Dá fhad ón mbaile a imíonn tú,
is ea is milse an ceol ar d’fhilleadh abhaile.
Who farthest away e’er did roam,
heard the sweetest music on returning home.
Old Irish Proverb
It’s difficult to know what to say when one looses a family member or friend. Music somehow offers consolation at the final farewell. It brings people together and reverently administers healing at a church gathering or commemorative service.
Church Music for Funerals
I’m happy to become part of the process and serve to honour the memory of your loved one through song in a sensitive and poignant way. Whether this happens in a church or at a commemorative service, I will guide you though the best options as an experienced funeral singer.
There are more guidelines in the Christian tradition. The words of the songs chosen often relate to the biblical readings of the service. If you are thinking of including a piece of non-religious music, it is important that it will contribute to the atmosphere of Christian worship. The Church can be strict on musical choice during the actual Mass, recommending such music to be played after the Eucharistic celebration has ended.
Removal to the Church
Music is possible at four points in this simple liturgy.
- The Entrance Song accompanies the Procession from the door of the Church and is complete when all are in place to continue with the liturgy. The rite of reception of the body at the Church has great significance
- The Responsorial Psalm is sung after the First Reading and many settings of appropriate psalms are available. The psalm enables the community to respond in faith to the readings, to express its grief. They are rich in imagery, feeling and symbolism. They powerfully express the suffering and pain, the hope and trust of people of every age and culture. Since the psalms are songs, whenever possible, they should be sung.
- The Prayer of Intercession is spoken or sung after the homily. The Litany used has a ‘Lord have mercy’ response – this can be sung in English, Latin or Irish.
- Offering of Sympathy to family – music as the congregation offer their sympathies is always appreciated and contributes to the warmth of the ceremony.
The Funeral Mass
The choice of music, either vocal or instrumental, at a funeral mass follows the usual guidelines for any Eucharistic celebration.
After Communion the celebrant leads the congregation in the Final Commendation and Farewell. A song/instrumental piece of farewell is usual as the coffin is incensed and sprinkled with water before it leaves the church.
‘Nearer My God to Thee’ or ‘Abide with Me’ are popular choices as the final song, when the coffin is processed out of the Church.
Some families like to have a song sung at the time of burial and this is also possible.