Monday, 9 November 2015

Music for the soul: Be Thou my Vision


Going a little off the point for NaBloPoMo, but still on a theme of hymns...

It may take a moment to get to the point, re. the title of this blog entry:
do bear with me...
Several years ago, in conversation with a pal, we were talking about funerals we'd been to.  Having put the world to rights about why this or that was perhaps not very good, or why such and such was really rather excellent, we moved on to our own funerals: what would we like when the day came?
While it ended up becoming one of the funniest conversations I've had, it was eminently practical as well. Said friend, normally a pretty quiet and
self-composed person, declared in the end:
'No! I want to go in style - I want the full works! I want a horse-drawn hearse; the horses -
with black feather headdress, a man to lead the hearse in front,
walking slowly and seriously. I want to be taken to the church that way,
with the beat of a slow drum to keep time. And then, the total pomp
and ceremony of a funeral Mass - with clouds of incense.'
We talked on, of readings, and hymns, and giggled our way through
the thought of hiring professional mourners, as they did, back in the day.
As an aside, said friend is a Pisky, with a seriously well-developed sense of
humour, and so high up the liturgical candle that you're in danger of nose-bleed...

The practical and pragmatic outcome of the conversation was, however,
a prod to go to the solicitor and get the will sorted. In said will, there's
also a funeral arrangements file. Dull Presbyterian that I am, and knowing
I'd never compete with friend, I've noted who I'd like to conduct the thing -
if they happen to still be shuffling about this mortal coil,
and also noted a bible reading and hymn.
The reading? The Prologue of John.
I am nothing, if not an incarnation nut - that text goes deep.
It's almost the best thing about Christmas worship for me:
God's 'yes' to the world.
The surprise of expected, yet wholly unexpected love.
And the hymn?
Always, always, 'Be Thou my Vision'
Text and hymn meeting in beautiful symmetry.
The version I like the best has the line:
'be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight'
It's a comfort, especially on my more numptyish of days,
for this 8 on the Enneagram.
A reminder that in the end, it's actually going to work out fine -
that when I've lost all shred of dignity,
I stand in God's dignity.
That, in a job that's about being real,
which calls me to strip away the pretence,
God's dignity suffices.
There's the reminder to, about delight.
Delight is good.
Delighting in God, better.

1 comment:

Teri said...

I have a form I use with people, encouraging them to leave instructions on all kinds of things (funeral plans, anything they've already arranged/paid for, such as burial plot or particular funeral home, location of important documents, etc. We keep it at the church. When someone dies, it's very handy to the family to have all of that written down somewhere.

My own instructions are extensive and may actually include the order of the music. lol. Because for all my insisting that the funeral is for the living and the precise wishes of the deceased are not entirely the point, I still intend to control that service just like any other. hahahahaha.