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Funeral Flowers on a PianoMusic can pull and convey strong emotions, especially when you can’t formulate the words in a given situation. It can also transport you mentally, spiritually and emotionally to another time and place. When you’re celebrating the life of someone who has died, music plays an important part in setting the mood, fostering senses of comfort and peace and, most importantly, acknowledging the personhood of the departed. Just as vocal and instrumental songs are critical to a wedding soundtrack, they can do the same for funerals. Here are some things to know and to consider.

Examining Music at Funerals

In the past, selecting music involved making choices from a list provided by a funeral director. This list of songs was often limited, and in some venues, involved Christian hymn selections to be played by an affiliated pianist or organist. Some places of worship would make their musicians and singers available to perform processionals, recessionals and offerings in the program. Today, the internet and other tech has enabled implementation of various types of songs into a celebration of life. Whether putting together a playlist for a slideshow or incorporating music in a wake, memorial service, ceremony or interment, there are many options.

Honoring the Deceased

Picking the event soundtrack is not to be taken lightly. The music plays an important part in the event, as it will be something that attendees will remember and associate with the departed and this celebration of life. Choose a song that suits the deceased. If that person had a favorite tune or piece of music, that may be an easy choice. If instructions were left behind for funeral details, you should honor these requests. Musical selections also help personalize the ceremony. Imagine if your loved one was a huge fan of their alma mater’s sports teams. You might consider incorporating a school or fight song into a service.

Creating the Mood

Music helps set the mood or tone for the service. Whether you hire a New Orleans-style brass band to play second line numbers for entering and exiting or have an organist play classical or religious pieces, you’ll create a mood. Consider the person who has passed on and what sounds would best reflect their personality. Someone who had a vibrant and upbeat personality may be better remembered with faster or happier songs. Give careful thought as to where in the ceremony the music is to be used. Popular songs are often great choices for a video slideshow or presentation, while a hymn may be more suitable for a congregational singalong.

Reading the Lyrics

The words of a particular song can be a great way to express the feelings of the bereaved. Sometimes you can’t find the words to say. Leave it to the creative genius of a songwriter or lyricist to convey what you and others are feeling at the time. Here are some popular works for your consideration:

  • “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John
  • “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
  • “How Do I Live Without You” by Trisha Yearwood or LeAnn Rimes
  • “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
  • “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion
  • “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
  • “Dance With My Father Again” by Luther Vandross
  • “Wild Horses” by Eva Cassidy
  • “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts
  • “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli

If the ceremony is to be conducted in a house of worship, check with a member of the clergy or funeral director to make sure musical selections, especially secular ones, are allowed.

Music is one of the important factors in acknowledging and celebrating the life of the dearly departed. Gone are the days when song selection was limited to a few hymns. If you’re responsible for the music, choose works that honor the life of the deceased and set the right mood or tone for the ceremony.

Category: Funeral

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