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Crematorium Organists


DHM

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This is what I meant too . . . . :blink:

The first dictionary definition for pride is 'a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.'

 

This is what I have always seen pride as, i.e. a proud man will never admit he can be wrong.

 

At no stage do I or have I ever taken pride in what I do. I do my best, I offer the highest service I can, and the most complete help and support to the bereaved, and indeed to a couple at a wedding, or any church I work for. And indeed, some of the best organists I know do not take 'pride' in what they are doing, they certainly dreive pleasure from it, for themselves and others, they provide a sense of worship and dignity for the situation, and often provide an atmosphere conducive to the situation. If we feel pride in what we are doing, we are doing it for ourselves. My whole playing career has been dne for one reason, and that is to serve God through music. I derive pleasure from it, yes; I feel humbled to be allowed to be able to do it, yes; I feel blessed that I have the skills and talents to carry it out, yes; but I can never say I have ever felt proud about it.

 

Jonathan

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The first dictionary definition for pride is 'a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.'

 

Many words have a variety of meanings or shades of meaning, and when there are different possibilities it is usually advisable to seek the most favourable interpretation of what the speaker / writer intended.

 

Quoting some of many definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary:

 

1. A high, esp. an excessively high, opinion of one's own worth or importance which gives rise to a feeling or attitude of superiority over others; inordinate self-esteem.

 

2. Arrogant, haughty, or overbearing behaviour, demeanour, or treatment of others, esp. as exhibiting an inordinately high opinion of oneself.

 

3. A consciousness of what befits, is due to, or is worthy of oneself or one's position; self-respect; self-esteem, esp. of a legitimate or healthy kind or degree.

 

5. The feeling of satisfaction, pleasure, or elation derived from some action, ability, possession, etc., which one believes does one credit. Chiefly in to take (a) pride in.

 

I would hope that organists are free of defintions 1, 2, but surely all should be aware of (3) and should hope for (5).

 

There is a story of an Abbott who was asked for a good book about humility, and who replied that the best one that he knew was the one that he had written. Pride, like humility, is having the appropriate sense of one's worth and abilities, being realistic. False modesty is not a virtue.

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Many words have a variety of meanings or shades of meaning, and when there are different possibilities it is usually advisable to seek the most favourable interpretation of what the speaker / writer intended.

 

Quoting some of many definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary:

 

1. A high, esp. an excessively high, opinion of one's own worth or importance which gives rise to a feeling or attitude of superiority over others; inordinate self-esteem.

 

2. Arrogant, haughty, or overbearing behaviour, demeanour, or treatment of others, esp. as exhibiting an inordinately high opinion of oneself.

 

3. A consciousness of what befits, is due to, or is worthy of oneself or one's position; self-respect; self-esteem, esp. of a legitimate or healthy kind or degree.

 

5. The feeling of satisfaction, pleasure, or elation derived from some action, ability, possession, etc., which one believes does one credit. Chiefly in to take (a) pride in.

 

I would hope that organists are free of defintions 1, 2, but surely all should be aware of (3) and should hope for (5).

 

There is a story of an Abbott who was asked for a good book about humility, and who replied that the best one that he knew was the one that he had written. Pride, like humility, is having the appropriate sense of one's worth and abilities, being realistic. False modesty is not a virtue.

 

All this revolves around self and not service.

 

Jonathan

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It happened some time ago at Peterborough Crematorium - the Wesley System replaced live organists and I was out of a job. (A job which I mostly enjoyed.)

 

The clergy weren't keen, but nobody seems bothered any more. I'm sure it will happen everywhere. The system is very efficient and can do everything an organist can do on an electronic, except bring music at the beginning to a close rather than just fade

 

 

Yep, it happened in Cardiff Crem a few years back. The Wesley system took over, and now if a family want a "real" organist they have to find onw, or at least the FD does. This seems to happen very rarely (once that I can recall in about 4 years and that was the post-church cremation of a chorister's father at which |I was asked to play as a friend - which I did of course).

 

Peter

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No disaster to report. Took leave of mother today, fortunately a real live organist was engaged for the crematorium and it all felt entirely right.

I'd felt a bit of a bully for holding out for real music, prayers and hymns and rather dreaded being the only one singing, such was the lukewarm attitude of father. It had to be a hackneyed hymn to be certain that everyone would sing it; but the other music was very nicely delivered and tailored to our movements. Well done, whoever she was.

 

So no mechanised music here today, and one fairly happy daughter.

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We have the Wesley system in both chapels at the local crem, but in all honesty, I can't say that it has affected me particularly. What it has done, though is to weed out all the two-fingered, crappy and the elderly pianist/organists who used to turn up and take the work away from those of us who actually know what they're doing.

 

I have also found that the discerning and regular church-going families will always use a good organist (especially for the hymns) and maybe, if they have a particular request for something modern, they use the Wesley system for pre-recorded music as they enter and leave the chapel. More often than not, however, the organist is expected to play something properly, and the congregation are often requested to stay and listen before they leave, if there is time in the creamatorium's schedule for the day.

 

Incidentally our crematorium has spent a considerable amount SINCE the Wesley system was installed endowing the chapels with two very good Wyvern digital organs, the one in the larger chapel being a custom-built instrument, with a solid oak English-built console having a bespoke multi-channel speaker enclosure on the 'west' wall to really maximise the Phoenix system installed within the organ. This organ is instrumental (!) in really encouraging even the most reluctant congregation to give it a go and join in with the hymns.

