Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Yeah? well, then YOU tell them...

This seems to be said to me more frequently than to other people, at least the other people the intimacies of whose social intercourse I am aware in any detail.

(Which includes more people than you might think .... I seem to be at a point and place in my life where most of my acquaintances feel bound to relay the entire content of most of their conversations: So then I says to 'em... and then HE goes... so I up an' asks... you know the drill. I am not kidding. One pal regularly goes into such detail as, and then I said WHAT?!?#$?! and he says yeah, and I just shake my head, and then...)

We've had a rash of funerals. It's that time of year, and the vicious weather probably isn't lifting anyone's spirits or ameliorating his illnesses.
This morning was one of those where someone in the (not immediate) family chose to play liturgist. (This actually makes it a great deal easier, as one needn't put up with as much guff from someone who is not in mourning.)

The kicker this time was that the person in question really was a liturgist, and yet seemed slightly less informed that our average PIP.
He arrived spitting nails, with his karaoke accompaniment tucked under his arm.
What do you mean you don't have a sound system to play this on? (I bit my tongue and didn't add, and even if I had...)
And what's this the funeral director tells me that you won't use [favorite top 40 sacro-sacchro-pop song] as the psalm?
And didn't you get my email about the Mass parts? (You mean the setting of the ordinary?) Well it's the one we always use at my church, and this is the first I've heard that those aren't actually the words of the Mass.
And who says we can't pronounce [the unpronounceable tetragrammaton] where'd ya get that idea?
Well, the CDW-
Nah, I never read that stuff the diocese sends out...
Do YOU want to be the one to tell Cousin Flora's kids?

(Smiling) Sure.

That response always seems to take the wind out of the most belligerent people's sails. (It works at sub-committee meetings, too.)
The impression I get from the success of this technique is that people in these situations are at their most belligerent when they are trying to enforce their own preferences and intentions under the guise of insisting someone else's dearest wish.
(I had one funeral last year where two rival soloists, non-blood relatives showed up in the loft with competing "the Family's wishes", each of which, mirabile dictu, involved a show-piece by the bearer of the message.)
I'm going to play a clarinet solo for communion.
Well, it was a sacred piece, I figured you pick your battles, and a parish "liturgy director" who'd never heard of the General Instruction was going to give me a deer in the headlights look at the mention of the Ceremonial of Bishops.

Should it have been any surprise that this guy had his wife there to video his performance?...er,... his musical prayer?

I am trying, moving at what feels like glacial speed, to change my parish's liturgical practice regarding funerals.
The In Paradisum took a year before they finally gave up fighting me on it, the "only lectionary texts or other approved psalters" for the psalm took another year (and still gets me a lot of flack.)
I got the biggest funeral home on board with not presenting the family with a list of choices that included a lot of inappropriate music, but the others still pull out a list from who knows where, featuring stuff I don't know, never heard of and wouldn't play or sing on a bet, I think from 5 choir directors ago.
I'm working now on convincing TPTB, (of which, how is that?, I am not one...) to go to a "default" program, printed on pew cards so that people know the responses, for the love of pete, and the words to the ordinary, and when to stand and sit and kneel, who cares about the "songs?"
I wish they would stop making families in mourning think that it's their responsibility to play liturgist and "pick the songs."

My next move, I'm not sure.
I'm trying to introduce hymn texts to favorite tunes that are a decent approximation of the funeral propers.
There's a concept.
(Nope, sorry, not a chance of getting away from the Hymn Sandwich yet, not here.)

And I'd love to get rid of the "concert" before Mass.
Ah well, reach and grasp, and what's heaven for and all that....


Mary Jane said...

My funeral (the only I played and sang, not my own) this morning didn't include a clarinet solo. Darn. And at least the priest agreed that "Here I Am, Lord" wasn't appropriate. Otherwise, we were all over the musical map from Amazing Grace to Panis Angelicus.

Of course, I had to play Schutte later at the weekend Mass. What's even more distressing is he'll be giving a concert and workshop at our diocesan retreat center in February, thereby setting music back another 20 years. Because, heck, if he came here - it must be good, no?

Keep up the good fight.

Charles said...

This is a dated version left on our previous website that's since been revised: