church or for the occasion (I recently had to talk a family out of playing Bat out of Hell -and it's the lyrics not the title that are most offensive!) then a collaboration over building up the service does seem to overcome potential points of conflict.

 

This is entirely sensible.

 

There are 2 issues as I see it. The first is about actually having CDs played at these services. The second is about the family of the deceased seeming to want almost carte blanche in the structure and content of the service.

 

Considering the first point, I have come to accept that a CD of the deceased's favourite song will probably move the mourners in a more effective way than something that I may play on the organ, much as I dislike having CDs played at funerals.

 

As for the second, I think the family's wishes should be taken into consideration at a time like this - after all, as John pointed out, the service is for them. But, of course, the minister should have the final say and should stop anything unsuitable or over-the-top. Unfortunately, they're often too unwilling to risk upsetting the family to do this.

 

I think that allowing a request for a suitable CD on the way out, but insisting on organ music on the way in, is a reasonable compromise. After all, at least the organist will be able to get home sooner! :mellow:

 

On a similar topic, I've noticed an increased trend for people to get up and speak (often - irritatingly - at great length) at funerals which I don't remember happening 10 years ago. People now seem to think it's the "done thing". I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and we think that it happened in the wake (no pun intended!) of Princess Diana's funeral. What do others think?

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Fascinating.... :unsure:

 

In our case the issue wasn't so much "what" as "when".... I know next to nothing about pop music of any kind so could not say what is suitable or not. I was inclined to think that this topic is closely linked to the one about treating organists as second class citizens.

 

However, it is very interesting to see the diverse opinions on this subject. I guess Patrick and I will have similar experiences insofar as conducting funerals and visiting with families etc. is concerned, and if this is so, he will probably have met, on many occasions, the people who admit to having no religion. I have one service "on the go" at the moment where I went to see the family and they want a totally secular occasion (ie Vicar as MC) - to the extent that I asked if they would like to have a short prayer at the end!!! Lovely people, don't get me wrong. They want three CD tracks playing but no hymn or reading from the Bible. (This is at the local crematorium not the Church). They freely admitted that he didn't sing hymns in life so why should he in death, and I guess if religion played no part in life then why should it be there at the funeral. Some (including that family) would describe such an occasion as hypocritical. Perhaps in the future we will see a growing number of people finding other venues for their funerals as they have done with weddings and I guess, naming ceremonies. If that is being more truthful it seems good to me.

 

I often hear that Christianity is "failing to adapt to the modern world". I don't know why it should. Countless people in this post-Christian era (at least in our land) seem to view the parish and other churches as a "suitable meeting place" and little more. The concept of "what goes" within the building is alien. I would dare say, in the light of what a lot of people say on these lists about the the church when it endeavours to adapt to a contemporary style (and it's often organists versus clergy), that there are a great many people who want the church to move with the times only in so far as it suits them. :mellow:

 

 

======================

 

 

I would not be in the least surprised to find people with no religion: even less would I be offended by it. Indeed, people of ANY faith are the exception rather than the rule, and even the Satanists are probably feeling the pinch.

 

You can blame Newtonian logic, and side with William Blake as you will, but it will not alter the fact that "faith" in the practical certainties of what we can see and perceive around us, will always be more powerful than belief in more spiritual concepts. So the theological undertaking is paramount at any time, and especially in an age which has swept so much misbelief away, and consigned it to the dustbin of false knowledge and pseudo-science.

 

To my mind, the greatest con-trick of all is to present tradition in such a way that it seeks to delude people into thinking of it as "relevant" and "contemporary." Is it not just a triumph of style over content?

 

I would suggest that it isn't Christianity which has failed to adapt to the modern world: only religion. So whilst many would build shrines, bow down before images and sell indulgences, there are still some people who wash feet, feed the poor and embrace others with their love; even those who remain serial sinners.

 

There is a different kind of faith, such as Mary and Mary Magdalene keeping vigil at the foot of the cross; and not because they were making a political statement. It is, in a word, love. It knows no boundaries, it is not exclusive and it is not selfish. Because of what it is, it transcends everything, including time and space: the one unchanging aspect of true belief, and one which doesn't feel obliged to change with the times. I would suggest that just about everything else in religion is negotiable.

 

60 or more years on, and we still struggle to understand what Boenhoffer and Tillich were talking about!

 

Christianity it seems, can exist perfectly well without religion.

