Funeral music

Forget hymns like “Abide With Me”, “Amazing Grace” and “Jerusalem” the next time you attend a funeral, because you’re more likely to hear Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” or the theme song from the Benny Hill television show.

A survey of 30,000 funerals conducted last year found that hymns were now the most popular requests at only 35% of services. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra was the most popular, followed by “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler and “Time To Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.

“You Raise Me Up” by Westlife and “Angels” by Robbie Williams made the top 10, while X Factor winner Alexandra Burke’s “Hallelujah” was at number 26 only months after topping the Christmas chart.

Lorinda Sheasby, of Co-operative Funeralcare, said the findings indicated that tastes are changing, with television programs and chart hits influencing people’s choices.

“Today’s tear-jerking chart topper is extremely unlikely to be tomorrow’s funeral classic but it’s quite possible it will figure highly in the months or even years to come.”

On the downside, priests reject one in 10 requests, including those for AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” and “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Even further on the downside is that some requests are for theme songs from soap operas.

People must be awfully dull round here because I hardly ever get asked for anything like the above. My biggest problem just now is that Dad is requesting Courage Brother, Do Not Stumble. Quite. Have you ever heard it?

Singalong a Missa Simplex

I went to choir practice last night. Not to sing per se, but to lurk and learn the new mass setting which will be given an airing on our Patronal Festival this Friday. The Bishop is coming and we want to be at our best.

I liked it. It is in the back of our hymn book (Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New) – No 957 Missa Simplex by Malcolm Archer. If I managed it then everyone else should too. But you know what it’s like with something new…

Something else I noticed… one of my fave hymns is In our Day of Thanksgiving which we used to sing at St Michael and All Saints to the tune St Catherine’s Court. But all the newer hymn books have it to the tune Was Lebet which is easier but not so nice, imho. What do you sing it to?

Music at St Mark’s

Just back from a great afternoon of  music at St Mark’s. Our own Bridget, husband Lawrence, friend Wendy Weatherby and others entertained us for hours with music to singalong to or tap our feet. The worrying thing is that I knew far too many of the old songs. Does that mean I am actually old or just appreciate old music?

Took me back to my dad playing Stardust and The Old Music Master by Hoagy Carmichael on the piano for me when I was little. And now my boys like some of my music too and not just hiphop and whatever else is prevalent these days. It’s good to be broadminded in music.

It’s good to be broadminded full stop.

Set the Mood

What am I listening to today? Well, thank you for asking. I started off with mellow classical to try and calm me down. There is nothing quite like Farewell to Stromness for soothing my troubled spirits. (The linked version is guitars and not piano, but you get the drift.) But I am afraid it was going to take more than that when I am suffering from pre-Holy week nerves and stress.

So I decided to go for my new album Set the Mood by David Jordan. (He’s the one who sings Sun Goes Down.) Funky is good for lifting the spirits. Try him out. I like it. He’s a wee bit of Prince and a wee bit of Terence Trent Darby and a big bit of himself, I dare say.

Round 1 : Organ vs Heating

We had the organ tuners round yesterday. They had asked for the church to be heated to its normal Sunday morning temperature. I suspected this was more for their benefit than for the organ’s and who can blame them? Four hours in a freezing church must do nothing for your tuning abilities.

It was my day off but I had popped in with some more goodies for the Advent Fayre tomorrow (today now, if you want to come). I stopped for a chat to see how it was all going and was met with a tale of woes. In the past our poor old organ has suffered greatly from water coming in from a leaky roof. But no more, since the roof was repaired last year. Now the problem is the heat! They said they had never known such a warm church. Haven’t I been saying that all along?

People come to St Mark’s and take off all their clothes immediately. Well not all, but you know what I mean. Then I have to put on two layers of polyester and heavy brocade and proceed to bloom/perspire/sweat at a great rate, losing about a stone at each service. Well not quite, but you know what I mean.

The result of this toastiness is that the leathers have cracked, the wood has split and all in all it has done a lot of damage to the organ. It is going to cost mega-bucks to fix. Like enough money to save Darfur from starvation, or the equivalent. We don’t have that much money and if we did, would we want to spend it on the organ? Oh what a dilemma.

In the short term they are doing what they can but have suggested the heating is turned down to a reasonable level and install a humidifier within the organ. This also costs mega-bucks but not as many as would feed a small starving nation.

So what do we do? My heart knows how important music is to our liturgy. My head knows that this a lot of money to spend on a musical instrument when people are starving. Help!

Temptations and The Four Tops

Bit of a sore throat this morning after singing my wee heart out last night with Son #1 at the Temptations and Four Tops concert. Son #2 had bought the tickets – he learned his love of Motown from his old mum – but as he is still down-under he couldn’t go. I did try to sell his tickets, honest.  So we went instead and Son #1 was a tad reluctant, having lots of studying to do and being far too cool to enjoy some very old boy bands.

Well, apart from the woman on Prozac, he was first on his feet to boogie on down. What a night! It was just wonderful. Everyone was up dancing, artificial hips, knees and all. I haven’t had so much exercise in a long time. Just great.

Choral Evensnog

What a success last night’s Choral Evensnog was. (Yes, I know it should be Evensong but I much prefer the idea of an Evensnog.) The choir, under the direction of Andrew Morley, sang two beautiful anthems by Rutter. I loved the Clare Benediction especially. The congregation were full of awe and wonder and reminiscences of that old familiar language of the 1929 Prayer Book. (Don’t get too used to it – it ain’t gonna happen again for a while!)

And all I had to do was turn up, give absolution and read a long passage from Chronicles. In short, I was not going to get nearly enough attention. So I wore my academic hood. Boy, did that get me attention! Purple lining and a bit of fake fur and I could hear the gasps when I processed out at the end of the choir and made my deep bow to the altar. Gorgeous!

Tonight it’s the Quiz Night. Still time to get a team together…

Answer to a prayer

Sometimes someone does something so kind that you are lost for words. (Not for long, in my case.) So thank you Pastoral Musician for reading my blog, noting that I could do with a Choral Evensnog bookie and for sending me one. You are an angel!

Now, has anyone got that sermon…?