Music for funerals
Over the years of writing this article there has been a lot of correspondence and comments relating to music. There have been a couple of occasions where people have asked for help tracing tracks to be played at their funeral.
Nowadays people do tend to have music played rather than hymns, and getting it right is important.
I have had a little bit of help from Stuart Cox, Corporate Communications Manager, Dignity PLC (it runs both the St Faith and Norwich crematoriums) about what is and isn’t permissible.
Crematoriums are governed by Performing Rights Licencing and can only play music from original CDs. Lots of funeral directors hold stocks of music of favourite songs that they can have played at this time, and there is always the option of the funeral director supplying a CD player to play a favourite piece of music or song, getting around the original CD problem.
Organists are available, or if you want live music this can also be incorporated into the funeral, subject to the instruments being PAT tested.
So now we get on to the rather delicate bit: what song(s) do you want played?
I had thought that people should put into their will what music they wanted playing, but it was pointed out to me that most wills are not read until after the funeral has taken place. It would be good if loved ones were made aware of favourite songs (written down somewhere would be best). And then there is another point, what if the song has been performed by several artists. What version do you want?
Stuart has told me that a new system is being installed at St Faith in the summer which provides access to thousands of pop, rock and classical pieces of music. It will eliminate problems such as poor quality songs, the CD not working and licensing laws (the company that own the Wesley System pays an annual licensing fee), and provides a good quality of music.
A couple of weeks ago a national newspaper featured the 78 most popular funeral songs in its culture section.
It included rock, pop, classical music and hymns. It is really interesting to see that the theme tunes of Last Of The Summer Wine, Coronation Street and Only Fools and Horses all make the list.
The more sporty have plumped for You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Match Of the Day theme, and Soul Limbo by Booker T and the MGs which introduces Test Match Special.
Surprisingly or not, the top song is Always Look On the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python/Eric Idle, which has knocked My Way by Frank Sinatra off the top.
Led Zeppelin, Queen and Tina Turner are among those providing the rock. This really shows a cultural shift away from traditional hymns and is more of a reflection of modern day life.
Enigma Variations, Canon in D by Pachelbel and Four Seasons by Vivaldi, all feature at the top of the classical music list. The Lord is my Shepherd, Abide With Me and All Things Bright and Beautiful topped the hymns.
We all have our own tastes in music and there are no rights/ wrongs when it comes to funerals.
So I hope you find this informative about what you can do musically and perhaps make you think about what music you’d like.
I’d like to think it will make people act and list what music they want played, which will be a great help and shield family members from more distress at what is already a very sad time.
The Monty Python gang, whose song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is the most popular choice at funerals.