Great Funeral Music: "I Vow to Thee, My Country"

I was especially happy to hear the strains of "I Vow to Thee My Country" at the conclusion of Senator John McCain's service at the Washington National Cathedral. The original poem was set to music in the 1920s by Gustav Holst and is employed at every (no kidding) British Royal wedding or funeral (it was Lady Diana's favorite). Its lyrics are so patriotic that progressive members of the British clergy find them offensively nationalistic, but it was a great choice for the heroic senator and I confess to gasping with glee and relief when I recognized it, watching the televised service intently as the casket and family walked sadly but victoriously down the aisle. 

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When the Weather is a Guest at the Funeral

People often attribute significance or meaning to the weather on the day of a funeral. But a dramatic weather switch in the presence of a casket can become the momentary star of the show. Heavy, pelting, sorrowful rain commenced the moment the military honor guard walked Senator John McCain's casket up the tall stairs of the U.S. Capitol. More than one commentator heralded how remarkable this was, as it was still sunny in other spots of Washington.

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What People Don't Know About Cremation

Cremation does not replace the funeral. You can still have a funeral with the body present before the cremation, or a memorial service with an urn there afterwards.

If a cremation is planned–and a wake, formal funeral or identification of the body is still anticipated– you needn’t be saddled with the costs of a casket. Ask your funeral home about a ceremonial rental casket with cardboard cremation liner.

The lowest cremation price in the phone book or from a Google search is too low. Trust me. Funeral homes charging bottom dollar may be cutting corners to increase their total sales volume (or annual calls).

If time allows and the family is interested, the cremation box can be creatively decorated. Ask your funeral director to charge you extra to bring the cardboard cremation box to your house so that you and the grandkids (for example) can write, paint and draw on grandma’s casket. Sounds potentially strange and disastrous, I know, but like brides on their wedding day, these home decorated sacred vessels are surprisingly gorgeous and engage the family in an activity that is wildly uplifting.

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