 

In an average week, I would estimate that in both chapels the organs are used for at least 40 funerals.

 

It should also be remembered that the chapels are (and must be) multi-faith buildings and it is interesting to note that although the organs are not generally used for muslim, seikh and other demoninations, the Wesley system is often not used either!!

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I have just attended a funeral in Enfield crem, and the music was provided by a choir, and accompanied by a portable electric piano (I have never known this before).

Therefore the organist and organ was totally redundant, which I would have much preferred to hear ! even if it was a toaster.!

Colin Richell

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  • 4 weeks later...

I read in my latest copy of "The Weekly News" that a disgruntled vicar has hit out at the growing pratice of what he calls "karaoke" funerals.

The Rev Brian Stevens is incensed that his local crematorium in Northampton is dispensing with the services of its veteran organist Tony Edwards and his assistant and replacing them with a computerised music player.

The player stores a library of hymns and can download new songs and is being used in increasing numbers in crematoria and places of worship.

Rev Stevens describes the new system as "dire" and insisted an organist plays according to the congregation, while a music system doesn't.

It is awful, karaoke machines are for pubs.

Dignity Funerals who own the crematorium insist that the music system offers a better service.

Who is right ?

Colin Richell.

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Another problem is that many mourners wish to play their own cd's (ie favourite music of the deceased) and therefore would not wish to pay for the organ and organist.

Very few mourners take part in the hymn singing, and unfortunately the organist is not always of the best quality.

I, am, of course talking about crematoriums, and I assume that a church funeral service would not allow pre-recorded music.

Colin Richell

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Am I alone in thinking that this is an awful name?

 

Nope. It is toe-curlingly patronising. Evelyn Waugh simply didn't go far enough!

 

I thought the demise of the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company was a great pity, if only because of the loss of such a splendid name. Had its own railway, too, at one time.

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Nope. It is toe-curlingly patronising. Evelyn Waugh simply didn't go far enough!

 

I thought the demise of the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company was a great pity, if only because of the loss of such a splendid name. Had its own railway, too, at one time.

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Am I alone in thinking that this is an awful name?

 

How about "White Lady Funerals"?

 

I have wondered if they would be able to get away with that name in the USA.

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I have wondered if they would be able to get away with that name in the USA.

A quick Google reveals that most FDs in the States use either a family name or a location (as over here). However, a few are more shall we say 'interesting'. Here is a selection from the LA directory:

 

  • the slightly cheesy Chapel of the Angels
  • the rather B movie All Souls Mortuary
  • the somewhat prosaic Affordable Burials & Cremations
  • and the just plain alarming Crippen's

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  • 3 months later...
In Cardiff we have the Green Willows funeral directos, which has an appealingly environmentally friendy ring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following on from this thread I read today that an angry vicar in Tunbridge Wells suggests that he feels like a lemon at funerals where they blast out Tina Turner songs and read bad poetry.

He suggests that his presence at funerals is pointless and he had better ways of spending his time.

(obviously he dos not need the fee !)

The vicar suggests that it is painfully obvious that many families have no desire for any Christian content whatsoever.

The vicar has stood in the crem wondering why he is present at the funeral of someone led in by the tunes of Tina Turner and sent into the furnace with "I did it my way" blaring out across the speakers.

He asks what point is there for him to be present if spiritually unwanted ?

At one time the Requiem Mass would have been the norm and not the exception. Mourners who opt for non-religious ceremonies are conned by "humanists" making money from death.

(so the vicar does not accept a fee then, otherwise he could be accused of making money from death !)

He also refers to humanist funerals, or hotel weddings and is reminded of the words "forgive them for they know not what they do"

It was a very long article and I have only quoted extracts, but the vicar does end by asking the question "what are funerals for ?"

I have attended many funerals where recorded music is played and others where there has been no music, and I do not mind either way.

But, have you all noted the ommission ? there is absoulutely no reference to the organist who is denied the opportunity to play, and indeed receive the appropiate fee. If the vicar feels so strongly I suggest he donates his fee to charity-some chance of that !

Colin Richell,

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I, too, read this article this morning. I play regularly at one crematorium and occasionally at another. At the one I play for regularly I am told that of all the Funeral Directors who use it regularly (and there are many) only one thought it would be a good idea to have organists replaced by the Wesley system. The rest wanted to keep us - and there are about six us playing regularly.

 

It is true that canned music gets played which would not be to my taste but if I'm paid for playing one hymn (the same as I get if I play three hymns, plus the in and out music) why should I worry? I am a professional musician and if this helps to pay for my bread and cheese then so be it; I am not there - or paid - to judge.

 

I am aware of one deanery in a neighbouring Diocese where they are trying to tighten up on what happens in their local crematorium - including who is authorised to take the services - but that is up to them.

 

The priest mentioned in the Telegraph today is an Anglican and well known in the realms of Anglo Catholic societies and blogs. From what I can tell, he is highly regarded by those who know him and he runs a successful parish in a run-down area. Whilst I cannot speak for Christians who are not in communion with the See of Canterbury, my understanding of the system in the C-of-E is that any fees that clergy get for weddings and funerals go to their diocese to help pay their stipend and they therefore don't make a "profit" out of it. I don't know what the situation is for the ever increasing number of clergy who are non-stipendiary. Perhaps Quentin or Patrick could clarify. I know - and work with - a lot of clergy who take funerals on a regular basis and I never fail to be impressed by the amout of pastoral care and concern they show on every occasion.

 

Malcolm

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