I played the organ for a funeral a few days ago. The service had been planned by Earl, the 92-year-old man being honored that day. His choice of congregational hymns gave me some insight into his faith and optimism. Have I Done Any Good?—a cheerful, mormon-gospel-style hymn with a sprinkling of dotted eighth notes to keep us on our toes—was the opening hymn. And for the closing Earl had requested We Are Marching On to Glory, a less familiar tune but intended to be sung with just as much enthusiasm.
Even though I generally prefer more sophisticated hymns, I was rather pleased with Earl’s selections, particularly the closing. The chorus brought to my mind a vision of a family boldly bidding farewell to their beloved, singing with an enthusiasm to match the strength of a life well lived.
We are marching, marching homeward
To that bright land afar.
We work for life eternal;
It is our guiding star.
Unfortunately, my vision was not realized. Not even close. The chapel was large. The family was small. The hymn unfamiliar. And Earl did not leave behind a posterity of outstanding vocalists. I’m not sure there was a singer in the bunch! But most of all, while Earl was eager to move on in life and see his dear wife again, the rest of the family was really sad to say goodbye to the man. Though I did my best to keep the tempo moving along, it was the dreariest march tune I have ever heard. (Think: My Favorite Things when the Von Trapp children think that Maria is gone for good.)
I came home from the service determined to do all I could to not have that kind of musical mis-match at my own funeral. Not sayin’ I’m planning on going soon. Just planning ahead…hopefully way ahead!
Assuming that my descendants will have as much vocal skill as Earl’s and hoping they are equally unenthusiastic about my departure, I have created the following list: