Monday, 15 June 2015

Dead With a Smile on My Face

According to the BBC website,
"You're more likely to hear Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side of Life - according to a 2014 survey, the most popular song played at UK funerals - than Verdi's Requiem."
Well, I should think you are. "Always look" is about 4 minutes long. Whereas Verdi's Requiem is getting on for a couple of hours. The debate with the Crem management would be interesting.

"Can I bring my own CDs?"

"Sure. Which track?"

"Oh, no. All of it."

"No. And the 200-strong quire ain't going to fit in the 'Jezza Bentham Memorial Chapel'."

"OK. Can we have 'My Way'?"

"My Way" being the summary of the modern funeral. A bloke who's done stock accounting at a brass accessories firm for 50 years, then died because he couldn't face the wild excitement of sitting in his front room watching "Cash in the Attic" and they play "My Way." Just like they did for his dad, and his uncle. And technically "the end is near", but only because we're looking back on it.

"Always look on the Bright Side of Life" is a glorious song. Fantastically inappropriate in its original context, picked up with sarcastic intent by gloomy football fans. It's a song exactly in keeping with the modern view on life and death. That is, it is literally whistling in the dark. It's not about "celebration" rather than "mourning". It's about ironic fatalism, the thing English people fall back on when we have nothing to believe in.  Whereas the old BCP funeral service, with its sure and certain knowledge of eternal life, its glimpse of eternity and resurrection - that was, among the challenge, hopeful.

The irony that "Soul Limbo" is in the top 20 in that survey cheers me up no end. I hope "Another one Bites the Dust" is due for a comeback.


  1. If I don't get "Abide with me" and "The Lord's my shepherd" - good tear-jerkers both - I shall come back and haunt you all.

  2. Told my young Bruv that I wanted Softly and Gently from Gerontius, he suggested that the Demon's chorus might be more fitting.

  3. The one I can't stand is All Things Bright And Beautiful - had to sing it at a Requiem - for an adult - last month.

    The tune reminds me of those ghastly down-with-the-tiny-tots hymns we had to sing at Sunday School, (in fact, it was written for "little children" originally) while the words only bring to mind All Things Dark And Gruesome which Cecil Alexander would presumably concede were also Made by The Lord God - like parasitic wasps, piranha fish. vultures and the like.

    Also it annoys me that the PC brigade have succeeded in banishing that verse about

    The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    He made them, high or lowly,
    And ordered their estate.

    If we're going to sing it, let's sing it warts and all, people!

  4. I would like the Russian Kontakion for the departed sung at my funeral. The handy little plainsong notation version which was in the old English Hymnal could be provided for mourners, with a half hour choir practice before the funeral (drinks supplied). I've written it into my will, and anyone who refuses to join in will be cut out of the distribution of donkeys.

  5. Guide me oh Thou Great Redeemer
    All the Saints
    Be thou my Vision
    Sung Gloria

    will do me.

  6. OK, forget the Kontakion: I too will go with the Snog Gloria.

  7. I'll go for Storm the Forts of Darkness when I get promoted to glory. Along with Sullivan's "The Homeland"


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