3 November 2017

Funeral music.

 I started to write this on a thread about funeral music on Facebook.  The comment was becoming a little long and so I moved it over here to complete it.  It began with someone discussing the music for a funeral.  I commented that her choices were an improvement over the hot mess that was the music at my mother's funeral.  The original poster then commented that I needed to be more aggressive with the church, and here begins my response:

It wasn't the church, or, it wasn't just the church I had to be aggressive with: I had to be much, much  more aggressive with my sisters. 

Before I continue, let me point out that my sisters ho insisted on planning the funeral also insisted that my brother and I have some input and then ignored everything my brother and I had to say.  Of the four of us, I was at that time the only regular church goer.  One of my sisters spent much of the time planning opining about how she preferred the United Church's approach to funerals.  But, as I said, the only one of us who knew how the Mass should be done was outvoted and shut down from the beginning.

Before I knew I was to be shut down and out completely, I began making arrangements with my organist, who volunteered to do the music at my mother's funeral- at her parish- for free. I rang up my sisters who were starting to take control and told them that I would handle the music, and that I would be using my organist. They told me that, by the rules of that church, anyone using that church had to use their organist for weddings and funerals. This is a common practice amongst some churches. Catholic churches routinely underpay their musicians for the Masses, and make it up to them by giving them a monopoly on funerals and weddings, which are the real cash cows. I don't have a real problem with a church doing this, however, if they decide to go this route, it is heavily incumbent upon them to hire a good or at least competent musician and singer. They didn't. The 'organist they hired wasn't. which wasn't that big a problem as the organ wasn't, either.  It was an electronic keyboard, which he had permanently set to 'glass harmonica.' My sisters at least recognized that that mediocre, saccharine sound would not do for mother's funeral, but they still had to twist his arm to set that cheap keyboard to 'piano'. He also has a terrible singing voice (even though he was trained by St Michael's choir school) and, when singing, his voice bears a more than passing resemblance to Elmer Fudd.

We were allowed to have another singer, and before I had told my sisters that I would handle it, they had asked the daughter of a friend of mother's, who frequently handled the singing at that parish, to sing for mother's funeral. I told them: no problem. I'll pay the 'organist' his usual fee to not play at all, so he won't lose any money, and I'll explain to what's her face that I'll handle the singing myself. Shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong.  Oh no, they said. No no no no no.  These were mother's friends.  They liked mother very much.  It would hurt their feelings for them to not sing at mother's funeral, couldn't I see that?  Mother wouldn't want hurt feelings at her funeral, would she?

I confess myself somewhat confused by this chain of... well, whatever it was, it was not logic, at any rate.  What on earth did 'feelings' have to do with this? Why on earth would they enter into any discussion on this matter?  But, since feelings have entered into this discussion, I am at a complete loss to understand why or how the feelings of those two friends of mother's were more important that the feelings of her son.  

At a loss, I say, but not surprised.  To have been surprised at that would have been to have forgotten our history as a family.

The discussion went on and, the long and the short of it was that they would not tell the singer and organist, whom they would never see again after the funeral, to not play or sing, but I would have to tell my organist, with whom I must work, week in, week out,  that his extremely generous offer was to be declined.

My sisters did ask me if I was aware of my mother's choices in music.  I told them I was, told them what she had told me, and they proceeded to ignore it utterly, but that part I didn't find out until the funeral and the music started playing.

I don't remember what the introit was, but they played Panis Angelicus, which she did like, as an offertory, and the Bach/Gounod  Ave Maria (she preferred Schubert's, and had told them that) for communion.  The recessional was, I am sorry to say, "On Eagle's Wings".  I think I groaned out loud, because my eldest sister, who was in the pew in front of me, hissed at me "Shut up! She liked this piece, so shut your mouth!" Mother had mentioned that song to me, back when the folk choir played it about every other week for Mass,  but what she had to say about it was this: "It's not as bad as some of the other things they sing."

