Every year in May, Dying Matters promote a fantastic range of events and activities around the country. The aim is to get people talking about dying, death and bereavement and making plans for their end of life; known as Dying Matters Awareness Week.
Choosing funeral songs can be difficult, and even more so if you're choosing for a Roman Catholic Funeral.
We have sung at a number of Roman Catholic funerals, when there has been some confusion beforehand about what music may be sung during a requiem mass.
Many people wish to celebrate a loved one's life with music that is special to them. So families have been surprised by the restrictions on the type and content of the songs and hymns which are considered acceptable for a funeral mass in the Catholic church.
An issue that has come to light is if a funeral takes place during Lent, some priests have insisted there's no music at all in the church.
(This is what caused me to do the investigation and call the Catholic Church to get a definite answer).
There appears to be a plethora of new hymns arriving each year. Every church we sing in has another new 'favourite' that we at Singers for Funerals need to learn, and I am truly amazed at this fact.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Our singers were scurrying about like a mouse.
As, hats on their heads, and music held tight
They brave the cold darkness of Farnborough at night.
We do love to sing, so tonight, it's not pub
But a church lit with candles and glowing with love
We'll sing of good tidings and shepherds and kings
Then dash swiftly home to wrap up last things!
Our hope is quite simple, but very sincere
We wish you Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Best wishes for the Yuletide season from soprano Toni, mezzo Kirsty and office assistant spaniel Truffle.
Here at Singers for Funerals, we love the trend towards personalised order of service booklets, complete with family pictures and poems. However, we have also noticed a problem with hymns words differing from what is printed in most hymns books, and sometimes complete rearrangements of verses, to the point where even the organist gets confused!
As I sat last night watching the memorial services from Belgium and Westminster Abbey, it set me thinking about how right it is that we mark this occasion suitably. The next 4 years will bring many memorial events to the forefront of life in the 21st century.
We've sung at a many Catholic funeral masses recently, and the choice of hymns has set us thinking.
There are so many different hymns in the hymn books(the Laudate has over 900 listed). Most churches have a repertoire of favourite hymns that suit the priest, congregation and musicians but sometimes these are not the most popular or well known.
Kevin Mayhew of Kevin Mayhew Publishing has started a debate on Hymn singing and the keys they are sung in. He says that many people say ‘We can’t sing up there’, and states that research shows the human singing voice has dropped over the last century.
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.
It’s not often we have competition for sound-space at a funeral, apart from the occasional helicopters or low-flying planes.
What's the nation's most popular hymn? Viewers of BBC TV's Songs of Praise chose their favourite from a list of 100 traditional and modern hymns during spring 2013.
In mid-2012, a young singer uploaded a song about losing her father in a car accident onto YouTube. It became a viral hit with those grieving their own loss, and after exposure on Smooth Radio, it suddenly became THE song to play at funerals.
Baroness Thatcher planned her funeral with the same thoroughness and patriotic spirit that marked her three terms as Prime Minister.
We are often asked to sing songs in a service that are special to the family, and we in turn enjoy sharing readings and poems chosen by the family to celebrate a loved one's life.
Our first venture into the wonderful world of infographics, showing the top songs we sing at funerals and which are more popular, hymns or songs.
The latest survey of funeral music by the Co-operative Funeral Care reveals that two thirds of funerals feature pop music rather than classical or religious music. Only 30% of funerals featuring hymns as opposed to 41% in their 2005 survey.
Much of our time before a funeral service is spent chatting to the organist, and it amazes us how often the family has not made provision for entry and exit music for the service.
One of the questions we get asked a lot at Singers for Funerals is, how much music do we need at a funeral service?
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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!