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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13 of the Best Unique & Unusual Urns for Ashes 4

If you’ve recently lost someone who was a true original, you might be looking for something a little … different … to act as their final resting place. To help out, we’ve delved into the often beautiful and sometimes very strange world of unusual urns for ashes to find the very best around. Whether you’re looking for burial urns or decorative keepsakes, here are 13 wonderfully unique examples to inspire your search.

 

This Viking longboat urn is one of the most impressive unusual urns for ashes aroundA Viking funeral ship

Historial accuracy aside, the idea of the Viking funeral –  the warrior’s body pushed out to sea in a longboat and set ablaze with flaming arrows – has real dramatic appeal.

A full-sized Viking longboat is hard to come by these days, but you can still give your loved one a hero’s send-off with this more compact version. This fully combustible cremation urn from Scattering Ashes can be set adrift and then alight in water, though you might want to hold back on the flaming arrows for health and safety reasons.

 

An urn in disguise

Unusual urns for ashes made by Steve RhuleSculptor Steve Rhule was drawn to making cremation urns after realising that most of the ones he’d seen were … less than appealing. Now running the aptly named site Art2DieFor, he specialises in imaginative “urns that do not look like urns”, from enchanting miniature landscapes to maximalist and incredibly detailed shrine sculptures. Perfect for anyone seeking a truly singular urn that draws the eye.

 

An eco-friendly masterpiece

Unique urns by Annie Leigh.An apple, a teapot, a suitcase, a ukelele – whatever personal object you think best fits the person who died, artist Annie Leigh can recreate it as a completely biodegradable custom urn. Her pretty, brightly-painted and highly unique eco urns can be buried, placed in the sea, or kept in the house.

A hefty dose of ingenuity goes into each painstakingly crafted piece: for example, Annie’s boat-and-globe urns are cleverly designed so that, as the ashes sink beneath the water, the boat is released to bob in the waves.

A unusual urn made to look like the Starship Enterprise

A “crazy” bespoke urn

UK-based coffin and urn maker Crazy Coffins dates back to Victorian times, but got a new lease of life (and its current name) after becoming famous for beautifully made and slightly bonkers bespoke pieces made on request. So far, the team have made coffins and urns that look like canal boats, guitars, planes and even the Starship Enterprise. Despite their thoroughly different look, these impressive urns and coffins are fully functional and make a brilliant tribute to the personalities of their owners.

 

 

A bird to watch over you

Unusual urns by Kris Cravens.Looking at the use of lively patterns and texture in her work, it’s no surprise that potter Kris Cravens has a background in fashion. Her carefully handmade keepsake urns have a cheerful, uplifting feel that makes them stand out. The bright red birds perched on many of her pieces symbolise the belief that when you see a red bird, you’re being visited by loved one who has passed.

Kris’s urns tend to be smaller, making them perfect for pets or for families who would like to split the ashes of a loved one between a few different households. Each piece is also made by hand, so you can be sure that you’re getting a completely unique urn. Kris is based in the US, but you can contact her via her Etsy shop for international shipping rates.

 

These biodegradable unique urns for ashes are designed to look like whales.

A whale to explore the deeps

Handmade by local artisans in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, this charming whale urn is completely biodegradable and non-toxic, meaning you can keep it at home or use it to release a loved one’s ashes into the ocean. Like a real whale, it will float briefly before sinking into the deeps to rest.

Designed by artist Laura Bruzzese, the whale urn is part of a range that includes paper turtles, lotus flowers and dolphins – all pretty fitting ways to say goodbye to someone who loved the ocean.

 

 

Unique urns woodturned by Martin van der WiltAn urn with not-so-hidden beauty

These handsome woodturned urns are created by Amsterdam-based craftsman Martin van der Wilt, who makes them out of reclaimed wood found near his workshop.

Martin specialises in finding the “hidden beauty of the wood”: bringing out the unique twists, turns and scars in the grain that make each piece special. Gaps are often filled with bright stone to turn what might have been a flaw in another artist’s hands into a striking feature.

 

A creative creature urn

No list of unusual urns for ashes would be complete without potter Laina Watt’s work. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian canopic jars (the animal-headed ones that held the mummy’s organs), mythology, popular culture, and a certain degree of playfulness, Laina’s urns are designed to shine on a mantlepiece or “totally confound archeologists of the future” when buried. No two urns are alike, and with a range that includes a yeti, King Kong and E.T., you can be sure that your loved one will rest in style.

 

An urn for new life

Capsula Mundi make biodegradable urns in the shape of an egg – a symbol of new life that works well with the company’s ethos: on top of every urn buried, they also plant a tree chosen by the person who died.

Over time, relatives can come visit their loved one and see how the tree they planted has grown and flourished. You can find out more about Capsula Mundi in our interview here.