 

Where did you find my crash-helmet, by the way?

 

MM

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
On a similar topic, I've noticed an increased trend for people to get up and speak (often - irritatingly - at great length) at funerals which I don't remember happening 10 years ago. People now seem to think it's the "done thing". I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and we think that it happened in the wake (no pun intended!) of Princess Diana's funeral. What do others think?

 

This is a difficult moment and can easily become far too full of the emotional. Alas, so few people do not go to church nor understand the theological reasons for the funeral service except that it is the 'done thing'. Because they don't go to church they see this service as an opportunity to make up for their lack of attendance - frequently with dire saccharine consequences. (Also note how people write to their relatives in the local papers as if it gets delivered 'up there').

To combat this often mock religiosity, I always suggested to familes that they write down their eulogy whilst I play some appropriate music as they read the paragraphs. Often, you will find that they revise it all quite beautifully once they get the first draft out of their system. They (the congregation) also have the opportunity of keeping it and treasuring it afterwards should they so wish.

The other good point, is that you play to a silent and appreciative congregation (one sincerely hopes), and for once they hear the organ played in a proper situation within the Liturgy. If they require CD's (and they know the appropriate consequences of royalities etc if they apply - Barry, are you there?), then - why not let them indulge in sentimentality that is apposite to their particular grieving and celebration of a life. On the latter note, I always told families (unless impossibly tragic circumstances prevailed) that Easter, the Resurrection and joy & hope for those left behind were the foundations of our service.

All the best,

Nigel

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Guest Barry Williams
This is a difficult moment and can easily become far too full of the emotional. Alas, so few people do not go to church nor understand the theological reasons for the funeral service except that it is the 'done thing'. Because they don't go to church they see this service as an opportunity to make up for their lack of attendance - frequently with dire saccharine consequences. (Also note how people write to their relatives in the local papers as if it gets delivered 'up there').

To combat this often mock religiosity, I always suggested to familes that they write down their eulogy whilst I play some appropriate music as they read the paragraphs. Often, you will find that they revise it all quite beautifully once they get the first draft out of their system. They also have the opportunity of keeping it and treasuring it afterwards should they so wish.

The other good point, is that you play to a silent and appreciative congregation (one sincerely hopes), and for once they hear the organ played in a proper situation within the Liturgy. If they require CD's (and they know the appropriate consequences of royalities etc), then - why not let them indulge in sentimentality that is apposite to their particular grieving and celebration of a life. On the latter note, I always told families (unless impossibly tragic circumstances prevailed) that Easter, the Resurrection and joy & hope for those left behind were the foundations of our service.

All the best,

Nigel

 

This is a wonderfully helpful and imaginative response. Thank you.

 

May I just mention that there are usually no royalties consequential on playing CDs in acts of divine worship?

 

Barry Williams

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I've noticed an increased trend for people to get up and speak (often - irritatingly - at great length) at funerals which I don't remember happening 10 years ago. People now seem to think it's the "done thing". I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and we think that it happened in the wake (no pun intended!) of Princess Diana's funeral. What do others think?

Personally I would much rather listen to an appreciation by a relative or friend of the deceased than to a priest struggling to find kind and appreciative words to say about a non-church-goer they plainly never knew. To the mourners the latter must surely seem at best rather contrived, if not downright false. However, heaven defend us from eulogies on the scale of Beethoven's ninth; Nigel's suggestion is excellent.

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Personally I would much rather listen to an appreciation by a relative or friend of the deceased than to a priest struggling to find kind and appreciative words to say about a non-church-goer they plainly never knew. To the mourners the latter must surely seem at best rather contrived, if not downright false. However, heaven defend us from eulogies on the scale of Beethoven's ninth; Nigel's suggestion is excellent.

I see where you're coming from, but a priest can often do more by not only giving an overview of the deceased's life but also by explaining about the death and resurrection of JC and by putting it all into a Christian context.

 

I can think of two awful eulogies I've suffered recently which were given by relatives. Both were in excess of 30 minutes (!), and one of them kept saying something along the lines of "I'm sure I've gone on too long. The vicar'll stop me soon". Both said more about themselves than about the deceased. It was awful.

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On a similar topic, I've noticed an increased trend for people to get up and speak (often - irritatingly - at great length) at funerals which I don't remember happening 10 years ago.

The last funeral I was at, the talk was read out - having been written by the deceased in preparation...

 

Paul

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