In the Order of Christian Funerals, there is a chapter, the 13th, dedicated to all the readings for funerals for adults. Following this is a brief chapter, the 14th, giving readings for “Funerals for Baptized Children.” The Scripture passages are mostly the same from the previous chapter. Shortened, though–which is an interesting choice. I suppose if many children attended a funeral for one of their peers, it would make sense for readings more comprehensible to younger persons. But the same might be said for the funeral of a teacher or mentor.
Anyway, one of two unique passages is this hymn of praise from the Psalter, the 148th. It has two possible antiphons:
Let all praise the name of the Lord.
And some verses arranged in four stanzas.
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host.
All earth’s kings and peoples,
earth’s princes and rulers;
young men and maidens,
old men together with children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord
for he alone is exalted.
The splendor of his name
reaches beyond heaven and earth.
He exalts the strength of his people.
He is the praise of his saints,
of the (children) of Israel,
of the people to whom he comes close.
Psalm 148 is one option for the Christian wedding. I’m thinking this text is more suitable for the sacrament than for the funeral. Why would this psalm have been suggested for a child’s funeral? Is it just the reference in stanza 2?
The death of a child is nearly always a tragedy. To praise God at such a time would take steel not in my makeup. And likely, not in the substance of many others. Does the reference to heaven make up for this? Perhaps, a little. The entire psalm is inclusive of both human persons and inanimate objects that make up God’s creation. Does that help a psalm like this get swallowed more easily? Perhaps.
That last stanza referring to God exalting the strength of his people: at the time of a girl’s or boy’s death, no question: we need that strength.