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Top ten ideas for funeral songs

Posted by Debbie Skyrme on Friday 22nd May 2020
Top ten ideas for funeral songs

You may have no idea of what songs to choose for your loved one’s funeral. Listening to music can be a hard task when you are sad and grieving. Your celebrant is there to listen to your thoughts and ideas about what type of songs you may want to choose to pay tribute to your loved one during the funeral ceremony. They will support you and make suggestions to help you make the right choice. 

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How do you choose funeral music?

These days you can make your wishes known about your funeral before you die. You can ask a celebrant to visit you and create a script that includes your song choices. You and your family may already know your loved one’s favourite music, or you may have a song that you all enjoyed together that you want to share at the funeral.

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The best music to play at a funeral

Every funeral song choice will have a backstory as to why it has been chosen.

Planning a funeral is also an opportunity to reminisce - each tune will have a story that is so personal to the family's loved one and to those who mourn.

Here are the ten most popular songs that have been included in recent celebrant-led funerals. They range from classical pieces to more modern melodies and pop songs - there is no right kind of funeral music, only what is right for you.

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The ten most popular funeral songs

  1. ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ is a beautiful song.
    The duet sung in English and Italian by Andrea Bocelli with Sarah Brightman is the most popular rendition and is loved by people of all ages. This sad and heart-breaking melody is often played at the end of a funeral as you and your family sit and say your final goodbyes. 

  2. ‘My Way’ sung by Frank Sinatra continues to be one of the most popular choices for a funeral.
    The lyrics are about a man looking back fondly on a life he lived on his own terms and it’s these sentiments that may make it resonate so strongly with you as you share memories of your loved one with your family. 
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  3. ‘The Rose’ is another extremely popular song that you may pick for the funeral.
    The lyrics ask the question - what is love? Also, the flower is a symbol of love, much admired by many people. This touching song was first sung by Bette Midler for the film ‘The Rose’ and there are many popular covers including one sung by Westlife and a moving instrumental version played on the violin by Andre Rieu. 

  4. ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’ is another song sung by Bette Midler which is a firm favourite at funerals.
    The lyrics catch your emotions and the music is very uplifting.

  5. ‘Ave Maria’ – there are two songs by the same name that are both popular for funerals.
    There is the aria from ‘Otello’ the opera composed by Verdi and made famous by the 20th century soprano Maria Callas or the song that was composed by Schubert with words by Bach. The version sung by Celine Dion is well-known and there is also a modern version which is gaining in popularity by Beyoncé Knowles. This has additional words added by Beyoncé which give it a poignant edge. 
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  6. ‘Take Five’ played by the Dave Brubeck Quartet was released back in 1959 and is a jazz standard in its own right.
    It’s popular with families who choose it for loved ones who were teenagers in the 60’s.

  7. ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Norman Greenbaum is a famed pop song from the late 60’s.
    Years later, when Norman Greenbaum was interviewed about the song he mentioned how so many people from that era said it was their favourite song and wanted it playing at their funeral so that everyone could dance, cry and smile at the same time! 

  8. ‘Teddy Bear’ is one of countless songs from Elvis Presley that may be chosen by you to reflect the times when your loved one was enjoying their youth; maybe it was the song that was playing when your gran and granddad met. 
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  9. ‘Days’ of our lives’ - from Queen.
    This prolific band wrote songs over the years that can give you a wealth of ideas from which to choose.

  10. ‘Candle in the Wind’ sung by Elton John is just one of his great songs that are so often chosen for a funeral.
    Rewritten for the funeral of Princess Diana, this song chimes well as a piece for reflection when you and your family take time to think about your loved one and to say your personal goodbyes.

Music is incredibly personal, it reflects emotions and evokes memories and can be a very powerful element at a funeral or celebration of life.
Music and singing can be uplifting at a time of despair and soothing at a time of distress. This is just one of the ways your celebrant can help you totally personalise a ceremony.




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Featured Celebrant Susan Denton

Featured Celebrant Susan Denton

Susan gives those you love the best send off at their funeral by conducting a service that pays tribute to and celebrates their life. She describes herself as calm, friendly and supportive and will listen and create a service that reflects the personality and wishes of the deceased and also those of their family.

Read Susan's profile here

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