Choosing music for a Humanist or Civil Funeral can be a daunting task. You can have almost any type of music you wish, and there are no legal restrictions.
When choosing hymns for a funeral service it's often difficult to know where to start, as there are so many hymns to choose from. We've sung at many Catholic funeral masses and funeral services, so here's some help for choosing funeral hymns.
Who exactly is a funeral for? This may seem an obvious question, but the answer isn't quite so straightforward. We believe a funeral service should celebrate a life well lived, offering the family and those who attend the chance to remember, to reflect as well as say goodbye. Therefore, the choice of music, readings and tributes should reflect their choices.
Being an organist can be a rather dull job at time, no doubt. You sit through funerals, often playing the same ten hymns we suspect, and wait, idle, as another 'here today, gone tomorrow' pop hit is played on the CD player.
Statistics do make interesting reading, whether it's the number of votes politicians receive, or the number of songs we've sung at funerals!
Where do you start when choosing hymns for a funeral service? There are so many hymns to choose from. Having sung at many Anglican funerals we've first hand experience of the various choices people have. Often it's a close run thing with the popularity of hymns as we all have our favourites.
There's something very special and particularly moving about singing at the graveside.
The funeral service itself was a celebration of a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend and mentor to many people. I had the privilege to listen to a wonderful eulogy, some moving tributes and speak with many people afterwards.
Throughout the years we've been singing for funerals, no pattern for bookings has emerged. However, over the last months, one has emerged - bookings for the middle Friday of the month.
One of the skills you learn at music college as a student of singing is to suit your voice to the music, and that includes volume. Singing a song with piano is obviously different to singing an aria with orchestra, for example. However, it;'s only experience that teaches you the art of self-regulating and adjusting your voice to different spaces as well. And it's not always about the size of the space either.
This is a favourite of ours, a great funeral poem set to wonderful music. We knew of the poem, but the musical setting only came to our notice last year.