Among the hymns she had wanted was one I started practicing with my organist for this occasion: Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.  I probably would have used Panis Angelicus for the Communion, and Ave Maria for the cleansing.  For an Introit I would have intoned Requiem Aeternam, and probably would have used In Paradisum for the recessional.  But that was what I might have done, which counts for nothing.

I can't remember which mass setting they used, except that it was done badly.  The organist, who had been instructed not to sing, did in fact sing at one point.  As I said, Elmer Fudd.  The main singer's singing was about average- she mostly hit the right notes.

I suppose I should say it could have been worse.  They could have gone with Carey Landry.  But it should have been better.

1 November 2017

quick question

I haven't prepared anything new for Remembrance Day this year.  Is anyone interested in seeing a repost of some of my old series?

UPDATE: That answers that.

25 October 2017


Exactly six hundred and two years ago today, Henry V stood before his troops and did not speak these words. But, a little over four hundred years ago, a hack playwright put these words in his mouth, and so people now celebrate the incredible, improbable victory of Henry over the French at Agincourt by posting this scene, or another one like it.

Happy St. Crispin's day, everyone.

24 October 2017

Prelude to Riot.

I went back and completed my transcription of the article I mentioned yesterday. It is from the Mail, Saturday, October 2, 1875.  The meeting described here takes place just before the second of the two riots mentioned in a post below.  The city is holding a meeting in order to try and prevent more violence such as happened the Sunday before.  Not included here is a meeting of the city council on the subject, where Mayor Medcalf stated that he thought he had the power to stop the processions, but was told by the law enforcement that he did not. The Orange Lodge and the Order of Young Britons also had meetings during the week, in which they declared it would be the fault of the Catholics having a procession that the first riot occurred, and would be their fault again if a second riot were to take place.  Meetings have also been taking place among the Young Hibernians and other Catholic groups, and rumours are flying.  With that, here is a fascinating (for me, anyway, and perhaps one other person) window into the past of my city and the position of my religion within it.  It is a trifle dry at times, but try to make it all the way through. It is worth it.

Immense Audience and Great Excitement.
Leading Orangemen Advocate Peace and Order.

Pursuant to proclamation of the Mayor , a public meeting was held last night in St. Lawrence Hall “to take into consideration the best steps to be taken to prevent a repetition of the public procession and the acts of violence resulting therefrom on the Sabbath Day, and generally to calm the public mind and to preserve the sanctity of the Lord’s Day, and the peace and tranquility of the city.”

The hall was packed and hundreds could no obtain admission.  About a dozen policemen were scattered throughout the audience to preserve order.  Amongst those on the platform were the Mayor,  who presided; Col. O.R. Gowan, P.G.M., B.N.A; Major Bennett, D.M., D.G.M.W.O.;  Rev. A. Sanson, G.C.W.O.; Ald. Adamson, Co. M.; J. Hewitt, D.M., No. 212; J. Campton, D.M. O.Y.B.

It is safe to say there were not half a dozen Roman Catholics present.

The Mayor said the meeting was a public one, and everybody, no matter what his creed, had a right to be heard, and he (the Mayor) would do all in his power to give him a hearing. (Hear, hear).

Mr. J Case, on being nominated, was appointed secretary.

The MAYOR read the proclamation calling for the meeting.  He then said that if he were to judge by the number of persons present, he should certainly say it was necessary to call a public meeting. Now, when the public mind was so much agitated was hardly the time to judge things fairly.  Those present were part and parcel of the people, and they wanted to calm the public mind as much as possible with regard to matters going on in our city.  Of course it was not for him, as Chairman of the meeting, to express his opinions so strongly as he might do if he stood alone on the platform. After again asking the audience to give a fair hearing to all the speakers, he called upon the speakers to proceed.

