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This guide will help you choose music for a funeral:


Popular songs for funerals

Some people choose live music for funerals, commemorating a person’s life with uplifting and happy songs. The choice is completely up to you, and depending on the rules of the church or crematorium, there really is no right or wrong.

As funerals become more tailored to reflect the life of the person who has sadly passed away, families are opting for contemporary songs to be played at the service.

Some of the most popular songs for funerals include:

    • My Way – Frank Sinatra
    • Angels – Robbie Williams
    • Simply the Best – Tina Turner
    • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
    • Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle (Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’)
    • Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
    • You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers

 

Popular hymns for funerals

Some of the most popular hymns for funerals include:

    • The Lord’s My Shepherd (Psalm 23)
    • Abide with Me
    • All Things Bright and Beautiful
    • Amazing Grace
    • How Great Thou Art
    • Jerusalem
    • Old Rugged Cross

 

Popular classical music for funerals

Classical music remains a popular choice for funerals, setting the stage for an emotional and moving service. Choosing the right piece of classical music is a personal choice, though there are a few popular ideas.

Some of the most popular classical pieces of music for funerals include:

    • Canon in D – Paachelbel
    • Nimrod from Enigma Variations – Elgar
    • The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
    • Ave Maria – Schubert
    • Pie Jesu – Fauré
    • Adagio – Albinoni
    • Air on a G String – Bach

Tomaso Albinoni

Adagio in G Minor

A very beautiful and soothing composition, Albinoni’s Adagio has become one of the most popular classical pieces to be played at funerals. Its calm nobility has often been used to add emotion to films and advertising.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No.208 Sheep May Safely Graze

A gentle and calming composition that would allow mourners an interval in the service to pause and remember the life of their loved one. Bach was a family man with 20 children who dedicated his life to music, once walking 200 miles to hear a fellow organist.

Samuel Barber

Adagio for Strings

A spiritually uplifting piece of music, Barber’s intention was that this noble composition would demonstrate respect, admiration and love for other men and has been used to enhance the atmosphere of numerous films. This would be an ideal choice of music for a family to remember and pay tribute to their father.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Für Elise

Für Elise is the more common name for one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions, the Bagatelle in A Minor for Solo Piano. The identity of Elise is unknown but from the music the listener is in no doubt that she was beautiful and demure. The sentiment of this composition has meant that it is often used at funerals to remember a female partner.

Claude Debussy

Claire du Lune

Debussy has often been described as the master of subtlety and nuance. Claire de Lune translates as Light of the Moon and the ingenuity of this composition lies in the ease with which you can imagine the moon appearing slowly from behind a cloud as the music reveals its full sensuality. A perfect musical piece to provide a few moments of reflection during the service.

Edward Elgar

Nimrod from 'Enigma' variations

Enigma Variations – musical portraits of the composer’s friends and relatives – was Elgar’s first success even though he was over 40 years old at the time. This solemn yet uplifting music has been played on numerous state occasions, when its restrained grandeur has never failed to create a deep impression.

Gabriel Fauré

Pavane

Fauré’s music was usually restrained and nowhere more so than in this gentle, undulating theme where he took a traditional French slow dance and added a melancholy melody. A very feminine piece of music that has been used to advertise soap and perfume, this composition could be used for the funeral service of a mother or wife.

Johann Pachelbel

Canon for Strings and Continuo

A simple yet haunting canon – a piece of music for several instruments which each enter after each other, playing the same music at the same tempo. The three violins begin playing long notes which gradually get faster and faster until the exact middle of the piece, when it then slows at the same tempo. A dignified composition that would be particularly suitable for the funeral service of a person who had led a long and full life.

Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Amazing Grace

This well-known, well-loved hymn was written by Rev. John Newton in 1773 after he miraculously survived a storm at sea. The recording by the pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1972 spread its popularity and this piece of music was played at funerals and memorial services for members of the New York Police and Fire Departments following the attacks of September 11 2001. The history of this hymn makes it a popular choice for those who are proud of their Scottish origins.

Erik Satie

Gymnopédie No.3

Satie wrote three piano pieces called Gymnopédies – slow dances of classical Greek inspiration. The music’s soothing and tranquil qualities make it ideal as a means to pay tribute to the life of a loved one.

Things to consider

Almost any music can be played at the funeral as long as copyright restrictions do not apply. Commonly, people choose hymns or play a CD of a favourite song or piece of classical music.

Most of our crematoria have a full digital music library available to choose from. Please speak to your local Funeral Director to find out more.

We also recommend you discuss the choice of music with whoever is leading the ceremony beforehand, out of courtesy and to avoid any disappointment.

Our funeral experts will be able to give you all the support and advice you need when it comes to making necessary funeral music arrangements. Whether it’s sourcing music or assembling a choir, we will help you every step of the way.

 

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