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'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral

15 Sep 06 - 01:02 PM (#1835402)
Subject: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: PoppaGator

We've discussed this topic at least once before, and I had planned to resurrect and add to an old thread, but I can't seem to find any such past discussion. Should have put a "tracer" on it...

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks five years ago, a number of highly public funerals (e.g., for NYC police and firefighters) featured the singing of "Danny Boy," or at least the instrumental performance of its melody, also (originally?) known as "The Londonderry Air." The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, along with some but not all other US dioceses, responded with a ban on the use of this song at all Catholic services, because of its "secular" nature.

My mom passed away on August 26 after a long bout with vascular dementia. Because she had decided to donate her body to medical sience, there was no "funeral" per se (in the presence of the casketed body). Instead, we held a memorial mass.

Imagine my surprise, at the end of the service, at hearing the organ play the introductory notes of "Oh Danny Boy." I quickly realized that the recessional-hymn lyrics printed in the program were to be sung to this familiar melody.

My sister and my aunt had planned the musical program; I wish they had told me advance the tune to which the closing piece was to be sung ~ I'd have been better prepared to sing out loud and clear. Afterwards, they told me that the lyrics (see below) are a loose English translation of a very old Latin hymn, "In Paradisum" (sic?). Absolutely acceptable to any and all clerical authorities, and totally appropriate to the occasion:

May choirs of angels lead you into paradise,
And may the martyrs come to welcome you
To bring you home into the holy city
So you may dwell in New Jerusalem.
May holy angels be there at your welcoming
With all the saints who go before you there,
That you may know the peace and joy of paradise,
That you may enter into everlasting rest.

15 Sep 06 - 01:28 PM (#1835415)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

It makes me furious that the Catholic hierarchy is so pigheaded to the fine men (usually) who were pillars of the faith, fine fathers and husbands, etc. Men like my father (who hated Danny Boy and made me promise to never bring home an Irish tenor). But there is no reason on the face of this earth to deny them that one last tune. mg

15 Sep 06 - 01:32 PM (#1835417)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: MMario

it seems to me to be totally counterproductive to ban ANY music requested by the family at a memorial service.

15 Sep 06 - 01:53 PM (#1835429)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Hmmm. Not a bad solution to a problem we Catholic church musicians frequently encounter. It is indeed a fairly good translation of "In Paradisum," an ancient, beautiful song that is used for the final blessing at funerals. Here's the original text, and a more direct translation:

    In paradisum deducant te angeli
    May the angels guide you into paradise
    In tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
    And may the martyrs come forth to welcome you home;
    Et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem
    And may they lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
    Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
    May the angel chorus sing to welcome you,
    Et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
    And like Lazarus, forgotten and poor,
    Aeternam habeas requiem
    You shall have everlasting rest.

That translation is by Owen Alstott of Oregon Catholic Press. I'd translate the last part "May the angel chorus receive you; and with Lazarus, once homeless and poor, may you have everlasting rest." I hadn't realized that the song referred to the poor man in the "Dives and Lazarus" story - I've heard that song a thousand times, and always thought it was Lazarus who had been raised from the dead.

The objection to "Danny Boy" is that it isn't a religious song, even though it makes the religious connection of saying an "Ave." It has nothing to do with the ideas and themes expressed in a funeral Mass - it's just a nice, old, sentimental song that people like. There are lots of wonderful religious songs that are more suited to a funeral Mass, and that's what we're supposed to be singing. Many parishes discourage the singing of "Ave Maria" at Mass, and that surprises a lot of people - but again, it doesn't usually have anything to do with the theme of the liturgy except on feasts of Mary.

The restrictions on choice of songs are not hard-and-fast rules, and "Danny Boy" is still one of the songs most frequently sung at Catholic funerals (particularly at the funerals of Irish priests who die in the U.S.-even if the deceased priest might not have approved). Many (probably most) parishes will compromise and allow the singing of non-liturgical songs before or after the Mass, if they're reasonably appropriate.

The funeral Mass, after all, is an act of worship - so the general idea is that the songs sung during liturgy should fit the liturgy. Usually, it's not too hard to work a compromise out for a funeral that will suit the needs of everyone, although I have to say it killed me to try to satisfy the demands of a woman who wanted eleven songs for her father's funeral, and fourteen for her mother's funeral a year later - and she kept changing her mind about what songs she wanted. [Worst of all, she was in love with me and pursued me for two years - and I wasn't interested]

Catholic weddings are even tougher to deal with - many couples seem to have no idea that the Mass is a sacred act of worship, and they want to have everything be all about them and their favorite songs. Most Catholic parishes don't allow recorded music during Mass, either - and many couples want to have "their song" played at the wedding. Usually, we compromise and play it before or after Mass, or at the reception. And usually, we just give in and let them have their "Ave Maria" solo sung by the maiden aunt....

Think of the meaning of the song "Danny Boy," and then take a look at the "May the angels lead you into Paradise" song and think about it for a moment - isn't its meaning far more appropriate for a funeral Mass than "Danny Boy"?

-Joe Offer-

15 Sep 06 - 02:31 PM (#1835450)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: pattyClink

"May the angels" is certainly more religious. However the second verse of Danny Boy is of a father asking his son left behind to come and pray over his grave. So for an Irish daddy, it is not exactly inappropriate and speaks right to the heart of those left behind.    We wanted Danny Boy sung for our dad, but had to be content with an electric violin playing "May the angels", which at least gave us the tune.

That said, a few rules are good. Around here we have wills requiring their bereaved to play stuff like George Jones' "He stopped loving her today". It can get really out of hand.

15 Sep 06 - 02:33 PM (#1835451)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

It sounds like a nice song but why put it to Danny Boy...I am trying to in my head and it doesn't seem to work. How could it have meaning if the man who died had never heard it, never been asked to sing it on St. Patrick's Day, never thought of his father and forefathers singing it, however badly.... mg

15 Sep 06 - 03:31 PM (#1835494)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: jeffp

The version that PoppaGator posted scans perfectly to Danny Boy.

15 Sep 06 - 03:40 PM (#1835506)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

There are four usual places for hymns in the Catholic Mass, and all four are times of procession - the entrance song, when people gather to worship; the offertory song, when people carry their sacrificial gifts to the altar; the communion song, when people process in unity to receive the Eucharist; and the recessional, when people leave together to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord." There are specific meanings attached to each of these processions - and "Danny Boy" and "Ave Maria" don't fit any of them. The other songs in the Mass are prescribed texts of the liturgy, so there is little room for choice in those texts (other than a choice of Psalm verses); but there is room for a "meditation song" after Communion. Since the main part of the Mass is over after Communion, there's a bit more freedom of choice for this song.

The "May the angels" text is more than just religious - it has been an official (but optional) part of the funeral liturgy for centuries, long before "Danny Boy" was written. I sang the text in the first message to "Londonderry Air" to my mother-in-law this morning, and it worked - but I have to admit she prefers the "Danny Boy" lyrics.

There are tunes for "May the angels" that I prefer, but it seems to me that the version in the first message is a workable compromise for those who want "Danny Boy" at a funeral. And as I said above, most parishes WILL allow a song like "Danny Boy" before or after the actual funeral Mass (and sometimes after communion).

-Joe Offer-

15 Sep 06 - 03:42 PM (#1835508)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,Mick

I was at a Church of England funeral the other day and was shocked at the mumbo jumbo iterated by the vicar. Crossing himself and talking about seeing this old lady (92) in the future when she would be resurrected and how God and Jesus ... what a load of old codswallop and superstitious rubbish. Is this the 21st centuary or the dark ages?

