Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mortal thoughts

I was at the funeral today of someone we've known all the time we've lived here, a stalwart of the kirk. The church was packed. And it got me thinking mortal thoughts, and that it's probably a lot easier for everyone if, as this friend did, you make a few stipulations before you pop off. So here we go:

First of all, if I'm still worshipping at Holy T, and if the building is still standing, that's where I want things to happen. Whoever takes the service must be known to do a good job with funerals - the present incumbent will do nicely, thank you, if I take my leave sooner rather than later - and be prepared to use the Liturgy (I kinda like 1987 or the Scottish Prayer Book, and I'd really like a Requiem Mass). If there is still an organ in church, it should be played by a good organist, and if neither is to hand I think I'll settle for a CD or two played over a decent speaker at a bold volume. (Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary and the Kontakion for the departed come to mind ...)

If there are good singers around, I'd like to think of them singing - Be still my soul, There is a Redeemer, that sort of thing - but if everyone is ancient/tone-deaf I think it'd be better if there was no communal singing at all.

But most of all, I don't want anyone to stand up and tell God about me. God knows all there is to know about me, and there is no need to labour the point. If someone wants to tell other people about me, that's fine, as long as it's someone who actually knew me. And I don't want to be wheeled out on a trolley, and I have a horror of crematoria.

I might even get round to writing this all down properly, somewhere - but for now, this is me letting off a small puff of steam while I'm still here. 'Nuff said, eh?


  1. Well ..... Mr B, Neil and Euan aside ... I'd be honoured to ensure you get your preferred send off ... But not until you've met and made an impact on my grandchildren!


  2. They wheel me in or out and I'll come back to haunt them. Every last one of them!

  3. Had to post again cos the word verification was "chris"!!!!!!!

  4. Well worth getting your wishes down in writing long before they are needed, Christine. In my years of active ministry I was always pleased to be told that "I took a good funeral" and I spent a lot of time with each family in planning the service (around the liturgy of course).

    Sadly it was only for a small minority of funerals that I had any idea of what the deceased had wanted. It seems most people can't bear the idea of planning a funeral before death.

  5. I think it's really a good idea to think about this if you can. I too know what I want and don't want -- but I have not written it down -- and I must. Now having said that, best wishes to you for a long and healthy life!

  6. Do me best to stick around for a bit, chaps - thanks for the encouragement!

  7. I've been telling people for years that I'll haunt them if they don't include "Behold the mountain of the Lord" (tune: Glasgow) and "By cool Siloam's shady rill" (tune: Belmont) at my pompes fun├Ębres.
    They are not at all usual for obsequies, but I don't care. If the deceased cannot choose hymns, who can? They remind me of childhood enthusiasm. If I could persuade the mourners to join in with "Yield not to temptation" and "I will make you fishers of men" (would that have to become "...of people" in this sensitive age?) it would remind me of the Friday nights in winter when we used to shelter in the warmth of the Band of Hope, watching flannelgraphs & lantern slides, being inoculated against the perils of the demon drink - alas, in vain. Ah! Happy days!