10/31/2013 1:44:00 PM Music should key on paschal mystery
Catholic Sentinel photo
The St. Mary Cathedral choir
For funerals, parish musicians often are asked to include secular songs the family chooses because they held special significance for the deceased. Though the musicians explain that the songs are not appropriate, the requests continue.
The introduction to the Catholic Church's Order of Christian Funerals discusses music in the funeral liturgy:
"Music is integral to the Funeral rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that word alone may fail to convey. It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord's suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture."
Church practice holds that while funeral music may express "convictions and feelings," its subject must always be the paschal mystery and it must be related to the readings from Scripture.
The Order of Christian Funerals asks that, rather than adopting popular secular songs which are inappropriate to a liturgical setting, we should seek out good liturgical music on a paschal theme which can "support, console, and uplift participants and help to create in them a spirit of hope in Christ's victory over death and in the Christian's share in that victory."