The Prelude should draw one into the service. In this instance, listening to "America the Beautiful" arranged by Carmen Dragon, I believed I was being drawn into a late 1930s Disney cartoon.
Luckily, Erik Wm. Suter was able to create a much more suitable prelude on the organ using America the Beautiful as a theme for a very refined improvisation.
But little does it matter on an occaision of such "civil religion", because there is a great deal of unscripted maneuvering that has to occur. There are a couple of band numbers after Suter's prelude and before Bishop Chane's reception of the body.
But from what I can tell from the streaming audio, and my memory of Ronald Reagan's funeral (11 June 2004), this manuevering music is performed from outside the cathedral, and so it is the organ that has the last word from the liturgical authorities.
There's only so much of the state that the church should let inside, really. And thank goodness for that. Only those of you who were able to watch on television will know whether George W. Bush was able to follow the verger this time. Judging from the audio, he does seem to get to the microphone very quickly.
The Old Testament Lesson, Isaiah 40:28:31 was also read at Reagan's funeral. This lection, however, is not perscribed by the Book of Common Prayer. Neither is the New Testament Lesson as it was read (through the first part of verse six, not the entire verse). So I have to agree that it was a silly case of scripture splicing, but I think it's unpastoral to hold Gerald Ford and his family to BCP rubrics on this reading, and not the other two.
Tangent: Robert Certain alluded to the 2006 General Convention in his sermon. Turns out he updated a blog during the convention.
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