15 Sep 06 - 03:46 PM (#1835517)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Yeah, I know what you mean, Mick. I don't know why it is that the clergy insist on expressing their religious beliefs and requiring religious songs at church funerals and weddings. It just isn't appropriate in this day and age.
-Joe Offer-

15 Sep 06 - 03:49 PM (#1835522)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: leeneia

"It makes me furious that the Catholic hierarchy is so pigheaded..."

If something this trivial really makes you furious, mg, then you ought to see the doctor and ask what's making you so angry.

I think it's reasonable to insist that a religious service have only religious words.

15 Sep 06 - 03:50 PM (#1835524)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Mick

GUEST,Mick, this has what to do with the discussion at hand? how does your intruding on a thread about religious service to express your disdain of religion, differ from me jumping into a secular discussion to evangelize, not that I would? I get a little tired of this need to point out to people of faith that they are deluded. Classic intolerance of other viewpoints.


15 Sep 06 - 03:52 PM (#1835526)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: MMario

I'm curious Joe - is there no place in a funeral Mass for a song to be used as or in place of a Eulogy, or a restrospective - which are featured in many memorial services?

15 Sep 06 - 03:55 PM (#1835530)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Mo the caller

If you want a church funeral you go along with the mumbo jumbo. If that's what you think it is have a secular funeral.
The worst was at my Father-in -law's, at the crematorium. They were not religious, my mother-in-law was disabled and not able to sit without pain.
We had asked for something short and not religious, the man officiating seemed to think that 'short' meant 'all the usual words at twice the speed'.

15 Sep 06 - 03:55 PM (#1835531)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

I dunno, Mick. Everything in this discussion seems to follow logically. I take it that Guest,Mick was speaking with his tongue in his cheek....or not.

15 Sep 06 - 04:10 PM (#1835545)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

MMario, the time after Communion is often set aside for a special song, remarks from the family, and so forth. There was a feeling among liturgists that this was getting out of hand and sometimes lasting over an hour and getting into matters that just didn't fit into a funeral Mass, so some dioceses have set (usually reasonable) restrictions on this practice. In our parish, the usual practice is to have one or two close friends or family members come up and speak, and those speakers are sometimes briefed by the priest or liturgy director beforehand. If people want to have a slide show or recorded music or remarks from other people, there's time for that at the reception in the church hall afterwards.

Weddings and funerals can often become festivals of tackiness and sentimentality. The churches often feel that it's worthwhile to set some guidelines. Most of the time, these restrictions are quite reasonable, and efforts are made to accommodate the wishes of the family as far as possible - keeping in mind that church weddings and funerals are worship services. Of course, there are a few very rigid personalities among the clergy who won't be either sympathetic or accommodating - but you have that problem in every profession.


15 Sep 06 - 04:15 PM (#1835550)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: MMario

Thanks for explainng, Joe! -Yes, I've run up against the "rigid personalities" issue before - including the priest that refused to have *any* memorial service of any kind in the parish because the persons daughter hadn't received permission from him to cremate the body.

15 Sep 06 - 04:22 PM (#1835556)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Murray MacLeod

... Around here we have wills requiring their bereaved to play stuff like George Jones' "He stopped loving her today".


Thanks, pattyClink, that's the funniest thing I have read on here for ages ...

15 Sep 06 - 05:33 PM (#1835619)
Subject: Lyr Add: HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY (George Jones
From: Joe Offer

I think that calls for a song:

George Jones

He said I'll love you till I die
She told him you'll forget in time
As the years went slowly by
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she'd come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
dated 1962
He had underlined in red
Every single I love you

I went to see him just today
Oh but I didn't see no tears
All dressed up to go away
First time I'd seen him smile in years

Chorus: He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

You know she came to see him one last time
Oh and we all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he's over her for good


from: Cowpie

15 Sep 06 - 06:32 PM (#1835640)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: leeneia

Thanks for posting the words, Poppagator. I just tried singing them to the tune, and they work well.

It's good to ask people to sing to tunes they already know. Of course this air has the drawback of an unusually wide range.

15 Sep 06 - 07:04 PM (#1835656)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

>It sounds like a nice song but why put it to Danny Boy...

If it helps, think of it as rather being put to the
London derriere.

>There was a feeling among liturgists that this was getting out of hand >and sometimes lasting over an hour and getting into matters that just >didn't fit into a funeral Mass,

Pardon my cynicism, but I'm as Catholic and trained in it as Joe,
and I'll counter with some liturgists wanting to not have to work
that extra hour for their $200.00 honorarium lest they be late
for a golf date, or not have the Church tied up the extra time.

It's not unusual to have two hour fal-de-ral for a holiday at
some ordinary parishes or to weave an extra hour of stuff
when both the liturgist and the congregation cares to.

I've found that the 'average' liturgist finds a way to avoid doing
something when it requires extra thought or effort on his part...
mostly they sound like they're phoning it in.

Course this is the guy who probably couldn't show up to
give the departed Last Rites either, unless they had the
good grace to snuff it on 'his' day at the hospital.

15 Sep 06 - 07:17 PM (#1835662)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: lesblank

My apologies for being so dense -- just what is the reason for the Church's prohibiting "Danny Boy" being sung ???

15 Sep 06 - 07:24 PM (#1835663)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

Aspects of Catholicism lend themselves to obsessive-compulsive behavior for one. mg

15 Sep 06 - 08:28 PM (#1835687)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Well, Les, the plain-and-simple answer is that the Catholic Church requires religious songs for religious services, and "Danny Boy" is not a religious song (notwithstanding the fact that it does say that the singer will pray for Danny after he's dead). It's a nice, old, sentimental song that a lot of people like, but it has nothing to do with liturgical worship. However, most Catholic parishes allow it to be sung before Mass, or after the main part of the Mass is over.
The general idea of a Catholic funeral is that it is supposed to be a joyful celebration of a coming home to the Lord after death, recognizing and consoling the grief and loss of those left behind but conveying a message of hope and faith in a life hereafter. "Danny Boy" is a nice song, but it doesn't convey that message.
This is a change from the mournful, sorrowful, fearful tone of the "requiem" Mass of the past, which spoke in medieval terms of "that day of wrath, that dreadful day." The new approach is more consistent with a traditional Catholic faith and theology that pre-dates the somber tones of medieval and Victorian times.
Sorry you have such a cynical view of the situation, Les er, Greg. I think I'd agree with those who say that an extra hour of testimonials as part of an already hour-long funeral Mass is too much. Most parishes I've seen try to keep it down to ten or fifteen minutes at the end of Mass, and then allow for more at the reception in the church hall afterwards - or at the graveside. That allows an opportunity for a gracious exit for those who can't stay longer. Yes, I've known liturgists and priests whose primary concern is to get the damn thing over and get out on the golf links - but my experience is that most of them try their best to do a good job with good taste and with compassion for the people involved. I was in a Catholic seminary for 8 years and majored in Theology, and I've served as a catechist and church musician for over 40 years, so I have a fair amount of experience - most of it good.
-Joe Offer-

15 Sep 06 - 09:05 PM (#1835703)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: mg

HOw can it possibly be joyful when all of us go to purgatory and at least some are said to go to hell..? And what was wrong with the dies ire? mg

15 Sep 06 - 09:12 PM (#1835706)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Mary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Purgatory a "state of purification" to prepare one for entrance into Heaven. Most of our concept of Purgatory comes from Dante's Purgatorio. I prefer the idea of purgatory presented in The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which is quite possibly more consistent with Catholic doctrine. I suppose Hitler and a few other truly evil people may be in Hell, but logic tells me that most ordinary people don't fit into the Hitler category.
-Joe Offer-

15 Sep 06 - 09:58 PM (#1835727)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: lesblank

Joe: I fail to see how asking a simple question in good faith implies a cynical view of the situation. Methinks you may be a bit sensitive.

