A Mass to celebrate with the children from Tredegarville and a lunchtime funeral at St German's today. There wasn't enough time in between them to return home, so I spent extra time in the Day Centre, as well as preparing for the funeral.
As is often the case these days, we're asked by bereaved families if it's OK to have secular recorded music for the entry and exit from church, usually meaning some kind of pop music. We're happy to go along with that, even if there are often problems playing music from CDs incompatible with twenty five year old CD players installed as part of the church's sound system. Sometimes people bring their own devices, other times it's up to us to see what we can do with material provided.
On this occasion, I was emailed three separate MP3 files to use. There was no way to attach a digital to the St German's PA system, but I figured out a work-around solution using wireless microphones and the Sony portable CD playing device I gave Clare for Christmas. As well as playing standard CDs this will also play other digital media CDs created on a computer from downloads. Reluctant to put this to the test for a first outing, given the physical problems of controlling it whilst officiating at the service, played the MP3 files from my Nexus Tablet - all visible to switch to on a single screen. A cable from the headphone jack to the line-in socket on the back of the portable CD player produced a good quality of sound, which could be distributed around the church by the PA system's amplifier and loudspeakers.
Setting the sound levels just right and distortion free was easy, with a little patient attention to detail, and best of all, I could keep the tablet close at hand without it attracting attention. All I had to ensure then was that batteries powering microphones and tablet were fully charged for the half hour of use in the service. I was particularly pleased with the rendering of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Pie Jesu', set at the right level to take advantage of St German's beautifully pure acoustic. With everything easily under my control, I was able to relax and give my my best, without feeling I was juggling bits and pieces.
We were treated to a shower of hail as we were leaving church, but the weather was quite different at Thornhill just four miles away when we arrived for the interment. It was cloudy, but sunny and bright, which made it possible for mourners to linger and chat in a relaxed way when it was all over. Later I had an appreciative text message from on behalf of the family the son of the deceased. Pleased to know it helped them. Sometimes, whatever effort you make, nothing seems to help alleviate the burden of loss for people at that time, but making the effort when people are suffering is what counts in the end.