Classical Music for Funerals – 10 examples 0

classical music for funerals

Music has become an important part of modern funeral services and those organising a memorial service will often spend a great deal of time deciding what songs to play. While many go with a contemporary pop song, others might have a particular hymn that seems appropriate. However, one of the most popular options is a piece of classical music. Stirring and emotive, these ten suggestions represent some of the most popular compositions of classical music for funerals.

Be sure to discuss music with your chosen funeral director.

 

The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams

Inspired by George Meredith’s poem of the same name, The Lark Ascending is a beautifully nostalgic piece of music that’s often used to say goodbye to dearly missed friends and family. Supposedly composed as Williams watched soldiers board the boats that would ferry them across to France at the outbreak of the First World War, the song is most notable for its powerful violin solo and its reputation as one of the British public’s favourite pieces of classical music.

 

Largo (Xerxes) – George Frideric Handel

Though not greeted with critical acclaim at the time of its creation, Handel’s Largo is now an increasingly popular composition that seems to have found its place amongst the greats of the genre. Part of a larger operatic series based on the story of the Persian emperor Xerxes I, the Largo aria has become a much admired piece of music centred around the theme of love and is regularly played at memorial services.

 

Song for Athene – John Tavener

Performed at the funeral of Princess Diana, this beautiful choral arrangement has found its way into the public consciousness and is now regularly sung or played at funerals around the country. Written following the death of a young Greek friend in a cycling accident, Tavener incorporated elements of the Greek Orthodox tradition into the composition to create a moving memorial to life lost.

 

Adagietto (Symphony No. 5) – Gustav Mahler

Adagietto is the fourth movement from Mahler’s most famous work, Symphony No. 5. Reportedly inspired by the composer’s love for his wife Alma, it was written after Mahler was confronted with his own mortality when he suffered from a large haemorrhage and was sent to the countryside to recuperate. This comes across in the music, and makes it especially suitable as a piece of classical music for funerals.

 

Ave maria – Franz Schubert

One of Schubert’s most renowned pieces, Ave Maria draws from Arthurian legend, a poem by Sir Walter Scott and the picturesque Austrian landscape. Though the title may suggest it’s a devotional piece of music, it actually concerns a young girl named Ellen, who is the protagonist in Scott’s poem. Its calm and melancholic composition make it a powerful choice for any funeral service. Tenor Luigi Vena performed the piece at the funeral of American President John F Kennedy, following his assassination.

 

Pavane – Gabriel Fauré

For a long time, this gentle composition has been associated with feminine grace and beauty, and consequently, it is often employed as a fitting tribute to those important women in our lives. Supposedly intended as a musical tribute to his father, who had passed away three years before work on the piece began, it is marked by some of the greatest melodies Fauré ever committed to paper, and is a popular choice of classical music for funerals.

 

Fur Elise – Ludwig van Beethoven

Instantly recognisable, this incredible piano composition is still used in funeral services across the country, despite it now being over 200 years old. Though the identity of the titular Elise remains a mystery, there is little doubt that this is a powerful piece of music that is capable of generating great emotion.

 

Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor – Sergei Rachmaninoff

While its length would usually require specific segments of the song to be chosen for a funeral service, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is an extremely melancholic composition that’s famous for bringing tears to a listener’s eyes. If you want to remember a loved one with a powerful, emotive piece of classical music, this would be a good choice for any memorial service.

 

Adagio Lamentoso (Symphony No. 6) – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The final part of Tchaikovsky’s last completed symphony, this composition was first performed just nine days before the death of the composer and is now strongly associated with ideas of death and dying. Whether such interpretations of the work hold any credence is a matter of debate, but this hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most popular pieces of classical music for funerals.

 

Cantata No. 208, Sheep May Safely Graze – Johann Sebastian Bach

This peaceful composition gives those gathered at a funeral a moment to collect their thoughts and remember the deceased. Though actually a secular composition, its references to sheep and shepherds also have religious connotations, making it an apt choice for both religious and non-religious services.

 

While these ten pieces of music are among the best known examples of classical music for funerals, remember that there are no rules. Generally, people expect emotive and reflective pieces of music, though it’s absolutely acceptable for you to choose something that the deceased loved.

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Baptist Funeral Customs 0

Baptist Funeral Customs

The Baptist churches have their origins in the reformation movement in Europe. Baptism spread from Amsterdam to England and then across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, where the largest Baptist congregations are now based.

