Lockdown changed the way funerals were held in the UK literally overnight. From major gathering of sometimes hundreds of people in a church, they became a distanced groups of just close family and friends, if at all. Even as the Church of England announces that churches have the choice to host funerals after Monday (15 June), they will still need to be safe and observe health guidance and social distancing.
Funerals have changed beyond recognition since lockdown began. From large gatherings to celebrate a life with music and words, they have shrunk to just 10 or so close family members, sitting apart and unable to console each other. Some families can’t even attend in person, instead watching via a web video link as they sit in isolation at home.
There's something particularly moving about singing at the graveside.
I can sing outside thanks to our discreet portable backing track system, so I have professional accompaniment wherever I go. I don't need much else: just a space for me to stand on (preferably), somewhere to rest the speaker, so the mourners can hear and see me. I even sing from under an umbrella if necessary.
Choosing music for a Humanist or Civil Funeral can be a daunting task. You can have almost any type of music you wish, and there are no legal restrictions.
This song has surprised us by being a popular request for funerals. Not usual for opera.
Lascia ch'io pianga (Let me weep)
I never thought that a Handel aria would prove such a hit with people. I think it goes to prove if you have a great tune, then it doesn't matter when it was written it appeals to people.
We’ve totted up the numbers for 2018 and there were a few new entries into out chart list.
The composers or our chart toppers this year are separated by over 240 years. Goes to show if you get the tune right it will quickly become and remain a favourite for many and these men have that magic that makes a good tune!
Music at a funeral service is often one of the first things to be discussed, as music has a great effect on people’s emotions.
Singing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It may be you just don’t like to sing, or prefer to do so in the privacy of your own bathroom. That’s fine, until an occasion comes along where you feel you really should sing, like a wedding or a funeral.
There's something very special and particularly moving about singing at the graveside. It also seems to be a growing trend; we’ve sung at 5 gravesides this year alone, and with more enquiries in the pipeline too.
Without sounding too grand about it, singing at the final resting place for the person we’ve learned about during the funeral service feels like an honour. We’ve been with the family through the process of choosing funeral music, singing under an open sky (whatever the weather) feels like a natural end to our involvement.
Looking through our records of music sung at funerals brought to light some interesting insights into the most popular Catholic funeral songs and hymns.
What are the best funeral songs and hymns for a funeral for your mum? We’ve sung at over 100 funerals for much-loved mothers, so here’s our list of the top funeral music for mums.
So far this year we've sung over 100 individual songs and hymns for funerals, burials and memorials services. As you would expect, this total includes some of the most popular items, including:
When you’re organising a funeral, there isn’t always a lot of time to investigate lots of options for the service. So, you (and many families like you) may not even realise you can have live music at a funerals service. And that applies to the songs you and your loved one enjoyed, not just the hymns.
Our ability to sing a wide variety of songs at funeral services has led us to some unexpected gems and new favourites. Many of these started out as a one-off request for one family and have gone on to delight and comfort many others.
We've started to notice the trends in music played at funerals, with Adele exiting stage left to be replaced by Lilly Allen and others, but some classic pop versions last way beyond their moment in the charts.
Who exactly is a funeral for? This may seem an obvious question, but the answer isn't quite so straightforward. We believe a funeral service should celebrate a life well lived, offering the family and those who attend the chance to remember, to reflect as well as say goodbye. Therefore, the choice of music, readings and tributes should reflect their choices.
The Co-op’s recent survey of funeral music shows ‘My Way’ is still in the top spot, having featured on every survey conducted by the funeral service group.
Almost half of people make playlists for their own funerals well before they die. This alone shows how much people’s attitude to funerals is changing.
This is a new favourite of ours, a great funeral poem set to wonderful music. We knew of the poem, but the musical setting only came to our notice last year.
Statistics do make interesting reading, whether it's the number of votes politicians receive, or the number of songs we've sung at funerals!
Often people ask us which is the most popular song we've sung for a funeral, and yes, there is one that is requested far more than most, Schubert's Ave Maria.
At Singers for Funerals, families often request is to learn new songs to sing at services. We've already built up a wide repertoire of songs for funerals, from sacred staples such as Ave Maria and The Old Rugged Cross to cross-over classics such as Over The Rainbow and We'll Meet Again, but we're always happy to learn more.
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All our articles are written either by Toni or Kirsty. If you'd like to write a guest blog, just let us know!