Words & Music :
The Board places no restriction on how your time in the chapel is used and you should be free to suggest any prayers, readings, poetry
and eulogies, in consultation with your officiant if you have one, that you think will be most appropriate for the occasion.
William Congreve, the eighteenth century poet wrote, “Music alone with sudden charms can bind the wand’ring sense and calm the troubled
mind”. Music can play an important part in the service and can mean so much to relatives and friends. With this in mind and his experience
of hundreds of funeral services, Victor Henry, one of three organists who plays regularly at Mortlake has prepared the following advice which
you may find useful.
As in church, music at the Crematorium should reflect both the taste and wishes of the deceased and family. Hymns, favourite pieces, classical or popular, may be used within the allotted time. There is generally time for only two hymns during a service and the choice is restricted to those found in our Red (Hymns Ancient and Modern) or Green (Order of Service) books. Those wishing to use hymns which are not found in either book will need to provide separate words for the congregation and these could be printed on a specially prepared Order of Service for the congregation. It is worth noting that Victorian hymns such as ‘Abide with me’ and ‘The day Thou gavest’ continue to top the polls of favourite hymns despite the great corpus of new material now available. With regard to the latter the hymn ‘O Lord My God’ (How Great Thou Art) is now firmly placed with those most often chosen. The guiding principle in selecting hymns should be based on family association, recollection and memories. Above all, they must be ‘singable’.
Organ Music :
Mortlake Crematorium is one of the few which can boast a real pipe organ. Played from the gallery, and therefore out of sight, the instrument was built by John Hayward Compton in 1939. During the last year it has been fully restored by Bishop and Son of Beethoven Street in west London. Although of modest specification it works well in our excellent acoustic. Three professional organists are available on the crematorium rota and they should be advised in advance, via the crematorium office, of any special requests. Relatives of the deceased usually want organ voluntaries to be played at the beginning (as people enter) and at the end (as people exit) of the service. A short extemporisation by the organist is generally best at the ‘committal’ part of the service - when the curtains close around of the coffin. Visiting organists are also most welcome.
The Crematorium has a first-class sound system for CD’s which is particularly suitable for the orchestral
repertoire, major choral works and popular music of the day. The senior attendant, usually Bill Arbery, is happy to receive them just
prior to the service provided that it is clearly indicated which and at which point each track should be played.
Soloists & Rehearsals :
As an alternative to congregational singing (or as well as) visiting soloists are welcome to perform from a
wide repertoire of suitable pieces. Instrumental music for brass, strings or harp can also be used with good effect. The Crematorium
organists will be pleased to advise on the engagement of professional soloists. Mortlake is a relatively busy crematorium but time can
always be found for a rehearsal prior to the service.
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