Funeral rules frequently hit sour notes

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Ed Blank's March 16 piece "Irish Eyes: The Priest Said No, But We Couldn't Hear Him" struck a familiar note for me. Having been a church organist for many years through high school and college, and singing in choirs for since I was 10, I've been a part of funeral services for a long time. Mr. Blank's attempts to have a particular piece of music sung at his dad's funeral and the outrageous charge that he was "harassing" the music director brought back a slew of similar memories for me.

I remember when Shubert's "Ave Maria" was banned from any Catholic service because the composer wasn't a Catholic, and I'm aware of a recent blowup over a family's request for the "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" ( they ended up playing it on a CD player while the priest raged). The church has a real knack for infuriating people at funerals. A church in Bellevue had (and perhaps still has ) a policy of no eulogies. When a life-long member of their choir and a volunteer for an equally long time was buried with nothing personal permitted to be said about her, people were devastated.

In the big picture, certainly there is a place for limits on what can be said or done or sung at a Catholic funeral, but "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" isn't quite in the same category as "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Once again, I think my church has bigger fish to fry.




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