15 Sep 06 - 10:20 PM (#1835732)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Mick

Les, I think Joe thought he was responding to Greg, not you.

And thanks, Joe, for bringing a balanced and thoughtful response to some of the cynics here.


15 Sep 06 - 11:45 PM (#1835763)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral

This is a load of crap. The Roman Catholic Church has NOT banned the singing of Danny Boy at funerals. I was at a Roman Catholic funeral in St. Paul, MN (as Roman Catholic a town as they come in the Protestant dominated Upper Midwest) a week ago yesterday. Deceased, the father of one of my oldest friends, was very Irish American, very Catholic. and very active as a lay leader in his church up until the month before he succumbed to lung cancer at age 90.

Not only did the choir spontaneously perform Danny Boy in his honor at mass the Sunday morning after he passed--completely unbeknown to his surviving family in the pews--but the song was sung as a solo at the funeral mass, per request of the deceased family. As was Ave Maria.

Now, I know we're a liberal diocese here, but I'm quite sure if any edicts had been handed down by the Vatican on the performance of Danny Boy and Ave Maria at funeral masses here, we wouldn't be hearing them performed at nearly every fucking Catholic funeral for people over 75 for as long as I can remember.

But it is certainly a popular urban myth that the church has "banned" the performance of this music at funerals masses.

But perhaps some of the Catholic faithful around here, bunch of old pontificating windbags that they are, didn't get the email about that.

15 Sep 06 - 11:58 PM (#1835768)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Mick

Perhaps it would do you well to read for comprehension before blasting off. No one said the Church (as in the whole Roman Catholic Church). Here is what was said:

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks five years ago, a number of highly public funerals (e.g., for NYC police and firefighters) featured the singing of "Danny Boy," or at least the instrumental performance of its melody, also (originally?) known as "The Londonderry Air." The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, along with some but not all other US dioceses, responded with a ban on the use of this song at all Catholic services, because of its "secular" nature.

The parish you were in very likely did as you say, but I will bet a fair amount of money, a harp I don't like anyway, and toss in a cat that I don't like either, that it was not within the context of the Mass, but after Communion. No one said the Vatican issued an edict.

Hop off the horse.


15 Sep 06 - 11:58 PM (#1835769)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral

PS, the only intolerance about music fight with religious bigots I ever had was with a Protestant organist, who refused to play Ave Maria at my mother's Lutheran memorial service. Since my mother had sung the song Ave Maria at all her sisters' weddings (1 was Catholic, the other two Protestant, and all took place in the late 1930s/early 1940s) this was a deal breaker for us. We fired his ass, and found another very lovely organist (also Lutheran, and appalled at the guy's refusal) who did a bang up job. When we queried the minister about it, she (yes, she) responded that they allow whatever songs/pieces the family requests in their memorial services. So it was this one fundie sort who deemed the performance of "Catholic" music unseemly, even though this was a nursing home chapel that performed both Catholic and Protestant memorial services regularly for deceased residents.

So Poppagator, it may well be there never was a "ban" on Danny Boy, but that your aunties just felt their version of it to be "more appropriate" and blamed it on the priest. Nice, passive aggressive little old ladies do that sort of thing all the time so they don't have to take criticism for a choice they make but fear might have some backlash attached.

16 Sep 06 - 04:26 AM (#1835832)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Sorry, Les. It was Greg's comment about liturgists in a hurry to play golf that I was responding to. But sometimes I get confused...

In general, I have to say that there aren't major problems with music in most weddings and funerals. The musician usually offers the family a list of songs to choose from, and the family makes their choices. Sometimes, there's a request for something else, and sometimes those requests are rejected - but more often they're accepted or a reasonable substitute offered.

Our choir director was asked to sing Our Lady of Knock at an Irish-American funeral a couple of weeks ago. She didn't know it and thought it was corny, but she learned it - and she was thrilled by the warm reception the family gave her singing. I think the song is corny, too - but I'd probably agree to sing it. I kinda like corny songs.


16 Sep 06 - 04:55 AM (#1835846)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Pistachio

Years ago I was asked if I'd be prepared to sing Danny Boy at a funeral (for a 'grandfather' who was /is currently alive). Should I get the 'call to sing I'll be able to take 'alternative' words just in case there are any 'objections'!
Many thanks for your most informative posts Joe. If I go to church I feel comfortable there, after a childhood of being taken every Sunday. I'm not 'a believer' and anyone may call me a hypocrite but when I find myself in a church I show due respect and sing out loud and clear.
The great thing with Danny boy/Londonderry air is that many people know it. It is so sad when unfamiliar hymns are chosen and only very few voices carry the tune.

16 Sep 06 - 07:13 AM (#1835886)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: JamesHenry

"Danny Boy" at Catholic funeral.

And him a good Protestant!

16 Sep 06 - 07:54 AM (#1835900)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Al Whittle

Perhaps its an Irish thing rather than a catholic thing. I know one bloke who has a folk group and refuses to play Fields of Athenry - cos he says its a rebel song. He won't play Flower of Scotland either for the same reason.

Another Irishman (also a folksinger) - I met him after a funeral and he was really scandalised because a friend had had Boulavogue played over his grave.

I think maybe they are a tad touchy about songs in a way that we aren't.

16 Sep 06 - 08:37 AM (#1835924)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Mick

A dear young friend of mine, Bob Myles, suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. He had lived much longer than was expected of young folks suffering from this horrid disease. Married beautiful Lisa, had 4 kids. I miss him today. One of his last requests was that I sing "Green Fields of France" at the funeral mass. The priest had no problems with it, and I sang it after communion during the time of reflection. Bless that boy's heart, I miss him today.

16 Sep 06 - 08:58 AM (#1835939)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Leadfingers

As far as I know , priests have a lot of leeway in what is 'allowed' at their churches , so one parish will have a totally different point
to another ! And there are Fundamentalists and Bigots all over the place !!

16 Sep 06 - 12:54 PM (#1836042)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,Tam

Flower of Scotland a rebel song?

16 Sep 06 - 03:20 PM (#1836144)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

The way the pecking order works in the Catholic Church is this:
  • The local bishop controls anything that Rome chooses not to control
  • The local pastor controls anything that the local bishop chooses not to control
  • The lay people get what's left, and the pope, bishop, and pastor have the right to veto just about anything not specifically directed from the levels above.
The neoconservatives are rarely willing to accept anything unless it comes from Rome, and even then they often question any pronouncement made after 1950. We have neocons trying to contradict the pastor's choice of altar wine, the lyrics of songs we sing from Catholic hymnals (specific target now are phrases [tropes] added to the "Lamb of God" song), and the pastor's decision that we should stand and sing together during communion (rather than kneeling). Another interesting aspect of the neoconservatives is their distrust of priests and nuns and American bishops who don't come from specifically neoconservative roots. they liked John Paul II, but aren't sure about any other pope since Pius X (1903-1914).
As for "Danny Boy," I guess I'm six on one side, half a dozen on the other. I don't want it sung at MY funeral, but I don't mind it - but I wouldn't argue with a pastor or bishop who didn't want to have it sung, because there's no theological or liturgical justification for including it in a Mass other that the fact that some people like it. I think I'd draw the line at Neil Diamond songs, though. I don't care if "Holly Holy" and "I am...I said" sound religious to some folks. Next thing you know, they'll want "Cracklin' Rosie."