Col O.R. GOWAN was the first speaker.  He stated that a committee had been appointed to draft resolutions, copies of which he held in his hands.  In order that the audience might have an opportunity of judging their tenor, he thought it best that they should be read altogether, first, as follows:

1.       Reolved, -That this meeting is profoundly moved by the disgrace brought upon the usually peaceful city of Toronto by the recent conflicts which have taken place in the streets of the city between certain processionists called Pilgrims, and other classes of the population opposed to them in religious opinion; and that every good citizen must deplore the riotous and disorderly conduct which took place; and that all should use all legitimate and proper means to prevent a repetition of it.

2.       Resolved,- that in the present excited state of public feeling, this meeting can scarcely hope that either of the opposing elements will give way to the other; and with the view of discountenancing the appearance of a triumph by either party, this meeting entrusts both parties to give way by abandoning all appearance of public processions and gatherings, and by attending as individuals their respective churches on the Lord’s day in the usual quiet and unobtrusive manner.

3.       Resolved,- That copies of these resolutions be sent by his Worship the Mayor, to the Roman Catholic Archbishop, and to the Orange and Young Briton District Managers, respectfully calling upon them to prevent, so far as their power lies, all ostentatious display on the Sabbath day, and thus prove their good sense and Christian feeling by eschewing all things calculated to give offence, and by cultivating all things conciliatory and peaceful.

4.       Resolved,- That should all attempts to preserve the public peace unfortunately prove ineffectual, his Worship the Mayor be respectfully requested to the Riot Act and to command all disorderly persons to disperse, and, if necessary, call out the civil and military powers to preserve the public peace of the city of Toronto.

He said that is would be seen that the matter was approached in a Christian and friendly spirit.  In conversation he had with Roman Catholics, he had been told that as some of the pilgrimages had already taken place, it was necessary for the good of the participants’ souls that the whole series be gone through. (Derisive jeers.)  If the pilgrimages must be performed, surely every man would desire that they should take place at such an hour as to make them as unobtrusive as possible, or even postponed, in order that human life might not be lost The Sabbath Day was set apart by God and the law as a holy day, and if Roman Catholics thought that if walking from one church to another was keeping it holy, they should be respected. His Grace the Archbishop should recognize and appreciate the kindly feelings of the Protestants of the city. Attention was drawn to the advance of the ultramontane views in Europe and Lower Canada. If it was determined to have the pilgrimage, and blood spilled, and lives lost, then let the guilt rest on those who were responsible. He trusted that every conciliatory measure would be eployed by both parties, and that if there were and disturbance his Worship the Mayor would see that the civil authority was exerted against any party who disobeyed the law. He then moved the first resolution, and hoped that a Roman Catholic would second it.

Mr. A. FLEMING, it is understood, seconded the resolution, and it was carried amid loud applause. Only one person dissented from it, and he was heartily hissed.

The MAYOR said, if better order were not kept, another chairman would have to be appointed.

The Rev. Mr. SANSON moved the second resolution.  After some noise down at the lower end of the hall had been stopped by police, the rev. gentleman said that while he would not be able to induce his roman Catholic fellow citizens to abstain from making a public display on Sunday, yet he was sure that Protestants would not act illegally, and he would have no hesitation in going bail for the meeting. That habit of walking the streets to gaze upon processions on the Sabbath day was owing simply to idle curiosity; and those who were wise and anxious for the credit of their religion would go to their own churches quietly, no matter who walked the streets; while he was certain that id the “pilgrims” were actuate by the same spirit, they would either abstain from making an offensive demonstration, or else change the route. If they persisted in walking, however, the protestants would gain a grand moral triumph if they allowed others the same liberty they claimed for themselves. (Loud cheers.)  He thought it very wrong that the Young Britons as a body should be charged with the offence of breaking the law last Sunday. (Enthusiastic cheers.)  He called upon all good men to their respective churches and to leave the procession to take its own course and it would die out. (Cries of “Nonsense.”) Let the fault rest with those who made themselves offensive, and not with the Orangemen.  He hoped that his hearers, rather than have a collision, would give way. (Loud cries of “No, no.”) he did not mean to give way to matters of principal; but there was no principal involved. (Cries- “What about the procession?”) Mr. Sanson continued: We call upon the Roman Catholics in this resolution to abandon it; and at all events, if not inconsistent, to make it as little offensive as possible.  He then went on to say that it must be left to Roman Catholics to do their duty, but Protestants should see to it that they did not break the law.”

