In paradisum-beyond….

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.

5 Replies to “In paradisum-beyond….”

  1. One of the most beautiful and moving chants in the repertoire. Congratulations for making it possible on this occasion, Charles.

  2. Y'know, I'd been wondering about whether I could combine chant with bells – I'm in both groups. This gives me great hope.

    On Good Friday we're singing Were You There with 3 octaves of handchimes, and I'm sure it's going to be WONderful.

  3. Soli Deo gloria, guys…and thank you for your kind words. I'll pass them onto the kids. Carl, as I noted, they'd only been given the arrangement the day before, and I didn't have but a half an hour to have them read and render the melody/accompaniment mode, so m' girls playing the 6 range melody didn't have much opportunity to get the flow of the chant.
    But all that aside, what astounds me year after year now is that the 8th graders were such total pains in the seventh grade, but they take on this whole new mantle when they "receive" the honor of the bells from their predecessors. And this year's kids are motivated in all ways; they take their Christian service at Mass seriously. They take on all sorts of new challenges in diverse styles.
    Often the best part of my work week!
    Again, thank you. Matthew, are you MM?

  4. Charles, what a WONDERFUL video – of some wonderful young people – who obviously have a wonderful director/teacher! Thank you so much for posting this. In the midst of all the baloney, THIS is a shining beam of light that has truly "lifted up my heart!" Thank you! And thank the young people!

Comments are closed.