16 Sep 06 - 06:24 PM (#1836286)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Matt_R

This doesn't bode well for my idea to have "The Dark Isle" and Morricone's theme to "Once Upon a Time In The West" played at my funeral.

16 Sep 06 - 06:33 PM (#1836295)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: MartinRyan


Re "Boolavogue" - just tell 'em it's real name is "Youghal Harbour".


p.s. Or, if it's not a Catholic church, say it's a particularly slow version of "Sweet Omagh Town"!

16 Sep 06 - 06:35 PM (#1836296)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Mick


16 Sep 06 - 06:35 PM (#1836297)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: MartinRyan

Little not Kettle! Apologies,


16 Sep 06 - 07:30 PM (#1836316)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: mg

Why in the world should we stand after communion? I won't. It is one too many rules. Lots of people won't either. And the lyrics of most of the newer songs are abysmal, as are the rhythms, which are not natural, going from 3/2 to 6/7 etc. And the tunes are tuneless and that kind of music attracts people who can stand it and say no more. THe music is like having someone let a bad smell into the church, say like a skunk, and then they say you have bad attitude, and probably are committing a great sin, for daring to bring it up. There are neofascists running music committees these days.

Well, I never said Danny BOy should be played in Mass...on the way out is good enough to send the dear departed along. As for me, I always wanted the Dies Ires sung like we sang in fourth grade. If it was good enough for my great grandparents, some of whom probably had to have services in the blackthorn bushes, it is good enough for me. mg

16 Sep 06 - 09:02 PM (#1836353)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

Sorry for my cynicism Joe.

My resume runs like this:

12 years of Catholic school.

College degree in Religious Studies.

Worked as youth- and liturgical music minister.

Very active liturgy planner at a place where 2-hour
liturgies were not uncommon.

Candidate for a religous order.

Only the last five years I've spent as an active advocate
for the survivors (and victims) of sexual abuse by priests
who, when they weren't playing golf or getting blind drunk
at the 19th hole, were diddling little boys and girls and
vulnerable adults.

My view of the clergy at large is very, very, cynical. And
that view extends well beyond those who actually molested/abused to
those who knew, and protected them, transferred them, and
coddled them while throwing the victims out with the trash.
The ordained life in Catholicism, far from being a burden,
is one of tremendous privilege and security, far more than
the ordinary 'working class' will ever know. It is one
where there is remarkably little accountability in a downwards

Every 'good' priest I know would rejoice in the opportunity
to keep people in church, thinking about the matter at hand,
for two hours. And at the opportunity to connect the liturgical
with the life that is being celebrated. As opposed to rushing
to the parking lot, having received their weekly rubber stamp
(at least those who still show up).

When my friend's father was dying, guess who showed up for
the lifelong Catholic and loyal (albeit not rich) parishioner?
The parish priest? Hell no. The Baptist African-American woman
chaplain from hospice. He got communion maybe once in six weeks,
but saw her weekly. When he passed, the parish's only contact
was through the funeral home...asking for $1500 or so bucks
to have the funeral Mass said there by Fr. McBucks. The
memorial service was presided over by that kindly woman,
in the conference room of his attorney, a family friend.

My own grandfather's experience wasn't much different. 30
years in the parish, 4th Degree Knight, countless volunteer
hours before he became frail and a few years passed and it
was 'what have you done for me lately?'

'Going My Way' is definitely an old movie, and just a movie.

Oh, and of the clergy to whom I was personally close, well
one molested about three dozen little girls. His golf buddy
acrosss town abused two brothers, one of whom became schizo
and chopped off his hand which "kept him from the kindom of
heaven." Their other body the next town over did both boys
and girls, about twenty at last count. Another taught us
yoga, then not much later was the first person I knew who died of
AIDS caught from his partner. Another broke the seal of the
confessional to break up a relationship because he was
interested in the young man, while my own spiritual director
conspired with the latter priest to 'leak' info to the
young man, during which time said spiritual director was
carrying on an abusive relationship with a peer of mine
starting at age 16. He waited until I was 19 to make his
attempt on me, by which time I didn't fall for it. And my
other mentor, well he JUST set up housekeeping with a 19-year-old
young man (Mike must be 55) who came to him in his parish
for counseling. The priest who took over from the first priest
had an affair with a deceased friend of mine when he was a
young priest, bought a condo with her to shack up in, the
persuaded her to quit-claim it to him for zero dollars (we
have the public records). She said he extorted sex from her
by threatening to put her on the street. She lived there till
she died, and he still owns it, to the tune of a half a million
in capital gains. HE was the one who refused to take the first
priest's name off the parish center when asked (even thought
the diocese admitted the abuses). Oh, and at my high school
the band teacher (Holy Cross) abused two different boys. When
one of them went to the chaplain, later promoted to principal
for help, the chaplain 'helped' by sodomizing the 14-year-old.

And while we're at it, I give you Bishop Daniel Walsh of
Santa Rosa, who violated state reporting laws (which he
himself signed off as knowing) by delaying reporting of
Fr. Xavier Ochoa to law enforcement when said priest
admitted abusing boys...with four other priests in the
room. All five of these mandatory reporters failed to
report for several days. Ochoa is now safely out of reach
in Mexico. And Walsh is pulling political strings to avoid

Yeah, these guys are the very 'flower' of American male-ness
and I take at face value the motivations for everything they

Some priest friends of mine are so disgusted that they've
gone into exile (Tim Stier, of Fremont, Ca.) from their
work, retired (Fr. Ken Lasch) or actually sued for their
own sexual abuse in seminary/religious formation (Fr. Robert

I have a feeling that when Ken came to my house for a dining-
room table liturgy to celebrate the life of my late Uncle Vince
he'd have let me sing 'Danny Boy' if I'd wanted to. He likes
Irish music. Only Vince was English. Probably would have
sat through that Prot hymn 'Jersusalem' even. He was quite
amused when the cat sat quietely in the other room until it
was time for communion, then quietly walked over and waited
at has feet!

Oh...if anyone here has been abused by a priest or religious,
give me a shout...I have the right connections to get you the
help and support you deserve.

So the straight-up answer, is that if Fr. McFeely won't let
you sing 'Danny Boy' at your Irish father's funeral, then
it has to more with his being an officious prick who wants
to get through another lame-ass rubber-stamp liturgy which
intrudes in his schedule than any other reason. And if Pa
left a half a million to the parish, and his new Mercedes
to McFeely you'd be able to sing 'Kick the Pope' while he
processed up the aisle in an orange stole.

16 Sep 06 - 09:17 PM (#1836368)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

Speaking of the pope, isn't it odd that the new one just managed to insult the Muslim world? Surely he has PR people who could have spelled this out for him. Surely he knows we are at war with elements there....mg

17 Sep 06 - 12:21 AM (#1836427)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral

Surely the Catholic church is as fucked up as it's ever been.

Some things never change. The deep hypocrisy of the church is one of those things which do seem to abide.

17 Sep 06 - 03:40 AM (#1836467)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Well, if you want to look for the dark side of anything, you won't have to look hard. You may even find it in yourself. All of us have flaws - if that's what you're looking for, you're sure to find them. Yes, there are plenty of screwed-up priests, just like there are plenty of screwed-up people in every profession.
Plenty of good ones, too.
Yes, there's hypocrisy everywhere, too. Maybe it's best to ignore it, or to look to people who aren't hypocritical.
Greg, I'm sure your experiences are related accurately, but I think you're describing a relatively small portion of the picture. I'm sorry that it's the only part of the picture that you've experienced.
I suppose it's that old Weltanschauung thing coming up again. You can believe that most people in the world are good, and you'd be right. You can believe that most people in the world are bad - and you'd be right on that, too. The "good" perspective works better for me.

