After I've sung at funerals and listened to the eulogies, I often wish that I could have met the deceased. So many had lived interesting lives and made such an impression on people. Two recent funerals spring to mind.
Firstly a lovely Dutch lady, who spent time in Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) during WW2, and was interred there by Japanese. After settling in the UK and having children no matter how hard her son tried to get more details from her about that period of her life, she didn't want to talk about it. I suppose the ordeal she would have gone through meant it's best left behind and she wished to move forward.
The vicar gave a moving service and the sun shone through the beautiful stained glass windows flooding the church with coloured light. This brought a wonderful quote to mind:
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, psychiatrist
The second funeral was for another lady initially from Europe. She was a German who fell in love with a Polish man in Austria. As neither of them wanted to live in each other's country; they came to a compromise and move to England. The husband came first to settle and she followed two years afterwards. It takes some strength of character to wait so long. Whilst waiting to come she decided to learn English, but not at classes, she listened to the BBC World Service, so she had very correct English pronunciation!
Her husband sadly died in 1987, so she had almost 30 years to devote her love and care on her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Towards the end she had remarked that all her friends had passed away and she felt that at last her life's work was completed. So she was happy to join her husband.
The choice of music for these funerals was fairly traditional and Ave Maria was a particular favourite. We also sang some traditional hymns but, my highlight was "I'll walk with God" from 'The Student Prince' by Nicholas Brodsky. This was a big hit for Mario Lanza in the 1950's and very popular. One of my first professional performances was as Kathie in The Student Prince, but I must admit my prince wasn't as great as Mario Lanza, but I did love the song!
The family were pleased too:
"I would just like to say how beautifully you sang at my mum's funeral.. The service was enriched by your singing and the song/hymns you sang. Family and friends told me how lovely the service was because of this addition.