About a week ago I received a call from a woman in San Jose. She said she and her siblings were graduates of our parochial school and their mother was active in support roles back in the day. The daughter said her mother was failing in hospice care and she had expressed on prior occasions that, if at all possible, could students from the school contribute musically to her funeral. Somehow she'd heard that we'd revived a bell choir, and would their involvement be possible. The kids had already done their first funeral for a toddler sister of a current first grader, and comported themselves with dignity in every aspect. Upon the elderly mother's death and notice by her daughter, I called our principal, the class teacher and the pastor. My concern over the use of the bells during Lent was assuaged by the pastor, so we confirmed the choir's involvement. They already had a significant amount of repertoire appropriate for the processionals and ordinary, but I arranged three additional pieces, including the clip below, for this occasion. They'd only rehearsed this arrangement of mine of "In paradisum" once. So, as you watch and listen, you'll notice they're quite fixed upon the music sheets.
But what matters for me, my school colleagues and the pastor, is their inchoate witness to our Catholic Faith and their dedication to fulfill a ministerial role at the funeral of an elderly lady whose only connection was the tendon of tradition of our school. This isn't perfection, but it gives me hope for paradise for all our sakes.
Sorry the beginning is abrupt. The celebrant mixed up the commendation a bit, so our 8th grade teacher pressed record a nanosecond late.