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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

May 10, 2017

Organist funeral fees (2)

evelyn @ 1:31 pm

A number of readers have consulted an earlier post on this blog looking for advice on funeral fees. I’d like to add a word or two to that, especially for those in Catholic parishes where opinions on what is due to the funeral organist vary widely.

The Scottish Federation of Organists sets out financial guidelines for organists which include a recommended funeral fee (quoted there as ‘Additional Service/Deputy Fee’).  No doubt similar organisations in other countries do the same. It is useful to know this when one is asked to play in a different church. Protestant churches, which pay their organists, are usually aware of the SFO funeral rate, as are undertakers. Many Catholic churches sadly have no idea at all.

At one time, when asked by a priest about my fee for a funeral in his parish, I would quote the SFO rate. Now, I respond by asking him what the parish rate is, and if it’s lower, I’ll probably accept it. If he doesn’t know, I will suggest he consults the undertaker.

I adopted this rather wary procedure following a most unfortunate affair in a distant parish a long time ago. Asked by the priest for my fee, I quoted the SFO recommended rate, giving my source for this figure. He looked quite shocked, and shortly afterwards phoned to say it was too high, and I wouldn’t be required. I hoped he hadn’t spoken of this with the bereaved family, but I feared he had, and I felt really dreadful.

For the next funeral in that parish, the priest had obviously decided to leave the matter of organist and fee to the undertaker. What he didn’t know was that the undertaker in question (a) charged exactly the SFO rate and (b) had me as an employee.

I have never seen anyone so disconcerted as that priest when I turned up. But I felt vindicated.

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