Hymns mean more when they come from the heart.

Thursday, 5/12/11                                                                                                                                                                                                              

The Responsorial Psalms in our Masses were once joyful expressions of deep faith, but now we usually just rattle through them.  It occurred to me that we could profit from singing verses that meant more to us.

That thought turned me to remembering three funerals where the people sang hymns from the heart. Let me tell you about those occasions. The first was in 1967. Ray Repp and a Mark Howard had written modern hymns together. Then, after Mark was shipped home from Viet Nam, Ray sang one of their songs at Mark’s funeral. It had us all shivering.

                        I am the Resurrection and the life 
                                    He who believes in me shall never die.

Then, I was touched once when I wandered into a Quebec church, and someone told me they were conducting an old lady’s funeral. I sat down, then I heard the lady’s grandchildren sing the French version of a fine hymn.
Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee,
                                    E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.

The most touchy funeral hymn I have heard followed on the Mass for my nearest classmate, Father Hugh O’Rourke. I drove up to Rhode Island for it. At its conclusion we priest made two lines outside the chapel; and as they carried our bother out between us we asked Mary to watch over him.  

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae
Vita dulcedo, et spes nostra salve.
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
In hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
Misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
Nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O piae, O dulcis, Virgo Maria

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