Choosing music for a funeral
As the established traditions that once surrounded British funerals have relaxed, one of the most obvious changes has been the range of music now heard at services. Where once, the only music played at a funeral would have been traditional hymns like ‘Abide with me’, these have completely disappeared from the funeral music top ten.
Many modern funerals blend the sad acknowledgment of a loved one’s passing with the more joyful celebration of a life well lived. This focus on the individual has led to the musical tastes of the deceased playing a much bigger part, especially at the beginning and at the end of services. Because musical taste is a very personal thing, care is needed choosing the music for someone else’s funeral. Ideally, the tracks chosen will have a strong meaning for the deceased, but they also need to reflect the poignancy of the funeral service and honour the memory of a loved one lost.
Think about your loved one’s favourite songs or the types of music they listened to. Ask friends and family what songs come to mind when they think about the deceased? Have a look at their music collection, CDs, iPod or playlists and see if anything stands out. Choosing different types of music for different parts of the service may also help mourners focus on their memories of the deceased during the service, but then leave feeling more uplifted and positive.
If the songs you are choosing are not familiar to you, it’s worth listening to them before you finalise your choice, or even researching the lyrics online. Although some songs are remembered positively, the lyrics can be surprisingly inappropriate for a funeral. Avoid the temptation of the musical joke and choose music that supports mourners in thinking about the person being remembered, and may even offer some comfort at a difficult time.
A 2019 survey of funeral directors confirmed the shift in choice of funeral music with traditional hymns giving way to pop. The current top ten are:
- My Way – Frank Sinatra
- Time to Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
- Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
- Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
- Angels – Robbie Williams
- Supermarket Flowers – Ed Sheeran (a tribute to his late Grandmother)
- Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
- You Raise Me Up – Westlife
- We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle (Monty Python)
The research shows that around a quarter of UK adults say they have already made clear which music they would like at their funeral. This has risen from a fifth the last time the survey was conducted in 2016.
To make enquiries about a personalised pre-paid funeral plan, please contact Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton on 01704 542 993.