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PALL

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PALL

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:24 pm

• pall •

Pronunciation: pôl • Hear it!

Parts of Speech: Noun & Verb

Meaning: 1. [Noun] The cloth covering over a casket. 2. [Noun] Any covering that obscures vision, as a pall of fog over the valley. 3. [Noun] A glum mood, as a pall of sadness that fell over the festivities. 4. [Verb] To make or become flat, stale, insipid, or boring.
Notes: Today's seemingly simple fellow is far more complex it seems. This word has two senses and grammatical functions (noun and verb) that are totally unrelated. It is, in fact, two lexical orphans, neither having suffixed or prefixed forms other than the regular forms of tense and number.

In Play: The nominal senses of this Good Word are probably familiar: "Mortimer dismayed the mourners by exclaiming, 'The whole casket? I thought pall-bearers only carried the pall!'" The verb, however, is often confused with to pale. They are not synonymous, though: "The Pepsi™ in his glass had palled from standing out too long." Other things pall, too: "Phoebe felt the conversation beginning to pall after an hour trying to escape the topic of men."

Word History: In fact, we have two words here. The noun comes from Old English pæll "cloak, covering" from Latin pallium "cloak, altar cloth". The verb, however, split off from appall, which comes from Old French apalir "to grow faint", ultimately from Latin pallere "to grow pale". The root here is akin to pale and pallid, both from Latin. The same root (*pel- "pale, gray") surfaced with a suffix in Old Germanic; English inherited it as falcon and Latin borrowed it as falco "falcon". Greek polios "gray" shares the same source. We see that word in English poliomyelitis, from Greek polios + myelos "marrow" + -itis "inflammation". (Today we thank John M. Dunlap for helping us lift the pall of mystery from this remarkably Good Word.)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Oct 02, 2005 5:10 pm

Makes one wonder if the pall on the casket was not ritually designed precisely to «obscure vision», perhaps more from the inside out than from the outside in....

Henri
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Postby gailr » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:58 pm

I can only speak to mainstream Christian traditons, where the color and either style or absence of ornament varies with different denominations, from stark, hemp-colored linen to heavy black draperies and religious symbols.

I was taught that the religious purpose of an unornamented pall covering the casket is to remind funeral attendees that death is the great social leveler, where all are equal in the eyes of God.

Therefore, the practical purpose of casting a [plain] pall over the casket is to forestall distraction for those predisposed to calculating its cost and jumping to conclusions about the relative grief and/or inheritance of the survivors. Of course, open casket viewing ahead of time provides plenty of opportunity for this to occur anyway.

gailr,
who expects a simple casket like this, pall or no pall.
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Postby Stargzer » Mon Oct 03, 2005 12:39 am

The pall at my late aunt's church has the name of each of the deceased for whom it was used embroidered on it.
Regards//Larry

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Postby gailr » Mon Oct 03, 2005 8:57 pm

A nice idea with the pall, Stargazer.

Hmm, about the box...

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Postby KatyBr » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:56 am

people are creamated in a heavyduty cardboard box, then why must the family also buy a casket?

Kt
(one of those questions for the ages!)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:17 pm

KatyBr wrote:... then why must the family also buy a casket? ...


Morticians gotta live, too !...

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Postby tcward » Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:49 am

Of course, if you're cremated, the family doesn't have to buy an expensive casket... they get to choose from a lovely assortment of expensive urns, instead!

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:02 am

Ceremonies are, of course, for the living, not the dead, but to my mind, if urn it is to be, it should not be expensive with a high and glossy finish, but plain and simple earthenware marked by the hands of the potter - quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris....

Henri
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Postby gailr » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:29 pm

Nice touch, Henri.

On the other hand, I cannot resist posting a link to this, ah, "pall bear".

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Postby Garzo » Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:44 am

I do like the idea of using a funeral pall. However, a thing for expensive caskets put the pall out of buisness: the family wanted to show off the fine wood and brass they had provided. There is a part of me, though, that wonders whether covering a coffin is an attempt to distance ourselves from the reality of death.

Also, in church jargon, a pall is a small square of stiff cloth that is used to cover the communion chalice. Usually it is a white linen pocket with a flap into which a square of card is inserted to keep it rigid. I find it useful in the summer for making sure that flies don't end up in the chalice, and that may have been its original use. However, its major function has become the giving of shape to veiled Mass set. Traditionally, a larger square of embroidered cloth -- the veil -- is placed over the paten and chalice when they are not in use. The pall under the veil gives a nice square top to the whole so that the folds of the veil run out to the corners. Otherwise, the paten is round, and the veil would hang more limply from it: just so you know!

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:49 pm

Below I reproduce the entry found in the Catholic Encyclopedia regarding this ritual element ; I must confess myself disappointed with the lack of historical data presented therein. Does anyone - Garzo, perhaps - know how far back the use of this covering goes ? My suspicion, as mentioned above, is that its original significance was to protect the living from the magical, inimical gaze of the dead, but it would be interesting to see if there exist any data that could confirm or deny this assumption....

Henri

Pall

A heavy, black cloth, spread over the coffin in the church at a funeral, or over the catafalque at other services for the dead. In the centre of it there is generally a white or red cross. It must always be black, but its material and ornamentation may vary. Symbols of death, such as skulls, cross-bones etc., forbidden on the altar and ministers' vestments, are allowed on palls. The pall is in universal use, though not prescribed. Where, however, there is no catafalque or bier, absolution may not be given except a black cloth be extended on the floor of the sanctuary (S. R. C. 3535, 5)
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Re: PALL

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun May 26, 2013 9:36 pm

Found this while prowling also. I'm not sure I remember seeing and actual pall, though I've conducted several hundred funerals. Down here the florists have got into the game with family displays, often, but not always, roses or mums. Palls would be cheaper.
pl
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Re: PALL

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon May 27, 2013 12:28 am

I haven't conducted any funerals, Perry, but I have probably attended as many as you have. I have done a few eulogies. I was a deacon for thirty years and attended every funeral held at our church. I have been to only one Catholic funeral and there was a white pall over the casket. I have never seen a pall at a Protestant funeral although I have been to many from many denominations.

Caskets can be quite inexpensive if the family so chooses. The military will provide a free casket for any military veteran. It is made of fiberboard with a canvass cover. My mortician is my personal friend. He has shown me civilian caskets just like the military caskets but covered with a choice of fabrics.

To ease the burden of our survivors, my wife and I have our tombstone bought, engraved, and set in place. All that is lacking are the death dates. We have prepaid our funerals.
No matter what your age, you should have written instructions as to the disposition of your body.

One might think that pall and pallor are related but the etymologies I have read give the root of pall as a cloak or covering, and the root of pallor is the same as pale.

In “Casey at the Bat” there is a line “A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the patrons of the game.” A revisionist ruined the poem by saying “A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.” This same revisionist ruined the rest of this humorous little poem from the past.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: PALL

Postby MTC » Mon May 27, 2013 5:13 am

The Bible (Knox version) sees pall in black and white:

Black

the day wanes, and the light fades; night spreads her pall of darkness.
Proverbs 7:9

White

Now he spreads a pall of snow, covers earth with an ashy veil of rime, doles out the scattered crusts of ice, binds the waters at the onset of his frost.
Psalms 147:5
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