Dr. SMITH seconded the motion.  He said we were brought face to face with a great fact. He described the disturbance as the most brutal and disgraceful he had ever beheld.  He did not offer an opinion as to whether the pilgrimage was an obtrusion of religious views of an idolatrous character. Roman Catholics had a perfect right in their opinions. But they had not a right to obtrude them in public streets. He would bow his knee to no mortal but her Majesty; but he would entreat his Grace and every Catholic priest to forego the procession.  If there were a disturbance on Sunday this meeting would not be responsible.  In the name of God, he asked his audience, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, to adopt and carry out the resolution. (Cheers.)

Major BENNET  denied that there was any premeditated attack upon the procession as stated in some papers.  When it was recollected that the mandate of her Majesty was disobeyed, and what was occurring in Europe, it was not to be wondered that something should take place when the innovations were introduced here.  He affirmed the Orangemen were not a bloodthirsty lot, but, on the contrary, they were sworn t obey the laws of the country, and also slow to take offence, and offering none. (Cheers.)He wanted the Orangemen and Young Britons to show that, although their brethren were not allowed to walk in Montreal, yet they would allow the pilgrimage to walk their way. (Loud cries of “No, no.”)  He knew very well that Orangemen would not go out to break the peace of the city in acting against the laws of the country. If the laws were wrong, then let Orangemen by their votes see that they were made right.

On the votes being taken on the resolution only three or four were in favour of it, most of the audience crying “No, no.”

              Col. O.R. GOWAN was surprised to hear the dissentient voices.  Did his hearers, he asked, have any confidence in the resolution, or in those who prepared them? (Cries- “Not a bit.”) He had never betrayed them; but if such sentiments governed them, he denounced them totally. (Uproar.)  He reminded the Orangemen of their solemn oaths to obey the law, and he said any man who opposed the resolution was acting in open violation of his Orange oath.  He could not conceive that those who cried “NO, no,” were Orangemen; they must be men in disguise; if they were Orangemen, they were void of Orange principles.

              Mr. R. TAYLOR, amid some confusion, got on the platform, and asked Mr. GOWAN whether he would guarantee that the Roman Catholics would not hold a procession next Sunday? This is what the audience wanted to know, as Protestants and Orangemen.  (Loud cheers.)

Col. GOWAN said he was not Archbishop LYNCH. (Laughter.) He did not hold the conscience of his Roman Catholic fellow subjects in his pocket to se them when he pleased. The resolution asked the Catholics to forego their procession, but the meeting would not force them.  If they could make them forego it, they would. (Cries-  “Now you’re talking.”)

              Mr. TAYLOR said that if the Roman Catholics stayed in their chapels, there would be no disturbance. The Roman Catholics had “the right” of Montreal, and Protestants had “the right” of this city, and would keep it. (Cheers.) He had gone against Roman Catholics before, and would be willing to do the same tomorrow, if necessary.

              Mr. A. FLEMING said he appeared before his brother Orangemen to advise peace and good will; but if the Buffalo and Cleveland Fenians come to parade over here, as announced in some of the papers, his hearers would be no men if they permitted the procession. (Prolonged and enthusiastic cheers.) he disclaimed most solemnly any desire to play upon their feelings, but if the gauntlet were thrown down he, for one, would take it up or fall. (Loud applause.) There was a great deal more of the matter than the simple parade; he was not ashamed nor afraid to make this statement.  While he advocated all that the resolution implied, he protested against being intimidated by “these cut-throats.”  He could not as a Briton or member of the Tenth Royals submit to it. (Cheers.)

