More and more people are choosing a service that reflects the person and the sort of life they led, and it is becoming increasingly common to incorporate favourite musical compositions, both classical and contemporary, as part of the remembrance of a loved one.
Our suggestions here may help to inspire you, and your funeral director will be pleased to offer further advice on this most personal and sensitive of subjects.
JS Bach – Cantata No. 208, Sheep May Safely Graze
A gentle and calming composition that can be used in an interval in the service to allow mourners to pause and remember the life of their loved one.
Samuel Barber – Adagio For Strings
Barber's intention was that this noble and spiritually uplifting composition would demonstrate respect, admiration and love for other men. It is an ideal musical choice for a family to remember and pay tribute to their father.
The Beatles – Let It Be
Paul McCartney's favourite Beatles song was inspired by a dream he had about his mother, who died when he was 14. 1969 was a very turbulent year for the Beatles, and McCartney felt much troubled. His mother appeared to him in the dream, helping him to calm his fears and telling him to “let it be”.
Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman – Time To Say Goodbye
A soaring, sweet and rich duet between the world-famous tenor and soprano. This musical gem has become a popular choice for those who have lost their romantic partner.
Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
Eric Clapton wrote this touching song following the tragic death of his son. Although the lyrics concentrate on the trauma of losing a child, the sensitivity of the music makes it a suitable choice for the funeral service of a person of any age.
Gabriel Faure – Pavane
Faure's music was usually restrained, and nowhere more so than this gentle, undulating theme, which adds a melancholy melody to a traditional French slow dance. A very feminine piece of music, this composition could be used for the funeral service of a mother or wife.
Elton John – Candle In The Wind
This was famously performed by Elton John at the funeral of Princess Diana. Originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Elton rewrote the lyrics on the death of his friend at the request of her family. A profound expression of love and healing, the song has been described as “proof that music can unite the world in the celebration of life and in an emotional grieving for a loss.”
Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
Perhaps more famous for giving birth to heavy metal, Led Zeppelin also crafted many quieter, folk-like tunes. “Stairway To Heaven” is their masterpiece from “Led Zeppelin IV”, the fifth-best-selling album of all time.
Johann Pachelbel – Canon for Strings and Continuo
This is a simple yet haunting canon – a piece of music for several instruments, each of which enters in turn, other playing the same music at the same tempo. The three violins begin playing long notes which gradually get faster until the exact middle of the piece, when it begins to slow down again, eventually returning to the orginal tempo. This atmospheric and dignified composition would be suitable for the funeral service of a person who had led a long and full life.
Elvis Presley – Can't Help Falling In Love
The most popular performer of his generation left a musical legacy that few artists can compete with. “Can't Help Falling in Love” rivals “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “Love Me Tender” as "the King's" greatest romantic ballad.
Queen – Who Wants To Live Forever?
From one of Britain's most successful, theatrical and musically diverse acts, this poignant song catches Freddie Mercury's most reflective moment. The popularity of Queen and the song's tender lyrics have made this a common choice for fans of rock music.
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – Amazing Grace
This well-known, well-loved hymn was written by Reverend John Newton in 1773 after he survived a storm at sea, and was played at funerals and memorial services for the members of the New York Fire Department and NYPD after the events of 9/11. The recording by the pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1972 is a popular choice for those who are proud of their Scottish origins.
Frank Sinatra – My Way
Frank Sinatra is considered by many to be the greatest vocalist of the 20th Century, and his ground-breaking phrasing and vocal technique help the listener to understand and empathise with this song. “My Way” would be an obvious musical choice to remember those who in life were charismatic and individual.
Robbie Williams – Angels
The song that made Robbie a household name has become a popular choice for funeral services in recent years. Its emotive music and reflective lyrics strike a chord with many listeners.