What's the first thing you think of when you imagine a funeral? For many people, it's the choice of funeral music; increasingly, as funerals become more of a celebration of life rather than just a sad mourning event, the music, in whole or in part, is very different to the sombre or overtly religious traditional music of old.
The role of funeral music
As well as reflecting the deceased's interests and personality, music, be it as traditional as 'Nimrod' or as contemporary as the Robbie Williams song 'Angels', plays a key role during the funeral service or a Celebration of a life.
At different stages of the ceremony, music can do one or more of the following things:
- Set the mood as mourners arrive
- Provide a background for quiet contemplation
- Reflect the deceased's personality or interests
- Follow set religious or cultural conventions
- Accompany key events such as the committal of the body
From its simplest use to the most elaborate arrangement, and across religions and cultures, music undoubtedly has a place in almost every funeral. Not just sad funeral songs either, but the full range of music to capture every facet of someone's life.
How to choose the music for a funeral
Nowadays, funeral music is about much more than just traditional organ music. With more and more venues having the means to play specific music, tailoring music to your exact wishes has never been easier. Whether it's for the funeral march, at the graveside, or even at a post-funeral wake, there's a place for many different kinds of music.
Choosing music for funerals usually involves combining one or more of the following:
- The known preferences of the deceased
- Music that friends and family feel reflects the deceased's life and personality
- Traditional music dictated by convention
Sources of funeral music are diverse and include the following:
- Personal music collections
- Online resources
- Traditional funeral songs
- Music or a funeral song heard at another funeral
- Advice from religious ministers or funeral directors
- The documented personal wishes of the deceased.
Increasingly, modern funerals and celebrations of a life successfully combine religious funeral songs and secular favourites. Depending on the regional background of the deceased, do not forget Irish funeral music ('The Londonderry Air'), Scottish funeral music with a piper, or maybe one of the classic Welsh funeral hymns such as 'Crug y bar'.
Examples of popular funeral music and burial songs
Examples of popular funeral hymns
- 'The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want' (Psalm 23)
- 'The Old Rugged Cross'
- 'Love Divine, All Loves Excelling'
- 'Abide with Me'
- 'Our God Our Help in Ages Past'
Classical music suitable for funerals
- Edward Elgar's 'Nimrod'
- 'Ave Maria' from Verdi's Otello
- 'Adagio for Strings' by Samuel Barber
- Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata
- Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma'
Modern funeral songs
- 'Cabaret' (Liza Minelli)
- 'Angels' (Robbie Williams)
- 'Candle in the Wind' (Elton John)
- 'Tears from Heaven' (Eric Clapton)
- 'The Way we Were' (Barbra Streisand)
Whatever the choices, good funeral songs are always chosen to suit the special personality or preference of the deceased, and the way the mourners feel about them and their parting.
What'll be playing at your funeral?
Perhaps you're looking for songs to play at a funeral? Or maybe, having realised the benefits of documenting your personal funeral preferences, you are starting to plan your own funeral.
It's never too early to capture your wishes for the funeral hymn, music or favourite song that you'd like included at your send-off. Perhaps it's important to have a song by a particular artist, a poignant hymn, or a much-loved classical piece. Or maybe you're set on having one of the 'alternative' or 'funny funeral songs' such as 'Always Look on The Bright Side of Life'?
Whatever you want, The Well Planned Funeral's Your Funeral Plans and Wishes product makes it easy to ensure that your funeral music wishes are fulfilled. You'll also be making things easier for those you leave behind by freeing them from otherwise agonising decisions about what you'd have liked.
Other Factors to Consider
Would you like to compose a short reading but not sure how to write a eulogy? How about a poem to read at a funeral? Do you need help planning the order of service for a funeral? What are the traditional funeral flowers?