              The Rev. SANSON thought the resolution must stand on its own merits, and it was entitled to be carried by the meeting. If it failed to be passed; perhaps the next resolution would meet with approbation.

              The audience were again asked to vote on the motion, when about one hundred voted for it, they being saluted with cries of “Fenians.”

              This objectionable resolution being apparently dropped, the next (the third) was moved by (sic)

              Mr. John HEWITT. He trusted that the meeting would be able to be a moral force to show that Protestant usages and sentiments must prevail in this city.  Nobody present desired that any of their Roman Catholic fellow citizens should be killed. (“No, no.”)  They were present in a spirit of reconciliation; ; not by riot, but by calm, deliberate action to appeal to the minds of those interested. Roman Catholics should be satisfied with equal rights, but they should not expect special privileges.  (Loud cheers.) How would it be if the great Methodist body went on pilgrimages from one church to another? (One of the audience- “It would look well.” Laughter.)  The meeting would have done its duty. Roman Catholics would have to be satisfied with equal rights, and the moral sentiments of the Protestants of this country must be respected.

Mr. JAMES BURNS seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously.

Mr. J. CRANE moved the fourth resolution. He gave it as his opinion that the Orangemen present did not seem inclined to be directed by their superior officers.

Mr. J. CAMPTON seconded the motion. He said he was glad to see that the meeting was changing from a fiery to a calm character. The resolution which raised so much opposition must have been misunderstood. He was satisfied that if Young Britons only thought of what was taught in their lodges, viz- peace and kindness to all parties- they would do their duty. Orangemen talked of next year going to walk in Montreal; how could they expect to be unmolested if they attempted to stop the procession on Sunday? He trusted there would be no disturbance. If the volunteers were called out, it would be very hard for them to have to fire upon men who belonged to an institution of which they themselves were members; and perhaps they would not feel like protecting the Roman Catholic procession and then a great deal of blood might be shed. He hoped that all Young Britons at least would be found going to church next Sunday, instead of parading the streets.

Before the motion was put to the meeting, the MAYOR asked the audience to consider the position in which it was probable he would be placed.

The resolution was unanimously adopted, at which the MAYOR said he was glad.

Ald. ADAMSON too the chair, and on motion of Major Bennett, seconded by the Rev. Mr. Sanson, a vote of thanks was tendered to the Mayor for the manner in which he had presidied.
            In accepting thanks the MAYOR expressed his pleasure at the speeches made. He thought the speech of Mr. Campton, the O.Y.B. District Master, was especially to be commended. If he (the Mayor) had any knowledge of Orangemen, they did not wish to provoke the law of the country; on the contrary, it was their duty to protect them. No one believed that he and the gentlemen around him would truckle to popery; but in the present there was no principle involved; if there were, he would advise them to stand by that principle.  Roman Catholics asked the privilege of marching through our streets on the Sabbath Day in a peaceful and orderly manner.  They did not carry banners or have music. HE did not advocate Sunday processions, but the prejudices of others should be considered a little least. He asked his hearers  to give Roman Catholics the privilege of walking; that was all they asked, as he understood it.  He had made strict enquiries, and he found there were no flags or music.  (Cries of “There were;”) it might be. If Protestants denied Roman Catholics these privileges, how could they themselves sk for privileges? Were they not all of the same flesh and blood? (Cries of “No, no.”- Great laughter.) They had a right to walk as the law allowed them to do so, although he held that the laws were wrong., and the Legislature should be petitioned to have them altered. His Worship then made a strong appeal to the audience not to disobey the law, but to assist him to carry it out. He asked them to consider what his position would be if he were forced to call out the police, and worse than that, the military. (Cries of “Stop the procession”) His official position forced him to carry out the law. If there were any law against the procession- the smallest crack through which he could creep- he would soon stop it. (Cheers and laughter) But there was no such thing, and he was bound to deal justly with everybody.  He looked upon the Orangemen to keep the peace, to go quietly to their several churches, or to stay in their houses, and not to be the originators of a row.  In concluding his remarks, he dwelt upon the probable awful consequences of a riot.

