Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2003
Why was the Last Post not played at a funeral?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
Those who died remain as the stars in the sky and always will be remembered by those left behind.
Originally, the Last Post was sounded at sunset but more recently, it has taken place at 8 p.m.
It appears that there is another song called Reveille or Rouse often played with the Last Post. Sometimes, the Last Post begins the silence and Reveille ends it.
In Australia, the Last Post is sounded at 10 p.m. to inform soldiers they should be in their quarters for the night. But it is also sounded at military funerals and memorial services.
In the U.S., Taps is played rather than the Last Post. Although there are no official words to Taps, a popular version bids farewell to the departed soldier along with a prayer for safekeeping and rest in God.
Although usually we hear only the music for the Last Post, I thought it would be interesting to check out the words to see if these may render it improper at the Eucharistic Liturgy in Church.
The words speak of England as a mother mourning her children who have died in the cause of freedom and who are buried far from England's shores. They praise the young who went to war joyfully but who no longer grace us with their presence.
However, those who died remain as the stars in the sky and always will be remembered by those left behind. It is a tribute to those who have died in the service of country and its theme is basically "we will remember them."
Quite touching words, I'd say. However, no prayer is uttered to God for those who have died and actually no mention is made of God at all. In a general sense, it is really something like a eulogy which testifies to the life of the individual who has died, only it does this in a more general sense.
Although we have seen Catholic funerals for prominent people on TV where eulogies are given during the Mass, the Church prefers that the eulogy be given at the Vigil or before or after the Mass rather than during the Mass.
This is because the funeral Mass is not meant to praise the dead, except inasmuch as they lived the Gospel but as a communal celebration of the Eucharist and the homily generally reflects on the Scripture readings.
The Last Post having no mention of God could be considered like the eulogy. This may be one of the reasons the Last Post was not allowed at this particular funeral.
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