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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Missouri Storm Chaser’s Ashes to be Released into a Tornado 0

Tornado

What would you say if you could write your own obituary? For a creative option, you can’t beat Jim “Mad Dog” Sellars’ self-penned goodbye, in which the adventurous former ice cream dipper, butcher, weatherman, telephone lineman, reserve policeman and veteran storm chaser from Missouri announced that his ashes would be released into a twister.

“My friends the ‘Outlaw Chasers’ will launch my cremains into a tornado at a later date”, Sellars wrote. “That’ll be fun!!!!”

The scattering will be a fitting tribute to a man who chased well over 100 tornadoes in his lifetime. Speaking to the Kansas City Star, Sellars’ older brother John described Jim as a dedicated and generous person who approached all his hobbies whole-heartedly. “If he knew (a tornado) was going to set up somewhere, in Oklahoma, or Alabama, he would load up with a couple of people and go chase.”

“If he found something that interested him, he jumped into it all the way up to his neck.”

Even when Sellars was confined to his bed due to illness, he continued to track tornadoes for the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program, also sending out radio reports to help his fellow storm chasers.

“It was a tough time for him, but he spent every waking hour helping people all over the radio”, said John. Condolences on Sellars’ memorial page describe him as both “fun loving”, “generous” and a “big hearted guy who was very devoted to helping others”.

Jim’s self-written obituary tells the story of a busy life well lived, with memories of family, friends, and a range of careers:

“I remember the 1960 Winter Olympics we had in our snowy backyard, sitting with Dad watching the satellite Echo 1 flash through the night sky.

“I was honored as a Policeman to have met and protected … Presidents Reagan and Ford, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, George Carlin, Dolly Parton, Mac Davis, Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones, Elvis and many more.”

It also paints a portrait of a self-deprecating man with a strong sense of humour. “I had a few tryouts with the Reds, Phillies and Cardinals. … I was either too drunk or too hung over to do much good … But I had fun.”

Yet, as you might expect from a long time storm chaser, the weather seems to have been Sellar’s enduring passion. “I saw my first tornado in Sept 1975 and my last 30 years later … I liked all kinds of weather, rain, snow, sleet, hot, cold … I really didn’t care as long as I was here to see it.”

Despite the unusual nature of his brother’s last request, John has promised to launch the ashes into a tornado as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Jim Sellars is survived by his two children, a son and a daughter, and four grandchildren.

“I loved all my family, friends, caregivers, and the people that made my world turn.” Sellars said. “So, as we move forward on our path around the sun at 66,660 mph, let’s all pray, hope, or wish for peace and love for our world.

“Bye for now. … See ya on the other side.”


Do you have any unusual wishes for your own ashes? Make sure your family know what to do when the time comes by sharing your funeral wishes in your will with Beyond. It’s free, easy and takes just ten minutes. Start writing your free will here today.

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.