A Mr. BOYD managed to get upon the platform, and said he objected to what the Mayor had state about the inoffensive nature of the procession last Sunday.  He (the speaker) declared that there were both banners and music.

After cheers for the Queen, the meeting broke up.

23 October 2017

Been Busy

As always, I have been busy with many things, and thus don't often blog.  I am also coming up on the anniversary of my mother's death, so there's that as well.  Last week and this are all filled with little unpleasant memories of her final days.  Last week was when she had her fall, the last time I could speak coherently with her, although she was often more than half out of it.  Now she spoke her last.  Now we watched and waited.  Now my sister- never mind.  It is past, and private.

But, speaking of the past, I have been researching for the second half of my Brief History.  I have been looking into the Jubilee Riots by reading the newspapers of the period.  It is taking far longer than I had anticipated, but it is, in its own way fascinating.  The articles with their diction and grammar are vastly different from the papers of today, in that they seemed to practice both grammar and interesting diction.  The papers also nakedly politically slanted, unlike today. (*Ahem*).  The Mail had several articles about the first riot and its aftermath. Today I was reading an article from the Saturday edition of that newspaper, published one day before the second and greater of the two riots   The article details a meeting held at St Lawrence Hall the night before, the purpose of which was to prevent further riots.   I started taking notes from the article and ended up transcribing about two thirds of the whole thing, breaking off just before it became extremely interesting.  I may republish the entire article here, although it is most likely I am the only one interested.  I am also looking forward to tracking down the articles from the other newspapers, including the Globe, the Mirror, and the one I really want to sink my teeth into- The Irish Canadian.  I am sure it will have an interesting viewpoint and won't bother itself, as the other papers did, with exonerating the Protestants.

9 October 2017

Thankful in all things.

Today is the Canadian Thanksgiving.  Last year's thanksgiving was the last time I saw my mother before her fall. I am grateful I did see her that last time.

For other instances of gratitude, here's Matthew Henry reflecting on being robbed:

"Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."

And here's a reprint of a story my mother told me:

Sometime in the 1940's, my grandfather, who was a groundskeeper and undertaker for our old church, ran into the Monsignor in the churchyard. Monsignor was looking at his hand with a puzzled look on his face. "What is the matter?" asked my grandfather.

"I was just given two dollars by Mrs Donnelly to say a Mass of Thanksgiving..." he began.

Mrs. Donnelly was a cheerful woman who had made a foolish mistake when she chose her husband. Mr Donnelly was one of the town's chief drunks. He was well known for getting on the bus and yelling "Charge!" as he staggered towards the seat at the rear of the bus. He was unemployed and, due to his drinking, unemployable. One of the few jobs he ever did hold was as a dance caller at the old dances that used to be held in town. It was neither regular nor lucrative.

The two had only one child, who learned drinking and irresponsibility from his father. They lived in poverty in their house, such as it was, and in the winter the three of them slept together in the same bed to keep each other warm, so they could save on wood or coal.

With the war, things got a little better for Mrs Donnelly. Like most women of her time, she could not find work that would allow her to support her familyunder normal circumstances, but with the demand for war labour she did find employment at a local rifle range. With her money she even managed to save enough to buy herself a few luxuries- a radio and a washing machine. Things were looking up.

And then Mrs Donnelly was diagnosed with cancer. She went to the hospital to have it removed, and when she returned to her home, she found that her husband and son had taken her radio and washing machine and had sold them to a pawn shop to pay for more drink. Not long after, the son murdered a man in a botched attempted robbery, and was sent to prison. He later gained notoriety as one of the first men to escape Kingston Penitentiary. (He escaped by sewing himself into a mail bag.)

Monsignor looked at the money in his hand. "I was just given two dollars by Mrs Donnelly to say a Mass in Thanksgiving," he said. "But for the life of me, I can't think of what she has to be thankful for."