17 Sep 06 - 06:47 AM (#1836538)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Keith A of Hertford

Guest Mick asked,
Is this the 21st centuary or the dark ages?

21st century since what Mick?

17 Sep 06 - 08:42 AM (#1836579)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave the Gnome

I like unusual songs at funerals. My mate had 'Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye' played at his Mums. Didn't half lighten the mood. One which had the congregation in outright laughter though was at my Uncle Denis's funeral. At his request they played the theme from 'The Great Escape'. :-)

In answer to questions about the Catholic church and the Pope - You didn't seriously think that the Catholic church would stand by while the Moslem Mullahs captured all the attention did you? No - You can be pretty sure that any statement of the Popes is quite deliberate. Not saying who is right or wrong but what is good for the goose is good for the gander;-)



17 Sep 06 - 09:39 AM (#1836603)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Nigel Parsons

And now, returning you to the music!

Avoid upsetting the priest, ask for a hymn which uses the same air (from an earlier post by Joe)

From: Joe Offer - PM
Date: 29 Aug 98 - 02:48 PM

Well, that was easier to find than I expected. Westminster Abbey (click here) has a very interesting Web site, and they still have Princess Diana's funeral program posted. You'll find full information about the song you requested there, and I think you may be able to find some discussion about it if you enter a phrase from the song in our forum search (or, click here). I'll post the lyrics here for you, too.
-Joe Offer-

The prayers will conclude with the offering of a prayer for the congregation, after which the choristers will sing:

I would be true, for there are those that trust me.
I would be pure for there are those that care.
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer.
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
I would be friend of all, the foe, the friendless.
I would be giving, and forget the gift.
I would be humble, for I know my weakness,
I would look up, laugh. love and live.

Air from County Derry in G - Petrie; The Ancient Music of Ireland (1853), commonly known as 'O Danny Boy'

17 Sep 06 - 10:28 AM (#1836631)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Joe_Offer - it's been nice reading your replies here. I no longer practise as a Catholic but once raised in that faith, one is often "culturally Catholic" for the rest of their life. I was part of my own Parish's music ministry from the time I could play a child-sized guitar. being born in 1964, I came of age at the height of the Catholic Folk-Mass. Even then when things were considered to be "looser" in format, we still had the rules you describe.

Anyway - in our family, the place for Danny boy was at the Funeral Home on the last night of the Wake or at the semi-formal banquet which followed the service at the cemetry. For Irish-Americans, there areplanty of places and moments during the standard funeral tradtions to insert a favorite old tune outside of the Mass.

As for nice hymns to sing at a Funeral mass - I've always been partial to 'Wherever You Go" by Gregopry Norbet formerly of Weston Priory. Even though it was written as a wedding song, it is appropriate at funerals.

These days I hear two selections from Faure's requiem at funeral masses: Sanctus and In Paradisium. The In Paradisium is the same section of the Mass that the Danny Boy tune is used for and is usually the recessional. it's a very lovely and peaceful way to end a Funeral Mass. if you aren't familiar with the work, I recommend it. It's not at all sad and ponderous. The music is angelic. By the time the In Paradisium plays, you feel as if a great weight has slipped off your back and you are floating. I've sung the the choir for this piece in concert several times and it's a very moving experience.

18 Sep 06 - 12:03 AM (#1837122)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

I like "Wherever You Go," too. It's a wonderful expression of fidelity. It's actually the words of (pagan) Ruth to her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi. After she was widowed, Ruth pledged to stand by and support her husband's mother:
    Wherever you go, I shall go,
    Wherever you live, so shall I live.
    Your people will be my people,
    And your God will be my God, too.

    Wherever you die, I shall die,
    And there shall I be buried beside you.
    We will be together forever,
    And our love will be the gift of our life.
    (Gregory Norbet, paraphrased from the Book of Ruth)

I don't want to deny the bad Catholic church experiences people have expressed here. I've had my share of them, too; and I've spend a lot of time working to try to ensure that things are done in the Church with justice and compassion. Part of the reason why I lost my job as parish adult education director this summer was that I was smeared unfairly (and incorrectly) by a fundamentalist priest from another parish, who claimed I was teaching heresy. It hurt. I'm not quite sure what my function in the parish is now, but I no longer get a paycheck.

On the other hand, I work for four nuns at a center for impoverished women, and it's a wonderful place. Aroung the corner is the headquarters of a very effective and extensive food bank network, founded by a Catholic priest. On the other side of downtown Sacramento is a dining room and care center for the homeless, founded by a former priest and directed by a nun. All of these are well-run charities with roots in the Catholic Church, staffed by volunteers from many denominations.

So, while I've had bad experiences, most of what I've encountered is good - or else I've worked to make it good.


18 Sep 06 - 06:49 AM (#1837244)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: pavane

Just a note on Danny Boy:

The words were written c1910 by an Englishman, Fred Weatherly, and I do not know whether he was a Catholic or not (Quite probably not). There is also no evidence that he ever visited Ireland.

So it should not be at all controversial (Unless you object to ENGLISH songs!)

There is also no evidence as to WHO is supposed to be singing to Danny.

18 Sep 06 - 07:15 AM (#1837256)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Wilfried Schaum

A problem that does not touch me as a non-Catholic and non-Irish.
I always thought that Danny Boy is played as a remembrance of an Irish origin and coherence, and since a lot (most of?) Irishmen are Catholic the song naturally is played at Catholic burials.
It surely is no part of a service. But many people (over here, too) like their favourite song performed at their burial as a last being together with their surviving friends joined in a common beloved song.
So why can't you have performed a secualar song at the grave when the service is ended with the blessing issued?

18 Sep 06 - 07:46 AM (#1837268)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Wilfried Schaum - The original post didn't suggest that the song was forbidden at the graveside service, just as part of the Funeral mass which is a formalised, set-down thing as joe described. The graveside service also has a formal part to it but once the priest has finished, if he has no objection, families often have someone sing Danny Boy or some other secular song.

Irish-American funerals have several traditional parts of them outside of the Mass and Graveside prayer but as time in this country (USA) has gone by and families assimilate, those traditions tend to fall away. then all you have is the adult children's memories of Danny Boy being sung "at the funeral" and they think the Church has issued some new prohibition when their request is refused. Also, after generations of intermarriage and seeing secular songs sung inside less orthodox churches, the adult children don't see the reason for the denial of their request. One would assume that any practising Catholic or even lapsed Catholic who once attended Mass regularly would know why such songs aren't permitted, but with time away from the Church and distance from it's Liturgy, such things get foggy.

Formal Irish Wakes that used to have 2 or 3 nights with 2 sessions each night are now often collapsed into one night of 2 sessions or one session entirely. This leaves little room for secular songs since there is a formal liturgy for the wake as well. Also, many Irish-Catholic families no longer live in the same city and have to forego the post-graveside service supper where such songs are traditionally welcomed. I used to think the 3 day Wake plus Mass, plus Burial plus supper was overdoing it, but as I get older, I find those traditions comforting. In our family, it would be a scandal to Wake a person in one day. Often the same people come all three nights but not to both sessions.

In summary, if you know of anyone who may have a surprise over Danny Boy waiting for them come time to bury their father, suggest to them that they mention including Danny Boy to the Funeral Director at the initial consultation. If they use and Irish funeral home, the director will be able to give them some good options. I also find having the Funeral Home plan the Supper at a nearby restaurant can result in a more meaningful event. Plus, they often have discount arrangements with the caterer and can hire you appropriate musicans.