The fundamental principle on which Baptism differentiates itself from other Christian churches is ‘believer’s baptism’. Whereas other parts of the Christian faith baptise infants at a very young age, Baptists believe that you need to be able to personally affirm your faith if the process is to hold any spiritual significance. Here, we take a look at the beliefs, customs and traditions surrounding Baptist funerals.

 

Baptist beliefs

There is great variety in tradition, custom and belief among Baptists and this fact is reflected in Baptist funerals. While all Baptists are joined in the belief that only those who profess their faith in Jesus Christ should be baptised, other theological differences aren’t as divisive as in other sects of the Christian faith. This means funeral services can be personalised to a greater extent to reflect the life and opinions of the deceased. It also means there are diverse opinions on what death means. However, most Baptists believe that those people with faith in Jesus Christ will find salvation in him and go on to live forever by his side in heaven.

 

Baptist funeral customs

Diversity of belief between Baptist congregations means that some funerals will be joyous celebrations, while others will be more sombre affairs. The first step in organising a Baptist funeral is contacting the local deacon or pastor. They will assist in organising the funeral and ensure everything is as it should be.

Baptist Funeral CustomsA viewing service is common amongst Baptist congregations. This gives friends and family the opportunity to pay their respects and usually takes place a day or two before the funeral. The funeral itself is led by the local deacon or pastor. Often the casket is closed at the beginning of the service. In many cases, the service and readings will focus on the power of God and His role within everyone’s lives. It’s not unusual for there to be little said about the deceased’s life. Music and the reading of scripture both play an important part in Baptist funerals and both religious and popular music may be heard.

Once the service is complete, it is traditional for prayers to be said and scripture read by the grave site. Once the coffin has been lowered into the ground, the mourners often disperse and reconvene at a reception at the family home, the church or a public space. Food is sometimes provided and it’s usual for mourners to contribute to the meal.

 

Baptist Funeral etiquette and other customs

Traditionally, mourners are expected to dress respectfully in black and clothes that reveal too much skin are not considered appropriate. However, some families may ask mourners to dress in brightly coloured clothes in honour of the deceased. Sending flowers to the family of the deceased is also common, although individuals may be asked to donate to charity instead.

Catholic Funeral Customs 0

catholic funeral customs

The Catholic Church is one of oldest religious institutions in the world and boasts a worldwide following of around 1.29 billion people. It has had a major impact on western thought, society, culture and politics, and has shaped the way many individuals think about death. Here, we take a look at the religion’s beliefs concerning death and explore the Catholic funeral customs.

Many of our funeral directors cater for Catholic funeral services. Find and contact a funeral director near you today.

Catholic beliefs

Catholics believe that each person’s soul is immortal and that, at the moment of death, the body and soul separate. While the body, devoid of the spirit that animated it, begins to decompose, the soul is taken to be judged by God. It is then either granted eternal life in Heaven or damned to an eternity in Hell.

However, not all of those granted access to Heaven are quite ready to pass through the pearly gates. Those who have lived a just enough life to reach Heaven but that are still due punishment for some as yet accounted for sin, spend time in Purgatory. Purgatory is a temporary state that purges the soul of sin and fully prepares an individual for Heaven.

catholic funeral customs

Catholic funeral customs

Catholicism maintains its own distinct traditions that differentiate it from other Christian traditions. When death is imminent, a priest is usually called to administer the dying person’s last rites. Traditionally, there are three stages to a Catholic funeral. The vigil – where friends and family gather to watch over the deceased’s body or cremated ashes and pray that their soul reaches heaven. The funeral mass – which takes place at the church and involves the casket or urn being carried to the front of the church and a memorial service led by the local priest. Finally, there is the burial – where the remains of the deceased are taken to their burial place and a priest commits them to the Earth.

Etiquette and other customs

catholic funeral customs

Catholicism is a large and widespread religion that can differ from region to region and that is also open to doctrinal differences. This means that what’s acceptable in a Catholic funeral on one occasion, may not be on another. For instance, in some Catholic communities, cremation is not acceptable. However, in recent years, Catholic religious authorities have shifted their position and many churches won’t have a problem with cremation.

The Catholic Church holds no objection to organ donation, as mainstream religious doctrine supports the idea that once brain function ceases, the soul has departed the body. Likewise, embalming the deceased’s body is common practice if a vigil is to be held and the Church is in no way opposed to embalming.

As a non-Catholic attending a Catholic funeral, you can take part in the entire ceremony but won’t be expected to take Holy Communion, as it’s a practice reserved for those of Catholic faith. After the funeral service, it is common practice for a less formal memorial event to take place at a relative’s home, a pub or another local venue. However, such an event is not a formal part of the service and not all Catholic funerals will end with one.