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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A Very Different Funeral

Weather conspired against... or with? me.
This was a first at the parish for me, no one, not even a musically inclined undertaker's assistant to join me in the loft.
The funeral choir members were apparently all snowed in, or more probably, plowed in. (There is a very cavalier attitude displayed by our city snow removal personnel, in regards to private driveways and walks whose owners have already cleared them.)

Ordinarily, I would have been, I blush to tell it, pleased at such solitude.
I would have gone down to the ambo to lead the psalm, and sung the Gospel acclamation from below, and enhanced, (or so I immodestly think,) the liturgy with some Faure or Handel, and prayed at least a modicum of the Mass in Latin.

But I am possibly flu-ish, and at minimum, horribly-horrible-head-cold-ish.
So, instead of reveling in the freedom from dealing with the cursing, shouting, gossiping, loudly either complaining about or admiring the musical choices funeral choir, I was scrambling, what would I sing?
And I forgot to toll the bell (not normally my job, but in the absence of anyone else, I should have thought...)

First thing I did was sigh with relief that no one would be clamoring to sing the mandated pre-funeral concert of top 40 sacchro-sacro-pop and Protestant hymnody.

I gave a half second consideration to singing the Sanctus from the Requiem Mass, but since the pastor has reprimanded me for that in the past, I didn't think just because another priest had the Mass I should be so snarky. So, Danish Amen it was.

I had already programmed the Christopher Tietze hymnification ('zat a word?) of Requiem Aeternam, although for Offertory hymn, as the choir isn't quite used to it yet, and I often have some extra singers by Offertory, (the undertaker's assistants wasn't a joke,) so i bumped that to its proper, forgive the wordplay, place and used it for entrance.

For the responsorial I chanted the 122nd psalm to a Meinrad tone.

I couldn't risk the Gregorian Domine Jesu at the preparation, as I've never sung it aloud before, and with my voice not quite all there, I couldn't be as sure of what would come out, or in what range, as well as I could something I've done a lot. And I haven't yet arrived at a good strophic hymn text of the Offertory proper, (but I might be close.)

So I sang the David Hurd setting of Simeon's canticle, which I find a very suitable alius cantus aptus for funerals.
After Lux Aeterna I turned to the Gregorian Ave Verum for communion.

I sang the In Paradisum in English, (didn't want to push my luck,) but it was nice for a change to pick an easy key, (sang OVER my cold, rather than under,) and an easy tempo, instead of trying to drive them along with hands and voice.

And so as not to completely foil expectations, I played a "closing hymn" after that. Short of voice or not, I did not want to flout rubrics and do something purely instrumental, (though wouldn't Nimrod have been nice?), but I needn't have bothered.
I started in on The Strife Is O'er, but Father pretty well drowned it out, speculating aloud, on his live body mic, about whether his galoshes were where he thought they were, and would he be able to get by without them at the cemetery.

Somewhat less profane conversation than he is often picked up engaging in either before or after Mass....

Anyway, I have never had so large a proportion of the funeral regulars (does every parish have them? I hope so,) tell me how prayerful and well-chosen the music was.
This leads me to believe if I could only get the pastor's support, a reform would not be impossible with this parish.

Oh, well...

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