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Selecting Funeral Music

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

What To Consider When Selecting Funeral Music

For many, music is an essential and powerful element of a funeral service. It is a language of emotion and can often represent different feelings and situations better than any other medium.

For this reason, there is often great emphasis and consideration placed on the music selected for a funeral or memorial service. Far more often than not, the music chosen is reflective of the mood of the event or the person whose life is being celebrated or remembered.

Yet with so many emotions and stories to tell, how do you select the right pieces or songs for the farewell you want to create?

Sydney based funeral director Peter Giarratano has more than 17 years’ experience, crafting farewells for families across a broad cross section of the community.

He recommends starting with thinking about the person you’re remembering, followed by what sort of tone you’d like to set.

“Arranging a funeral can often be a daunting experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and ask for their assistance,” he says.

“Music can be a uniting experience and using something like a streaming playlist of potential options and sharing it with very close family and friends can help in the selection process.”

What follows is Peter’s advice for the most commonly asked questions when selecting funeral music.

What are the uses for music in religious funeral services?

Depending on the cultural and religious beliefs of the family, music in a traditional funeral ceremony will serve a spiritual purpose as well.

“In a Catholic funeral ceremony, there will be an entrance song, a song during communion, and a song when the coffin is leaving. There may also be music in the offertory procession and during a visual presentation” Peter explains.

“The majority of instruments played at a traditional funeral are the organ and piano. Some families may request a string quartet, a violinist or a guitarist for both non-denominational and traditional ceremonies.

“Other cultures will just have religious chants without any background music or instruments, for example like the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s also common for a traditional funeral to have a church choir, this is practiced in many Christian denominations.”

Similar to a secular service where at times, there can be three pieces of music – at the beginning, during a time of reflection, and at the conclusion of the service – Catholic funerals also share a similar structure.

What are the purposes of music in a funeral service?

“As music can also celebrate the personality of the family’s loved one and can help express what they were like and what songs they liked some families will select music based on their loved one’s musical preferences,” Peter continues.

You can also use music to remind guests of a certain time in the deceased’s life or a meaningful relationship, or even to leave them with a special thought or message. The right choice of music can evoke memories that can be of comfort to family and friends.

When a slideshow is being presented, the accompanying music can greatly enhance the presentation.

“Combining visual and auditory components can have a powerful effect on those saying goodbye,” Peter says.

World renowned grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt describes the inclusion of music in a funeral service as the ‘sweet spot’ of a meaningful experience. When words are inadequate to express how we feel, music is used to help us open our hearts and connect with the life of our loved one.

What are the most requested styles of funeral music?

Below is a list of some of the most commonly played music during a funeral service.

Popular songs

Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson)

Because You Love Me (Celine Dion)

Fly Me To The Moon (Frank Sinatra)

Gone Too Soon (Michael Jackson)

Check out the full playlist on Spotify

Popular Hymns

Abide With Me

Amazing Grace

Ave Maria

How Great Thou Art

Check out the full playlist on Spotify

Classical Music

Adagio (Albinoni)

Ave Maria (Schubert)

Canon in D (Pachelbel)

Claire de Lune (Debussy)

Check out the full playlist on Spotify

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The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

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