This is for anyone knowledgeable about liturical norms in the Episcopal Church . . .
Watching the President's funeral now, and can't help noticing certain things that differ from a standard Catholic funeral:
* The family all preceded the casket into the church, rather than follow it in (maybe due to practical considerations);
* The color guard preceded the casket, and the national flag remained on the casket (in a Catholic funeral, the flag would come off at the doors, and a pall, recalling the baptismal garment, would be placed on the casket. The flag could be replaced on the casket when it returns to the doors at the conclusion of the liturgy). I don't know the exact rules about a color guard, although I can hardly imagine it; it seems to me it would remain behind at the doors as well.
* I didn't notice any sprinkling of the casket with baptismal water.
* I also noted the procession was silent, except for one of the clergy reciting some verses; would there ever be provision for that to be sung?
* The opening collect was also recited. No surprise, but disappointing -- the cleric couldn't sing that?
* Former President Bush just got up to offer comments...
* Four eulogies! That doesn't surprise me, that sort of thing happens at Catholic funerals, although it shouldn't. I am surprised at the sequence; if this were a Catholic, non-Eucharistic liturgy, they wouldn't come at this point.
* Now, the Gospel? Is this usual for an Episcopal, state funeral?
* The Rev. Dr. Robert Certain appears to be an officer in the military -- he has medals on his stole!
* Now the Our Father is sung by a soloist. Someone correct me, but this is something mainline Protestant churches often do, isn't it? A while back, I had someone ask about having the Our Father sung as a solo at a Mass, and I said no, we always pray it together. Can anyone tell me otherwise? Prior to the reform of the liturgy, would this have been done in a Catholic liturgy?
* Now the petitions of the people; is this sequence -- i.e., after the Lord's Prayer -- normal?
* A note on the location, the Episcopal National Cathedral. It's every bit as stunning as it seems on TV. But when I visited one time, a few years back, noting all the political stuff, I thought, "we don't have an established church in this country, but I wonder sometimes if the Episcopal Church got the memo?" Occasions like this certainly reinforce that impression.
(By the way, if you watched, and you are wondering where the altar is, I believe it is usually where the casket was placed, although there is a "high altar" back in the apse. I have no idea if that is ever used.)
* "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" -- anyone have an objection to this hymn? It isn't clear whether the congregation was invited or even helped in singing it (do they have the words or a hymn number in their programs?)
* It is a shame they didn't use incense.
* Where is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kathryn Shiori? Has she not been installed yet? That wasn't she, holding the book for the cleric doing the commendation? And how come they didn't have servers to hold books for the clergy?
* Now, with the closing hymn -- "For All the Saints" -- everyone seems to be singing. Too bad they weren't given the opportunity previously.
I don't know if anyone reading this got a chance to see this funeral, but if you did, feel free to let me know what you think. And certainly, anyone familiar with the Episcopal Church -- I'm curious to know how this squares with norms in the Episcopal Church.
Update: Two commenters think I am being critical of the Episcopal Church, comparing its rites unfavorably to Catholic pratices.
I am sorry that anything I said gave that impression; however, I think if one attends closely to what I said, you will see that is not the case. Yes, I did offer some mild criticism: "disappointing" that the cleric didn't sing the opening prayer; a "shame" that they didn't use incense; and "too bad" folks weren't encouraged to do more congregational singing.
However, none of these represent Catholic v. Episcopal ways of doing things! I.e., it's not true that Catholics sing prayers more often, or use incense more. If anything, I wouldn't be surprised to find it the other way round.
Yes, I did contrast this funeral with the Catholic way of doing it; but the reason is, that's what I know. It would have been pretty foolish of me to try to compare this with Episcopal norms, as I might guess about them, but I have no idea what they really are. That's why, at the very opening of this post, I asked for those who are knowledgeable about such things to give me their comments.
Really, I think some folks are hyper-sensitive.