Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last Things: Planning Your Own Funeral Arrangements

Rich Leonardi has posted his desires for his funeral Mass (which will hopefully take place in the distant future many years from now):
(1) There shall be no eulogy or remembrance of any kind, either during the time reserved for the homily or before the final commendation. If anyone wishes to toast (or roast) me, they can do so at a wake, reception, or pub.
(2) There shall be frequent requests by the celebrating priest for prayers on behalf of my soul and those of the dead.
(3) The homily shall address purgatory and refer to it by name.
(4) The celebrating priest shall wear black vestments, preferably made from natural fibers.
(5) As much of the Ordinary of the Mass as possible shall be chanted, in Latin and Greek.
(6) The bereavement/funeral planning committee shall refer to Lucy E. Carroll's essay "Music for Catholic Funerals" for guidance on the selection of hymns.
(7) If possible, the funeral Mass shall be a Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. In that case, most of the above requests and safeguards won't be necessary. (That's worth thinking about, I think.)
Which reminded me of similar plans I drew up last November when I was contemplating the Last Things. In addition to the things Rich mentions (in which I wholeheartedly concur), I have also specified the following details for my funeral Mass:

Funeral Mass with its music components:

· PreludeDies Irae, organ and cantor/soloist

· Blessing at entranceRequiem Aeternam, chant

· Processional – Hymn: The King of Love my Shepherd Is (Tune: St. Columba)

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.
· Readings – read by family member
Old Testament:
Wisdom 3:1-9 (“…the souls of the just are in the hand of God …”)

New Testament:
Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 (“[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)


Philippians 3:8-14 ("...I run toward the prize to which God calls me...")

· Responsorial Psalm – sung by cantor/organist; refrain sung by congregation
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staffthat give me courage.

R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
· Acclamation – Latin Chant Alleluia

· Gospel and Sermon – Priest
Gospel: St. John 6:51-58 (The “Bread of Life”)


St. John 14:1-6 (“There are many rooms in my Father's house... I am the way and the truth and the life.”)

· PreparationPie Jesu (Lloyd Webber), organ and cantor/soloist

· Sanctus / Acclamation / Amen (People’s Mass); Agnus Dei (Latin Chant Mass) – Sung by congregation, cantor/organist

· Communion – Hymn: Soul of My Savior (Tune: Anima Christi)
Soul of my Savior sanctify my breast,
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest,
Blood of my Savior, bathe me in thy tide,
wash me with waters gushing from thy side.

Strength and protection may thy passion be,
O blessèd Jesus, hear and answer me;
deep in thy wounds, Lord, hide and shelter me,
so shall I never, never part from thee.

Guard and defend me from the foe malign,
in death's dread moments make me only thine;
call me and bid me come to thee on high
where I may praise thee with thy saints for aye.
· Post-Communion MeditationAve Maria (Bach), organ and cantor/soloist

· Final commendationIn Paradisum, organ and cantor/soloist

· Recessional –Hymn: I Know That My Redeemer Lives (Tune: Duke Street)

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.

He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high.

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death:
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

By the way, for my wake, I am requesting that the following songs, as recorded by Van Morrison, be played:

· “Carrickfergus”
· “Into the Mystic”
· “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”
· “Be Thou My Vision”

You will notice that Rich requires that the "funeral planning committee shall refer to Lucy E. Carroll's essay 'Music for Catholic Funerals' for guidance on the selection of hymns". If you follow the link, you might also notice that I consulted that very document last November when compiling my own list of music to be used at my funeral.

Great minds, and all that. Like Rich, I highly recommend Carroll's piece for those who would like to plan the music for their own funeral Mass, as well as for those responsible for funeral planning at their parish.

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At 11/26/2008 6:49 AM, Blogger Zach said...

Hope y'all don't die in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, or some such place. You'll be SOL on those plans. :)

Seriously, though, they're great ideas, and I'm going to have to create my own list.

At 12/14/2008 5:05 PM, Anonymous Funeral Readings Guru said...

Excellent article. Thanks

At 8/11/2009 8:16 AM, Anonymous Funeral Readings said...

Brilliant article. Very well written.

At 8/11/2009 8:18 AM, Anonymous Funeral Readings Expert said...

Lovely article. I've really enjoyed reading it.


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