 

 

Wood salvaged and made special

Unusual urns for ashes by Phil IronsBased in Stratford-upon-Avon, veteran woodturner Phil Irons rescues his wood from the clutches of tree surgeons and firewood merchants and turns the would be kindling into works of art. Unusually for an urn-maker, he uses richly-coloured glazes to make the wood’s natural grain “pop”, bringing out its inherent beauty. Phil first tried woodturning at the tender age of 13, and his experience shows in the incredible smooth lines here. Very touchable.

 

A unique Himalayan salt urn from Urns UK

An urn as salty as the sea

Who knew there were so many uses for Himalayan salt? You can season your food with it, you can carve it into lamps, and you can even use it to make funeral urns. The pink colour and marble-like texture make this urn from Urns UK a beautiful keepsake; however, if you’re burying your loved one at sea, it also dissolves within four hours, making it an eco-friendly option.

 

A driftwood urn like no other

 

Pebble-shaped urns for ashesA peaceful pebble

Made by artist Davina Kemble, these serene birch plywood urns are hand-crafted to mimic the smooth shape of a pebble and the rings in a tree – reminding us of the passing of time and the span of someone’s life.

As well as having a brilliantly tactile, organic shape, they’re biodegradable. A keepsake version is also available, and you can keep some small items that remind you of your loved one – such as jewellery, ornaments or letters – alongside a small quantity of their ashes.

 

That’s it for this round-up of unusual urns! If you’ve found a unique and special urn of your own, tell us in the comment box below – we’d love to add it to our list.

6 Inspiring Eulogy Examples to Draw From 0

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

Writing a eulogy is widely (and perhaps rightly) thought of as one of the most difficult tasks out there. Not only does it involve public speaking, but it asks you to communicate how you feel about a loved one at a time when your emotions can be overwhelming. If you’ve been asked to deliver a eulogy, you might be feeling understandably nervous about the whole thing.

Don’t worry. We’ve put together some eulogy examples to show that you don’t have to be Shakespeare to put together a powerful, moving speech.

6 of the best eulogy examples to watch for inspiration

Remember, eulogies don’t have to be that long to be great, and you certainly don’t have to stop yourself from crying. If you’re struggling for words or you’re not sure where to start, here are some long, short, and even funny eulogy examples to get you started.

“He got me ready to be a strong, upstanding man.”

No two people get on one hundred percent of the time. If you’re looking for eulogy examples for a father, this speech about a man who spent some years “butting heads” with his son is a heart warming place to start. By acknowledging that history of conflict in this short, witty eulogy, the son tells the story of how it ultimately strengthened their relationship and helped him be a better version of himself.

“I want my father’s memory to help you and others.”

Here’s one of our short eulogy examples for a father who always kept his promises. Not only has this man picked out a positive character trait and focused on that, but he’s also used it to spark action and conversation among the other people attending the funeral. His father’s memory will inspire guests to follow through for their own loved ones.

“We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end.”

“I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies the enormity of the room whose doors have quietly shut.”

Not all of us will be lucky enough to have someone who can eulogise us on national television, but this tribute from American comedy legend Stephen Colbert is a fine eulogy example: a mother who taught her children to sing, dance, and pray in German is commemorated briefly but beautifully in his speech, which you can read in full here.

“She was my first teacher.”

In one of our longer funeral eulogy examples, a mother who believed in making things work is touchingly remembered. This feels like a complete picture of the person who’s died: someone vivacious, entertaining, community-minded, and endlessly resourceful. If you have the time, you can take it to show as many aspects of your loved one as you can.

“She had some trouble with technology.”

Good funny eulogy examples show that you don’t have to tell a long, complicated story with a setup and a punchline to get your audience chuckling – sometimes, just a phone call is enough. In just under four minutes, we learn that the person who’s died was intelligent, sweet, and caring, but she’s also left some laughter behind.

“That’s the kind of man I want to be.”

“Show, don’t tell” is good advice for eulogies as well as fiction. In this often funny, always touching eulogy example, a grandson describes his grandfather through a series of anecdotes that perfectly describe a man deeply loved by, and devoted to, his family.

If you can learn anything from the funeral eulogy examples you’ve seen here, let it be this: eulogies can be sweet or sharp, funny or sad, or all of those things at once – but they’re at their most effective when they’re spoken from the heart. Start with honesty, and mould it from there.

And now for something completely different.

When asked to eulogise his friend and colleague Graham Chapman, John Cleese realised he had a vitally important duty to carry out: to be the first person to drop the F-bomb at a British memorial service. We’re not suggesting this as a template, but think of it as some light relief as you search for a eulogy sample that inspires you.

For more funeral arrangement inspiration, check out our Advice Centre here.


Have you delivered or heard a great eulogy? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us all about it in the comment box below.