Which reminds me, those of you muscians who might want to seek an opprtunity to be paid to sing such songs at a Memorial Supper, the gravseide service or at a Wake should consider providing your local Funeral homes with some samples of your repertoire and let them know you are available for such bookings. Directors also like to know about local harpists and pipers.

18 Sep 06 - 09:09 AM (#1837344)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Nigel Parsons

As to who is singing to Danny, I would go for the option of a lover. This Thread discusses the singer, and there I have added the alternate lyrics provided by the author (Fred Weatherly) to be used when sung by a man.
The fact that he intended 'Danny Boy' to be sung by a woman, or 'Eily Dear' to be sung by a man seems to make it clear that it is neither parental, nor filial love he was writing about.


18 Sep 06 - 09:15 AM (#1837351)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral

Is the Pope still infallible ?   Surely he should have realised that by making a totally accurate statement it would proke extremists to act. And of course, they did, by shooting an Italian nun in Somalia. Q.E.D.

18 Sep 06 - 09:42 PM (#1837907)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B


>All of us have flaws - if that's what you're looking for, you're sure >to find them.

I'll take my flaws, thanks.

Buggering little boys and teenage men, then getting up the
next morning and saying Mass isn't among them. Nor is covering
up and issuing apologias for those who do. Nor diddling adolescent

Nor have I taken a vow of celibacy, then broken it at every turn.

But hey, I'm not perfect.

So since I'm not perfect, I guess I ought to be forgiving of all
the forgoing and overlook it, eh wot?

Last time I checked it was 'If you love me, feed my sheep.' Not
'do my sheep.'


18 Sep 06 - 11:34 PM (#1837958)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Hey, I don'ty even go to Catholic mass anymore ut I still feel discussions of Catholic music and use of music at Cahtolic services shouldn't get bogged down by issues people have with the Church. I have plenty of them which is why I don't worship there any more but I prefer to make my personal views on issues such as the Sex Abuse scandal in BS threads where they belong.

The truth is, the Music Ministry here in the US has been largely handled by the Layity for 3 generations. Since this is so, it isn't constructive to talk about issues of Clergy misbehavior in such threads. Joe_Offer has been a consistent and excellent source of information, documentation and historical context on Catholic music and I hope he continues to feel free to offer such incites and info.

19 Sep 06 - 09:05 AM (#1838242)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,Essex Girl sans cookie

I attended an Irish catholic funeral yesterday, where we all sang Lord of the Dance and then the cortege left the church to a recording of Danny Boy. No one objected.

19 Sep 06 - 02:08 PM (#1838461)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

Well, I do go to Catholic mass and one of the issues I do have with the church is how awful the music is. I also cringe at the thought that the very same people (perhaps) who covered up the abuse scandales, allowed the priests to keep serving, etc. etc. are the same ones who forbid the singing of Danny Boy. Not that I usually mind hypocracy, and I do believe it serves a societal purpuse, but this is too much.   And I don't think many people expect it to be in the mass itself, only like on the way out. mg

19 Sep 06 - 04:12 PM (#1838587)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Well, Mary, I have to say that you're generalizing, which makes it very hard to carry on a discussion with you. I will agree that some modern Catholic songs have lyrics that are silly, but that's certainly not the case with many of them. In fact, many of the most-used hymns have texts that come directly from Scripture.

And yes, some bishops covered up sex abuse, and some priests and bishops were and are guilty of sex abuse. More often the situation was that the bishops did not handle the sex abuse as well as it should have been handled. And the fact of the matter is, nobody has come up with a perfect answer to the problem of sex abuse. Right now, the bishops are in a zero-tolerance crackdown mode, but the trouble with zero-tolerance is that innocent people end up getting punished in the shuffle, and a zero-tolerance policy fails to distinguish between minor indiscretions and major offenses. Yes, the Catholic Church handled the sex abuse scandal badly - but nobody has handled it well.

And you know, even child molestors and Republicans can make reasonable judgments about church music at times.

And, as has been stated before, what usually happens is that "Danny Boy" and other secular songs are prohibited within the Mass itself, but permitted before or after the Mass. But child molesting and what the pope says about Islam have nothing to do with church music at all. I suppose, though, that this sort of approach is part of our culture nowadays - if we can find anything at all wrong with another person, they we feel justified in condemning all his thoughts and actions as worthless. If he cuts his toenails wrong, then there's no way he can make competent judgments on anything.

-Joe Offer-

19 Sep 06 - 05:58 PM (#1838651)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,mg

Well, I'll get ten years in purgatory, but those are the worst songs..the ones they took from Scripture. They are exactly the ones I am talking about. They do not sound like music. I have really only heard a couple of reasonably good or good songs that are new ever. One is I am the bread of life. Can't remember what the other was. And I could never understand how come the Spanish-language songs never got ruined like the English ones did. They still have pretty songs in musical rhythms etc. Honest, if anyone thinks I am exaggerating, go to your nearest Catholic church. I have tried ear plugs in mine, sitting in the baby room, ...we have two exceptionally bad singing women who screech, and not only sing the maximum allowed but make you sit through their rehearsals before Mass etc. It is a serious problem. If I had any choice in the matter I would never darken the doors again but I don't think I should. mg

19 Sep 06 - 08:53 PM (#1838733)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Well, Mary, I have to say the modern Catholic songs I hate are the ones that have buzzwords and pop psychology terms. This one contains neither, but I think it's silly nonetheless. Actually, I like four of the five verses, but the third verse of the "Servant Song" makes me call it the "Preposition Song":

    Above, below, and around me,
    Before, behind, and all through me,
    Your Spirit moves deep within me,
    Fire my life with your love...
That's EIGHT prepositions in four lines. Is this worship, or English grammar class?
But gee, if you don't like scripture in hymns, maybe you should try a non-theistic religion, hey?
-Joe Offer-

19 Sep 06 - 11:18 PM (#1838793)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: mg

Wrong answer. We didn't use to have scripture in hymns and they were just fine. I never had one complaint, except for Pange Lingua and more than one Gregorian Chant per week. Scripture can be read and it sounds fine. It really has not been put to music satisfactorly ...what I have heard. mg

19 Sep 06 - 11:29 PM (#1838797)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

I learned a great deal from this thread

Perhaps, an area divided into:
Orthodox Catholic
Greek Ortho
Muslum - (Lord help us don't go there with 99 versions of visions of virgins)
Green People

Some are called to all.

JOE - a Most SINCERE Thank You!

I gained insight, compassion and understanding (and perhaps, a few scheckles in the long run)


20 Sep 06 - 12:50 AM (#1838826)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Big Al Whittle

Yeah great idea. Finish off with a chorus song - they always go down well.

1) If you're Jewish and you know it, clap your hands (clap! clap!)
2) If you're Orthodox Catholic and you know it (clap! clap!)
and so on

Pehaps an encore of I'm a believer!

(Agnostics can be exempted - if they can prove they are not now, nor ever have been - a member of the Monkees Fan Club.)

20 Sep 06 - 11:04 AM (#1839173)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

Those who're sick of a certain genre of music will enjoy this
site: Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, or SMMMHDH

I was a liturgical musician through the late 70's and the 80's,
and have to admit to ownership of a very tattered G&P Vol 1.

A fine training ground in ensemble playing before a relatively
friendly audience.

Speaking of audiences, whenver the group got really good someone
would complain that it seemed more like a 'performance.' We'd
tell them that we'd make a concerted effort to suck next week.
You know, get four guitars (three of 'em twelve strings) all
playing wonka-wonka-wonka rhythms, turn all the D-chords into
D-major, bring in a flute player that hadn't played (or tuned)
since junior high...

That fixed 'em.

