Thursday, June 15, 2006

Funerary Grace

Today, I attended a beautiful funeral that I think topped all funerals I have been to in terms of the music quality. Thankfully, the funeral was not for someone I knew personally but for the father of one of my business partners. I enjoyed the music tremendously.

First, the service opened with the congregation singing Amazing Grace, which is simply the most amazing hymn of all time, but then, interspersed between the invocation and scripture readings, were several duets performed by a husband and wife um, duet. They sang "In the Garden," "Old Rugged Cross" and "On Eagles' Wings." These old hymns really move the spirit. The husband sang a buttery smooth dramatic baritone and the wife sang a full bodied soprano. They made beautiful music together.

The highlight however, was the "special music" right before the closing prayer. I have never heard "How Great Thou Art" performed more eloquently. Now, I have to confess that when I saw Don Lipovac on the program, I thought to myself, what?! I giggled a little. An "inside giggle," of course. I mean, sure, he's a great polka player. We have some of his CD's. We've listened to him perform at many a Croatian church picnic. He's been on the Lawrence Welk show! How does one measure the success of a man if not by whether or not he has performed on the Lawrence Welk show?! So, he's a good musician. But at a funeral?! Turns out, the decedent played with him at one point and followed the band around for many years. Anyway, so the time comes for Don to come out, with his huge squeeze box in tow (the kind with piano keys and buttons). This was no toy accordion. And he started playing, before everyone could let loose the giggles they were keeping inside because well, you know, it's kind of funny to think of someone playing a polka in the middle of a funeral service. By the end of the song, most people were in tears and I swear, he could have segued right into a polka and it would have sounded fantastic! We would have danced. And Art (the decedent) would have loved it!

Anyway, I just wanted to share that wonderful experience with someone. I hope that if ever you are faced with having to make funeral arrangements for someone you love that you might consider having Don perform at the service. ;-) Okay, maybe not Don specifically, but you get the idea. And stick with the old hymns. They just don't make 'em like they used to.



At 7:26 PM, June 15, 2006, Anonymous Brian said...

They did Eagle's Wings at both Dave's funeral and Grandpa's. A good "the dead guy's doing better than you are" song, that one.

But no accordian. That would have been great.

At 8:04 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Rach said...

Not that I want any more family funerals any time soon but I enjoy hearing the singing. My Aunty is trained singer and so listening to her voice is neat.

At 10:55 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Not being musically gifted, I'm constantly in awe of how those who are can affect listeners in almost any setting.

At 1:09 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger mis_nomer said...

We have a bunch of elderly ladies at the church who attend funerals simply to encourage the family by their presence and singing. They don't exactly sing very well, but just hearing them sing the hymns of old loudly warms the heart.

I agree, funerals must always have hymns.

At 6:19 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger beth said...

My dad plays an accordian like that (piano keys AND buttons) - he doesn't much anymore but now and again we drag it out and make him play, so he's still fairly respectable. That being the case though, I love accordian music. It's a lost art and it's probably good I don't have kids because I would be tempted to "encourage" them to take it up. :)

Hymns are awesome - I'm glad they were so moving, but I'm still a little sad that they seem, at least where I live, to have been relegated to solely funeral music.

At 10:06 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

the dead guy's doing better than you are

Brian, don't we know it? ;-)

Rach, I'm not wishing for anyone to have to plan a funeral anytime soon either. ;-)

Not being musically gifted

I'm guessing Eric's being humble here, but I's amazing how good music affects people. I've always felt that I can hear God best through music and art, both being non-verbal but especially powerful forms of communication.

Mis_nomer, I think I'm going to be one of those old ladies someday (I've definitely got that "don't exactly sing very well" part down, but I do it with enthusiasm. ;-)

Beth, your DAD plays the accordion?! A real one? I used to have a toy one, with just buttons. ;-) I love accordion music also, but most of what I have is of the "party" variety (polkas, Zydeco, Croatian folk, that kind of stuff). I've never heard a solo accordion version of How Great Thou Art before. I too wish we got to sing more old hymns in our churches.


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