Oh 'Danny Boy,' the pipes, the organ pipes, aren't playing

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2001

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- ''Danny Boy'' is a staple of Irish-American home life, sung to children in lullaby tones and boomed as a raucous send-off at wakes.

But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence says it has no place at a funeral Mass.

When a Rhode Island church recently refused to allow the ballad to be played at a funeral, it prompted a spate of letters to the editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Providence Visitor.

Catholic doctrine dictates that Mass be reserved for liturgical music because it is a time to give praise to God.

The Rev. Peter J. Andrews, director of worship at the diocese, said restrictions on music have long been disputed, but only recently have they been debated so publicly.

He's planning on sending out a letter, or forming a workshop, to remind parish music directors about the church rules.

''It's becoming more and more of a question as far as what's appropriate,'' he told The Providence Journal, adding he once had a request for a song from ''Phantom of the Opera'' at a funeral.

Many Irish Americans have a special connection with ''Danny Boy'' -- formally known as ''Londonderry Air.''

Charles McKenna, a ''retired Irish cop and proud of it,'' from Providence, said in a letter to the Visitor that he wants ''Danny Boy'' played at his funeral.

''And if it isn't, I'm going to get up and walk out,'' McKenna said. ''We're not talking about 'Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder.'''

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