20 Sep 06 - 01:03 PM (#1839299)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Greb_B - you made me laugh. We used to get the same thing. If we permitted one person to solo a verse or did finger picking as opposed to basic strumming, we'd often be told that we were there to accompany and not to "perform". however, the people telling us this were the folks from the Traditional Choir or the lady who got paod to play the organ at the next Mass. Folk mass was limited to Saturdays at 6Pm and Sundays at 9Am.

Mg- most RC churches offer an early mass with no music at all. If yout home Parish doesn't have one, you can always suggest one or go to a nearby Parish that does. These are usually sparsely attended because of the early hour but I enjoyed them. Straight Liturgy and very little else. Most of the folks who liked that Mass were older or objected to things such as Communion in the hand and overly friendly Sign of the Peace, people raising their arms during the Lord's Prayer etcs. The early Mass was always a refuge of tradition. My mother who objects to none of those modern things enjoys early Mass because she feels it allows her a deeper meditation on the sacrament. No distractions - just her and The Lord.

The Parishes near me still do early Mass at 6Am on weekdays and at 7:30 Am sat & Sunday. You might find that you like such a Mass. I know our local Parish is always pleased to have more members attend at early Mass. Here in Los Angeles, a lot of folks like to go to early Mass in the summer on Sundays because the older Churches don't have air conditioning. Just a suggestion.

21 Sep 06 - 03:52 AM (#1839756)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,Rowan

I can recall visiting a friend who was playing the organ at St Pat's Cathedral (Melbourne) about 40 years ago. In the organ loft was a music book with the title "Sacred and Profane" or words to that effect. With only a secular knowledge of the use of the word "profane" I enquired of him why such music would be allowed in a catholic cathedral. I can't remember his exact words but the sense of his reply was very much along the lines that Joe Offer has so eloquently explained, above.

Ta muchly, Rowan

21 Sep 06 - 06:43 AM (#1839846)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Nigel Parsons

Joe:, the 'preposition hymn' as you call it seems to have good antecedents. So it can hardly be considered a 'modern' problem.

I am particularly thinking of one verse of "St Patrick's Breastplate" (C F Alexander 1889)

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Do I see a similarity here?


22 Sep 06 - 04:26 AM (#1840603)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

I could say touche', Nigel - but I won't. There's a very fine line between the ridiculous and the sublime. "St. Patrick's Breastplate" does indeed have lots of prepositions - but it works.
Look at my "Preposition Song" again and see the difference:
    Above, below, and around me,
    Before, behind, and all through me,
    Your Spirit moves deep within me,
    Fire my life with your love...
"Patrick" is profound. "Preposition," to me, is ridiculous. I think part of the beauty is in "Patrick's" parallel structure, a device that has been used very artfully in hymns all the way back to the Psalms. "Preposition" is just that - an unordered list of prepositions.

22 Sep 06 - 08:22 AM (#1840731)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

>Mg- most RC churches offer an early mass with no music at all.

Just the snoring. I kid you not...the snoring. As an altar
boy you seem to see an hear everything :-)


22 Sep 06 - 09:57 AM (#1840802)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: paddymac

Lots of good commentary in this thread, and then lots of other - verbiage, as well. The problem is abuse of power, and it is not limited to the religious folks, nor to any one variety thereof. Not all of history's Hitlers wear swastikas.

22 Sep 06 - 11:26 AM (#1840875)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Joe_Offer, St. Patrick's breastplate IS profound and I elieve it is also a paraphrase of the Scripture about Spiritual Armour. Isn't that in Ephesians? I'm nor near a Bile so I can't look. Sorry. I think it's Ephesians 6, verses 14 through.. I don't know. I recall that verse mentions a breastplate and girding yourself. Maybe it's verses 11 through 14.. I'm just not with it today. apologies

04 Oct 06 - 01:18 AM (#1849821)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: PoppaGator

I'd just like to reiterate what I was trying to say in my original post, and perhaps express myself more clearly:

I was pleasantly surprised to learn ~ at my own mother's memorial Mass ~ that a highly appropriate, undeniably religious, and linguistically graceful set of lyrics is available to be sung to the familiar melody of "Danny Boy" (aka "The Londonderry Air"). I wish I had been given advance notice, and had been better prepared to participate in the singing; as it happened, I didn't realize until the third or fourth line that the words being sung were in fact printed in the program.

I would respectfully suggest that, in those jurisdictions where the secular "Danny Boy" lyrics are forbidden, that parishioners be made aware of this option and be encouraged to consider singing the "In Paradisum" translation, using the popular and familiar melody that they love.

An aside, on the subject of "folk mass" liturgical music:

Back in the early days of post-Vatican-II liturgical reform, a very popular new hymn (and a personal favorite of mine) was "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love." Anyone remember that old guitar-mass favorite? After just a few short years, it suddenly seemed to fall into disfavor, and was pretty much never heard again. It seemed to me that the lyric's very explicit embrace of ecumenicism, its expression of solidarity with all Christians (including, heaven forbid, non-Catholics), were deemed offensive by the reactionary forces who took over the Church after the death of Pope John XXIII and attempted to roll back as many of his reforms as possible. That era, incidentally, marked the beginning of the end of my personal involvement with institutional Catholicism...

04 Oct 06 - 01:59 AM (#1849833)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Hi, PoppaGator - "They'll Know We Are Christians," by Peter Scholtes, was published in 1966 by F.E.L. Publications. FEL was a bit heavy-handed in pursuing copyright infringement lawsuits against parishes and dioceses. they won lots of money in the lawsuits, but soon fell out of popularity and went out of business. Rights to their songs were apparently bought up by the Lorenz Corporation, but most FEL songs dropped out of sight. Other publishers had come to the forefront with songs that were more musically sophisticated (and less tied to three chords).

"They'll Know We Are Christians" is one FEL song that's still in use, although it's probably considered a second-tier song by most parishes. It's in the hymnals of both major U.S. Catholic publishers, OCP and GIA.

It's a good song, and I know it by heart, but it does seem kind of "dated" nowadays. I sing it maybe once or twice a year - although I'll use it more often when I'm leading singing for Masses where there is no accompaniment, when I'm looking for a good, strong song that most people know.


04 Oct 06 - 05:25 PM (#1850526)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: GUEST,Paddy the Greek

Two points:
Adolf Hitler was a devout Catholic..
Best not call it 'Londonderry' at a Catholic funeral..

04 Oct 06 - 06:06 PM (#1850558)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Er...at one time, Adolf Hitler may have been a devout Catholic. I think you'll find he did not attend Mass with any regularity after he entered politics, and regular attendance at Sunday Mass is a usual measure of a Catholic's devotion. But what does Hitler have to do with the singing of "Danny Boy" at Mass?
-Joe Offer-

04 Oct 06 - 10:47 PM (#1850696)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: michaelr

I think "Danny Boy" should be allowed to be sung ONLY at Catholic funerals.

That way I would never have to hear the damn thing again...


05 Oct 06 - 10:59 AM (#1851037)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

>>"They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love." Anyone remember that old guitar-mass favorite?<<

Remember it well, I do. During the great purge of songs from the folk hymnals in the late 70s, that one went bye bye. I don't recall if it was a copyrtight issue as Joe_Offer mentioned or the possibility that it wasn't "Catholic enough", the 2nd reasons certain songs fell out of use. Even though it was removed from our Hymnals, we continued to use it at the CCD Children's Mass because all the kids knew it by heart.

Incidentally, I just saw a news article on the CNN site that listed Danny Boy in the top ten of all-time funeral favorites.

Poppa gator brings up a good point again - that there is a perefectly suitable liturgical set of lyrics to the tune of Londonderry Air that can be subsituted in Parish's that are srtict on this issue.

