On the FIRST day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Special coffins

“Heaven scent and gone to seed” 

 

This is the saying on a coffin perfect for your green fingered loved one.

It’s covered with a full image of a pear tree, a shed door and a pair of wellies just outside the door.

 

How about a tree.

Return your loved one to nature in a Bios Urn. This biodegradable urn designed to turn the ashes of your loved one into a memorial tree. It’s made from biodegradable materials and comes with a pine seed, although you can change the seed to what ever tree you wish; so you could have a wonderful pear tree growing from the ashes of your loved one.

A living tree urn – funeral urn

This is a biodegradable urn or bio urn that grows a tree in combination with the ashes of your loved one as a living tree memorial to them.

It comes with an actual living tree that is 2 to 4 feet in height and comes in a pot with a strong, robust root system. This makes it easy for families to have success and grow a beautiful tree memorial.

 

Here’s a song or two that have links to the carol.

Anything you can do I can do better from Annie get your gun

“…I can shoot a partridge, with a single cartridge…”

For those who were children of the seventies, the American sitcom “The Partridge Family” featuring Shirley Jones and David Cassidy had a number of hits during it run from 1970 to 1974.

This would be a more uplifting song for the exit from a service.

Come on get happy

 

On the SECOND day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Two Turtledoves

A dove to soar

People are often looking for different ways to celebrate and mark the passing of their loved one. And so the release of white doves is proving popular.

This company in Essex suggest it as a “more poignant gesture to say your final goodbye”

Why not a flock

The White Dove Company will even release a flock of 100 doves to make a moving tribute to a loved.

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service. These mention turtledoves:

The Song of Solomon (2:10-13)

“My beloved speaks, and says to me:

‘Arise, my love, my fair one,

And come away.

For behold, the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;

The time of singing (of birds) has come,

And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs,
And the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one, And come away!'”

An Egyptian Love Poem might hit the right note

I hear thy voice, O turtle dove-

The dawn is all aglow-

Weary am I with love, with love,

Oh, whither shall I go?

Not so, O beauteous bird above,

Is joy to be denied….

For I have found my dear, my love;

And I am by his side.

We wander forth, and hand in hand

Through flowery ways we go-

I am the fairest in the land,

For he has called me so.

How about a song or two that have links to the carol

Somebody to love (by Bobby Darin 1936 – 1973)

“Somebody to call me turtledove

Somebody to love”

The Turtle Dove (by Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1959)

A true mourning song for a lost love. The final verse

“O yonder doth sit that little turtle dove,

He doth sit on yonder high tree,

A-making a moan for the loss of his love,

As I will do for thee, my dear,

As I will do for thee.”

 

On the THIRD day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Three French Hens

Another coffin perfect for the chicken keeper.

This florist in Canvey Island has a 3D funeral wreath of a chicken

Some poetry for the chicken fancier

A poem for a chicken enthusiast was created by Poetry for Funerals (poetryforfunerals.com) , they posted this on Facebook.

 

“Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens” (by Jack Prelutsky b1940)

Prelutsky’s poem contains the lines:

“there were chickens everywhere, they were standing on my stomach, they were nesting in my hair,”

Read the full poem here.

 

On the FOURTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Four Calling Birds

Some wonderful poetry

The popular Mary Elizabeth Frye’s poem

Do not stand at my grave and weep (by Mary Elizabeth Frye 1905-2004)

“I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.”

See the full poem here

Why not have this poem sung – There is a wonderful version by Geoffrey Stephens

DO NOT STAND AT MY GRAVE AND WEEP

MORNNING HAS BROKEN

A Cat Stevens song that’s become a hymn

On Eagle’s Wings

A popular Catholic hymn

https://soundcloud.com/singers-for-funerals/on-eagles-wings

 

On the FIFTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Five Gold Rings

Funeral rings

When did the practice of funeral rings begin/end and how widespread was it?

Memorial jewellery is not a new idea, the tradition appears to date back to the medieval times. History Extra gives the details and shows mourning tokens didn’t start with the Victorians.

What do you do with your wedding ring?

A question many widows/ers face.

https://widowsvoice-sslf.blogspot.com/2012/08/with-this-ring.html

https://www.opentohope.com/widower-ponders-what-to-do-with-the-ring/

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service.

“Nothing gold can stay” (by Robert Frost 1874-1963)

The American poet’s short poem ends with

“So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.”

Find the complete poem here.

How about a song or two that have links to the carol

Jerusalem

A very popular traditional hymn, always brings a rousing sing from the congregation!

“Bring me my spear of burning gold”

Love is his word

A modern Catholic hymn.

“…richer than gold is the love of my Lord

better than splendour and wealth…”

Gold (by Spandau Ballet)

great to play for the true Spandau fan.

“…Gold, always believe in your soul…”

 

On the SIXTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Six Geese a Laying

Is there any significance of geese or birds at funerals?

Nice blog, posing this question and comes up with an answer

What about eggs?

Jewish traditions show that after the burial, a relative or friend prepares the “meal of condolence,” which traditionally consists of eggs (symbolising life) and bread.

You could find geese at Hinton Park Burial Grounds

 

Readings and songs are always an important part of a funeral service.

“WILD GEESE” (by Mary Oliver 1935)

“the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.”

See the full poem here

 

On the SEVENTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Seven Swans a Swimming

You could find serenely swimming swans at Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground

The have a wonderful wetland site which attracts some wonderful birds, and at various times of the year swans have taken up residence.

Perhaps you might need to get your thirst quenched

The name of this place in Bury, Manchester says it all!

