It's becoming more and more popular to have live music at funeral services. But which songs work best? Using our experience singing at funerals, we've put together a list of songs and pieces that can really transform a funeral.
Schubert's Ave Maria really is the number one top-hitter for funeral music. It's a classical piece with a stunning tune, and the best singers will find dazzling moments of delicacy in the top notes. We think it's particularly effective sung a cappella as the coffin makes its way into the venue, or as a thoughtful and focused piece during Communion.
We get more requests for Schubert's Ave Maria than for any other song. But did you know that there are several other versions of Ave Maria that are just as beautiful? Caccini's Ave Maria is written in a minor key, with a swelling mournful feel, and in Gounod's Ave Maria the composer set a new melody over a popular piece that had been composed by J.S. Bach 140 years earlier.
Cesar Francke's Panis Angelicus is another very popular piece for funerals, with a gentle melody and some beautifully tender cadences. It's a versatile piece, originally written for one tenor voice with harp, cello and organ, and later arranged for one soprano voice, for a soprano and tenor duo, and for a four-voice choir amongst others. It also works with or without instrumental accompaniment.
Abide With Me remains our most-requested hymn, followed closely by the classic patriotic Jerusalem, the thundering How Great Thou Art, and the gentler The Lord Is My Shepherd. Be careful with that last one though, as there are two very popular versions - one of which you might recognise as the theme tune of The Vicar of Dibley.
Frank Sinatra's My Way has always topped the lists of popular funeral songs, but as we're still waiting for someone to request it from us we're starting to wonder if it's slipping from the top spot. If you're looking for that classic crooner sound but a little more off the beaten track, you could go for Perry Como's For The Good Times or Englebert Humperdinck's The Last Waltz. Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again was also of course a classic pop song of its era, but we like to do something a little different with it - go to our Listen page to hear our singer's updated version.
Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler are firm favourites, especially Wind Beneath My Wings from the movie Beaches. We've found that a male tenor voice singing Streisand's The Way We Were is a great way to add something different to an old favourite. Check our Listen page to hear it, along with lots of other great song ideas.
"Wow! What a professional organisation. From the moment we spoke to Briony we knew we were in good hands and the performance of the selected choir of 12 made a huge difference to this extremely special service. Thank you."
Our singers range from classical soloists to West End performers and jazz singers, and we'll always find you the perfect voice, or voices, for your chosen piece.Listen now
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