05 Oct 06 - 11:14 AM (#1851046)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Dang - I meant to include that 'They will know We are Christians by our love' is a reference to a number of scriptures that say you can recognize other Christians because they will be 'Cloothed in love' or 'Clothed with love' depnding on the translation. Then there is also Colossians 3:14 admonishing us to 'cloth yourselves with love'. One of my favorite scriptures. In other words, don't clothe yourself in piety and other such demonstrations or with symbols, just clothe yourself in love in all will see who you really are. It's why I no longer wear a Cross but instead try to wear my love for others openly.

05 Oct 06 - 12:30 PM (#1851135)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: PoppaGator

My feeling about "They Will Know..." is that the explicit message of the first verse proved to be "too ecumenical" (i.e., "not Catholic enough") for the reactionary bunch that came to power in the Church along with Paul VI:

We are one in the Spirit / we are one in the Lord (2x)
And we pray that all (our?) unity / will one day be restored..."

The "we" doing the singing obviously identify themselves as Christians (including Protestants, Orthodox, Copts, etc.), not as a group consisting exclusively of Roman Catholics (members of the One True Church).

I've always felt that the degree of openness expressed in this song led to its fall from favor when the hardliners took charge of the Vatican and proceeded to do everything they could to undo the "damage" done by John XXIII, who they elected only because they didn't expect him to live long enough to accomplish anything...

05 Oct 06 - 01:03 PM (#1851162)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

>We are one in the Spirit / we are one in the Lord (2x)
>And we pray that all (our?) unity / will one day be restored..."

I was a Catholic schoolboy in the heyday of that song, and believe
me, the notion placed in OUR heads was that the verse meant that we
hoped that the Protestants would eventually come to their senses and
come back to the 'fold.' We were so steeped in the 'One True Church'
rhetoric that our arrogance didn't brook the notion that Rome might
be the one to move. (Recall this was when we didn't sing 'Away in
A Manger' because it was ostensibly written by Martin Luther.)

I rather subscribe to the theory that, like so many other 'gee
kids we can us GUITARS at Mass!' songs, this one got swallowed up
by the St. Louis Jesuits revolution. There were a bunch of songs
that happened to. 'Of My Hands' by the Damiens. The early, up-beat,
'Peace Prayer of St. Francis.' The really campy 'It's a Brand
New Day.' Let's face it, some of these early attempts came off
as very contrived, or campy, or didn't scanprop erlyto
quite fit-the-me ter. Not only was the St. Louis stuff pretty
well-constructed by skilled musicians right out of the gate,
it was very well packaged and marketed. Musicians liked to play
it, people like to hear and sing it, and people with the
purse-trings liked to be able to get the materials.

05 Oct 06 - 01:16 PM (#1851171)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: SharonA

A wonderful, informative discussion. I've learned some info I'd never known about "Danny Boy" and the Catholic Church, and I've been reminded of the old "They Will Know We Are Christians" song which was so ecumenical that it was sung at the youth-group meetings in the fundamentalist-Protestant church I attended (i.e. was forced to attend).

But something seems to be missing here -- maybe it was covered in another thread (if so, I didn't see it go by) -- so I'd like to make sure it gets mentioned here. I'd like to express my condolences to PoppaGator on the passing of his mother. I hope that her decision to donate her body to medical science will benefit many other folks.


05 Oct 06 - 01:52 PM (#1851219)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Now it's the St. Louis Jesuits that are considered "oldies" music. I went to a reunion concert by the Jesuits in April, and really enjoyed it. I also heard Marty Haugen and David Haas at workshops that weekend. I have to say I like the Jesuits better than Haas/Haugen/Hurd (the Catholic Big three), but there are a number of Haas/Haugen/Hurd songs I like very much - they even use traditional melodies at times, and have resurrected some tunes from Southern Harmony. Both the "folk mass" musicians and Haas/Haugen/Hurd have a nasty tendency to use buzzwords and terms that are in temporary popularity. The Jesuits used mostly Scripture for their lyrics.

"They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" is one of the few survivors of the "folk mass" period. As I said above, it's in the hymnals of OCP and GIA, the two big Catholic publishers in the U.S.; and it's also in the J.S. Paluch hymnals. There are some others that should have survived from that era, like the gospel-laced songs of Rev. Clarence Rivers ("God Is Love"), and the songs of Joe Wise.

These are all songs I've lived with all my life, and I know many of them by heart. I wish I could remember folk song lyrics so well. I won't sing St. Louis Jesuits songs at the Getaway or Camp Harmony.

Click here for an article by Michael Joncas on Catholic liturgical music.
Click here for an article by Ken Canedo Rev. Clarence Rivers and his music.
Click here for a 2004 obituary for Fr. Rivers.

05 Oct 06 - 08:36 PM (#1851561)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: PoppaGator

Sharon ~ Thanks for your concern.

Actually, Mom's passing, at age 84, was not a terribly sad event. She had been suffering from dementia for about seven years, and her condition had deteriorated badly over the past six months or so. All of us ~ friends and family ~ had been afraid that she would hang on for months and years in her severly diminished condition; her mother and grasndmother had both lived well into their 90s, and Mom's physical (as opposed to mental) health was pretty good until shortly before the end.

We all agreed that it was a blessing that she was taken so soon after we had to finally move her out of her home (where she had lived for years with full-time live-in caregivers) and put her into a nursing home.

Here's a link to her obituary, as printed in the Newark Star-Ledger:

Also: Greg, I, too, remember "Away in a Manger" as being "verboten." Crazy, huh?

06 Oct 06 - 03:05 AM (#1851734)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

I guess I was in a liberal Catholic diocese (Milwaukee, which had lots of Lutherans) - we learned TWO tunes for "Away in a Manger."

06 Oct 06 - 01:40 PM (#1852142)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

The whole 'Away in a Mnager' thing was spotty, and seemed
to vary by priest.

As did the view on 'Oh Holy Night' where the text of the
first verse is in fact considered heretical by some.

06 Oct 06 - 02:36 PM (#1852173)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Greg B... is the >> 'Peace Prayer of St. Francis.'<< song you refer to the one that starts with "make me a channel of your peace"??

if so, that song is still in use today. I hear it alot at funerals for Policemen or Firemen and/or at Masses in Parishes where the Franciscan 3rd order has a large presence. As i recall, the priest that was killed in 9/11 was a Franciscan and that was the song his fireman chose to sing as they carried his body out of the wreckage.

06 Oct 06 - 03:50 PM (#1852218)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

There were two St. Francis prayers, both started
that way (if it started 'I've got a lovely bunch
of coconuts,' it wouldn't be St. Francis, now
would it?).

One was up-beat, very suitable for 2.5 chord
chunka-chunka accompaniment. The other was
quite sedate, and required the guitarist
to be able to distinguish one string from
the next and maybe play a run or two.

06 Oct 06 - 04:44 PM (#1852254)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Joe Offer

Sebastian Temple's "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" (1967 - so it's from the Folk Mass era) is still in frequent use in my diocese, Sacramento. It was also used at Princess Diana's funeral. Lyrics are in this thread (click).
-Joe Offer-

06 Oct 06 - 05:36 PM (#1852288)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Greg B

Ah yes...that was the upbeat one.

I think the slow one is a St. Louis Jebbie version.

Sebastian Temple...that takes me back.

12 Oct 06 - 06:21 PM (#1857254)
Subject: RE: 'Danny Boy' at Catholic funeral
From: Dave'sWife

Yes Joe_Offer, it's the Sebastian Temple one that is still sung at the occasions I mentioned. brings me back too GregB