Friday, 16 January 2009

Giving Death The Bird

I was sent this press release today from the Church of Scotland.

"Some modern music choices at funerals seem to reflect a desire to avoid the stark reality of death, according to writer Ron Ferguson, a Church of Scotland minister, who urges people to think carefully about the music for their funeral. A survey of more than 80,000 funerals conducted by Cooperative Funeral care has found that pop songs were chosen over hymns in four out of 10 services. The most popular choice is Frank Sinatra’s My Way followed by Bette Midler’s anthem Wind Beneath my Wings. As well as popular film music choices included themes from Coronation Street or Eastenders, the Birdie Song and The Laughing Policeman.

Writing in this month’s Life and Work Ferguson says: ‘Such songs might seem a good idea down at the pub, but may not feel so appropriate at the actual ceremony. Ministers, he says, are often under pressure from families to make the funeral service exclusively a celebration of the person’s life and are even under pressure to keep the coffin out of sight. ‘This is not healthy’, he comments. ‘With so many medical procedures designed to keep people alive at all costs, it’s almost as if every death is regarded as a personal failure on the part of the medical profession.’

He suggests that hymns matter even to Protestant and Catholic atheists. ‘What is novel should perhaps be matched by familiar ‘anchoring’ scriptures and hymns which have stood the test of time. Such elements can help to bear the true weight of the occasion and bring solace to the bereaved.'

I wrote about this phenomenon in the penultimate chapter of I Shot a Man in Reno, and made very similar points (I wonder if the Reverend Ron has read the book?). However, not even I realised that people wanted to play this at their funeral. Why? Really. Why why why?

No comments: