While clearing out some cupboards here in Christ Church we came across bound copies of The Scottish Churchman, which seems to be the 1937 version of Inspires. What an interesting periodical it is too. Letters from Bishops; Scottish Church News; Letter from a Library; Our Book Shelf; Our Serial Story; Bible Studies; Chanda Notes; Obscure Scottish Poets; Aspects of Scottish Church Work; the Children’s Page; and Churchwomen’s Missionary Association are all there. I may share some of the articles with you.
This one, in particular, caught my eye…
A Funeral At Rouen
The whole of the outside of the west door at St Ouen was hung with heavy jet-black curtains, edged with broad white braid, and behind the High Altar three great black panels had been set up, which filled nearly the whole of the spaces between the pillars. The High Altar was also hung with black, and lit with innumerable candles, both electric and wax. An immense black catafalque was erected at the foot of the chancel steps, a great many candles burning round it. At the south-west corner of the church, just inside the door, a “Chapelle Ardente” had been constructed, all very black and sombre looking, in this the coffin had lain all night. At the appointed time a procession came down the south aisle from the sacristy, headed by young men and boys carrying a cross and candles, followed by choir-boys and men, and priests vested all in black, all chanting psalms in Latin, and proceeded to the “Chapelle Ardente”. The procession then preceded the coffin up in the middle aisle, with a great many mourners following. The coffin, which was of oak – the only bright spot! – was deposited in the catafalque. The priests said a Low Mass at the High Altar, the choir continuing to chant all the time. During the offertory a priest and a verger both came down the church and took a collection. When the Mass was over the procession came down into the chancel and the officiating priest walked twice round the catafalque, first sprinkling it with holy water, then incensing it. This ceremony concluded, the choir and the clergy preceded the coffin down the aisle to the west end of the church; there it was deposited on trestles just outside the “Chapelle Ardente” (which by this time had been almost dismantled!). One of the priests now turned round and addressed the mourners for a short time, after which he again sprinkled the coffin with holy water. The choir and priests then returned to the sacristy, except one little acolyte with the holy water vessel and sprinkler, then nearly all the friends and relations of the deceased went up and sprinkled the coffin with holy water. At last it was taken up and put into the hearse, and the mourners entering the waiting carriages. Fortunately the hearse and carriages were motors, for a funeral procession in France with horses is a very doleful sight. The black horses, with flowing tails and manes are draped with enormous black cloths which nearly touch the ground, while on their heads tall black plumes wave, the hearse also had several waving plumes, and the coachmen wear very deep mourning.
Now that’s what I call a funeral. Love the idea of everyone coming to sprinkle holy water on the coffin. Although I have noticed of late that the family and friends will often come forward at a burial to put a shovel-ful of earth in.