 

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service.

This mentions swans:

A beautiful funeral poem by Michael Ashby

Swan Song (by Michael Ashby b1950)

The swan silently

Crossed the river

No reflection, no ripple

In her wake

Lit by a moving sunbeam

She crossed the water

Just, for my sake

See the full poem here

 

How about some music that has links to the swans

The dying Swan (from Carnival of the animals by Saint-Saëns)

A beautiful cello solo, of course it really is best known from the ballet Swan Lake – have a watch and listen.

 

On the EIGHTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Eight Maids a Milking

Cows and funerals?

Yes, in parts of Africa (in particular the Sepedi culture) is sacred but… cows are approached for slaughter when there is a funeral. They function to appease the ancestors so they may welcome one of their own to their realm. The slaughtering of a funeral cow is intricately executed by a designated family member or member of society

This blog explains the significance

Poems

Are there really any to link milking, cows and funerals? yes Michael Ashby has a poem for the occasion.

‘Milking The Moments’ (by Michael Ashby b1950)

And it finishes with these lines:

“We only have today

In fact, we only have now

I’m so glad I milked my moments

But I’m even gladder I wasn’t a cow”

See the full poem here

How about a hymn that has links to the carol

Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest!

Jerusalem the golden,

With milk and honey blest—

The sight of it refreshes

The weary and oppressed:

You may know this tune better as I vow to Thee my country

 

On the NINETH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Nine Ladies Dancing

Dancing all the way

Why not dancing pallbearers

Yes, don’t have a ‘boring’ funeral get everyone up and dancing with these energetic pallbearers. Just make sure the deceased wasn’t too heavy! (But you might have to move the US to get this done)

Funeral dancing traditions

Ghana has some wonderful ways of celebrating the life of the deceased and dancing is high on the list!

 

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service.

These mention dance:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (Dylan Thomas 1914 – 1953)

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Read the full poem here

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 King James Bible (To everything there is a season)

4 – A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 

How about a hymn or two that have links to the carol

Lord of the Dance

“I danced in the morning when the world was begun

I danced in the moon…”

 

Sing a new song unto the Lord

“…All God’s people dance for joy…”

 

Or Perhaps a song about a naughty boy

Always look on the bright side of life

“…If life seems jolly rotten

There’s something you’ve forgotten

And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing

When you’re feeling in the dumps…”

 

On the TENTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Ten Lords a Leaping

Not a leaping Lord – but a Lord nevertheless

The funeral of Lord Nelson in 1806 created huge crowds, processions and artworks.

Dogon funeral dancers

The Dogon live in central Mali best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. These men at their funeral rituals leap high in the air

 

These are some of the most popular hymns used at funerals

Dear Lord and father of mankind

The Lord’s my shepherd (Crimond)

The Lord is my shepherd (by Howard Goodall)

This is our favourite version of the 23rd Psalm

I the Lord of Sea and Sky (“Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?)

A very popular modern hymn

Lord of all hopefulness

Another very popular funeral hymn

 

On the ELEVENTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Eleven Pipers Piping

Pipers ever popular

Remember there are different pipes so the sound can be very individual and unique.

More info from a Funeral bagpiper

We had a close encounter with a bagpiper at a funeral

Singers and pipers are great a funerals – however it’s helpful not to have them at the same time. This happened to us, not that the piper was booked for the service at which we were singing. The crematorium had 2 chapels and so the piper was at one and we were at the other.

I had another experience, where the family wanted the piper to play Amazing Grace as the coffin came into the crematorium and then me to continue singing Amazing Grace as everyone followed in. Great idea but, Bagpipes and singers often don’t sing in the same key (especially with a female voice). But we managed it. A quick fade out and fade in and the family and congregation were happy.

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service.

This mention pipes:

The Piper (by William Blake 1757–1827)

“Pipe a song about a lamb:”

So I piped with merry cheer.

“Piper, pipe that song again:”

So I piped; he wept to hear.

Read the whole poem here

SONGS

Perhaps the ultimate song about pipes that is wonderful for a funeral

Oh Danny boy (traditional Irish tune)

 

On the TWELFTH day of Christmas…

My truelove gave to me… Twelve Drummers Drumming

Some Drummers for the service?

Sub-Saharan drummers

The beats from the African Drummers keep all the dancers and singers together. Funeral celebrations can often go on for days and the drumming keeps all on the beat!

Taiko Drummers

Perhaps not really the thing for a funeral service. But the sheer power of the Japanese drummers is amazing!

Buddhist funerals

For three days the priests chan religious texts in unison, rang bells and beat drums. This is a long funeral service!

Find more about these funeral services here

Readings are always an important part of a funeral service.

This is perhaps one of the most popular

Funeral Blues (by W H Auden 1907-1973)

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Find the whole poem here

The Muffled Drum (by John Mayne 1759–1836)

For him, far hence, a mother sighs,

And fancies comforts yet to come!

He’ll never bless her longing eyes—

She’ll only hear the Muffled Drum!

Follow this link to the whole poem

Beat! Beat! Drums! (by Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892)

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!

Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,

See the full poem here

Hymns for drums

Whilst this doesn’t mention drums in the words it is the most iconic hymn with drum accompaniment.

The Battle hymn of the Republic (better known as Glory, Glory Hallelujah)

Here’s the US Army Field band

https://youtu.be/Jy6AOGRsR80?si=FNfdUGXScItBOTZP

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for ways to represent this popular Christmas song during a funeral. To to mention a singer singing the whole song live!

You know who to call…

For more information on the Christmas song read the Wikipedia page