Suggestions for Music for Funerals and Memorial Services
Selections should be appropriate to the overall style of the service.
Caution: Lyrics of a loved one's favorite song may evoke strong emotions.
Prelude: Music before the service
Prelude music ideally would allow quiet expressions of sympathy.
Quiet instrumental music is best.
Classical music, such as the largo from the New World Symphony, also known as "Goin' Home", tends to be soothing.
(The full name of the symphony is Symphony Number 9, "From the New World", Opus 95, by Antonin Dvorak.)
Slow jazz music (sometimes called "smooth jazz") such as "I'll Be Seeing You", can be appropriate.
Hymns, such as "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Ave Maria", are very often used for Christian funerals and memorial services.
Music during the service
Music during the service could be sung by a soloist or by everyone present.
"The Lord's Prayer" can be very meaningful when sung by trained soloists.
Some songs, such as "Amazing Grace", are so widely known that most people will have a good idea of the tune.
Hymns, such as "Abide With Me" and "Rock of Ages", may be familiar to people, and having the lyrics printed is always helpful.
Postlude: Music after the service
The postlude (sometimes called exit music) should be uplifting and inspire happy recollections of the departed.
"When the Saints Go Marching In" is probably the song most associated with New Orleans jazz funerals. It speaks of the hope and joy of the resurrection.
A hymn like "How Great Thou Art" may be best sung by a professional soloist.
Songs suitable for Easter, such as "The Strife is O'er", emphasize the victory of eternal life and triumph over death.
"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee" is another hymn that celebrates victory over death, the glory of God, and the promise of a new life to come.
Additional examples of songs appropriate for funerals will be added during the early months of 2015.