From our vantage point at the front of a church, our singers never cease to marvel at the skill, care and dignity of the unsung heroes at a funeral, the pallbearers.
It is no easy task to carry a coffin just on one shoulder, negotiating narrow church doors, tight turns around pews, and smooth alter steps, before gently placing the coffin on two small stands.
This is a job where experience seems to pay, with the older generation often showing younger men how it's done; hands folded, steady pace, good spacial awareness. It's almost elegant to watch, and always finished with a turn and bow to the alter before departing, a lovely touch of respect.
We sing at quite a few travellers' funerals, where the tradition is for large American style caskets to be carried by male members of the family. This presents a whole new set of challenges, with more bearers required, and some expert steering and advice from the funeral director walking in front.
We always admire the way a steading hand, a few gentle words of direction (and some judicious pre-service balancing of people's heights so the coffin is level) enables those who want to take on this task to do so at a most difficult time.
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