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‘Where Words Fail, Music Speaks’: Choosing Your Funeral Music

‘Where Words Fail, Music Speaks’: Choosing Your Funeral Music

It was Hans Christian Anderson, fairytale writer, who admitted that music is the great refuge for when speech fails. Whether we’re intensely musical or can’t play a note, music moves us and funeral music is a must for many people.

Less than a third of people in the UK choose their funeral music. At Our Light Inside we give you the opportunity to decide on music that encapsulates your character and your tastes. The lyrics themselves can be a chance to say goodbye to your family and friends, whether they are ‘It’s time to say goodbye’ or ‘We’ll meet again’.

British Funeral Music

The traditional British funeral follows a specific structure, which includes hymns and sung psalms, intersected with readings and the eulogy. Some of the most popular songs are Christian hymns, such as ‘Abide with Me’, ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’. However, secular songs are also gaining traction, with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman’s ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ providing a heartfelt melody to mark the departure. Frank Sinatra’s famous ‘My Way’ is also a much-loved song for when a loved one dies, but it strikes quite a different note, celebrating their choices and love of life and all it gave them.

Depending on the deceased and the overall tone of the gathering, there’s room for humour as well! If you would like something light-hearted in contrast to the traditional ceremony, you can join the large number of people who have chosen the Monty Python ditty ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’!

Funeral Music From Around The World

There’s nothing to say you have to stick with any tone or genre, with funeral music sounding incredibly different across cultures. For example, the Maori people of New Zealand perform the Haka to honour the dead, a ritual which couldn’t be more different from the New Orleans jazz funeral. The latter begins with great solemnity, with a grave march reminiscent of much of Western mourning. The music then morphs into something joyful and spirited, with mourners dancing, singing and improvising through the streets.

Indeed, joyous funeral music is a feature across many cultures, with Ghanaian pallbearers literally dancing as they carry the casket. Similarly, the Zapotec people in the Oaxaca region of Mexico have a bright and colourful funeral festival, accompanied by the sound of a brass band.

Deciding On Your Funeral Music

However much you may be inspired by the celebratory attitudes of other cultures, you may be seeking something more personal.

Take into account the kind of atmosphere you would like to encourage; happy, poignant, hopeful and reassuring songs all create their own subtly different mood. It might be that the music you choose is associated with a specific person or a particular memory which you would like to share with your family and friends. You could invite a talented loved one to play for you in place of a recording or invoke the message of a particular film by requesting its soundtrack. In the end, it might just be your favourite song.

Our Light Inside

By creating an online portal at Our Light Inside, you can have a space in which to document all your ideas and wishes, which can be sent to your nominees so that they know what music you would like.

You can get in touch to enquire about membership or ask questions by emailing

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