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Choosing the right music for a funeral

14th January 2016   Advice Funerals

The songs at a funeral can be incredibly powerful and personal. It’s no secret that music provides comfort and healing, and that is no different at a funeral. Music has long been part of funeral services, as far back as Ancient Greece. However, at such a difficult time, choosing the right music can be a painful and confusing task. Here is some guidance on how to make it easier. Remember, as well, that the funeral directors will likely be able to provide some help.

Deciding on music

Funeral Music

Choose songs that reflect the person’s life and will help mourners grieve and celebrate your loved one. Songs can provide comfort at a time of great difficulty, and can make people feel closer to a lost friend or family member. Music that serves as a reminder of how important he or she is can help uplift a bittersweet memory of a loved one.

What kind of music did your loved one enjoy? There are wonderful, poignant songs in nearly all music genres, and there is no reason to stick with the typical playlist. By selecting songs that had great personal meaning to the deceased, you can offer a powerful and moving memorial to that person. Music can compel in ways that the spoken word cannot, and the familiarity of a well-known song can make a moving tribute even more powerful.

Think about the tone you want to set for the service, or for the different parts of the service. Will it be formal or more modern? Do you want a sense of quiet reflection and meditation or a celebration of life? These distinctions can help you focus on the music that best suits.

If you are struggling to decide on the appropriate songs, asking other family members or friends can help make it easier. Reminisce over your loved one’s life and share your memories. Family and friends can provide more insight and help during a difficult time, and they will likely be honoured that you’ve asked for their input.

Before using any music with lyrics, be sure listen to the song completely and read through all the words. You can easily find song lyrics online, and many songs can also be previewed on the internet.

You don’t need to choose a song that people recognise, nor does it need to have lyrics. Popular or even lesser-known instrumental music can provide a beautiful background to the memorial and can save you from having to ensure the lyrics and tone are appropriate for the service.

If you’re still unsure what to pick, speak to the funeral directors, who can guide you towards popular choices of music and help you source them. You can also find compilations online that might help narrow down the choice, such as this list of popular songs:



Preparing for the day

Normally at a service, three pieces of music are played. One is played on entry, another for quiet reflection during the ceremony, and the last during the committal, or the final farewell. Most services are 30 minutes, and so choosing songs that are around three minutes long will make up one-third of the memorial.

In most cases, funeral homes have the facilities to play CDs or music files (such as MP3s) on their sound systems without issue, but you are better off confirming this in advance to save yourself unnecessary frustration.

It’s important to ensure that the songs you choose are the correct versions, as many songs have been covered or have alternate versions. Discovering you have accidentally chosen the wrong version of a song in the moment is an unnecessary level of stress that you can easily avoid by confirming all songs before handing over any CDs or music files.

Often, your funeral director will request the songs at least three days in advance, so they have time to prepare and make sure it all runs smoothly on the day. Let them know the order of the songs, as they are normally included in the Order of Service.

Talk to the funeral directors or celebrant to confirm who is in charge of the music, so you can be sure it is ready to be played at the right place and the right time.

Planning a funeral can be a daunting and painful task. However, choosing music for the service is an opportunity to think back on positive memories and consider how your loved one would want to be remembered. No matter what, the important thing is that you feel comfortable with the process, and are content that your family member is being honoured in the best way.

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