8 Tips on How to Incorporate Meaningful Funeral Songs into a Ceremony July 21, 2021

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Many people choose to hold a memorial or funeral with music incorporated into the program. Funeral songs can add additional meaning, personalization and serve as a future reminder of your loved one’s legacy. The exact music you choose, however, is a deeply personal decision. In addition to several decades and genres to consider, you’ll also want to think about how you want your loved one’s funeral songs to be played—whether it be live or recorded. With so many options to choose from, finding just the right funeral song for a deeply personal and memorable tribute can be difficult. This guide and the eight tips below are meant to help you plan a funeral with music that best suits your loved one’s remembrance.

Why have a funeral with music?

Regardless of the occasion, music brings people together in a truly unique way. The right funeral song can play a huge role in evoking emotions and stir up old memories. For many, a funeral with music also provides an atmosphere of healing. If your loved one had a favorite song or a song that fit well with their personality, incorporating it into the ceremony can help capture their essence.

In addition to helping us tap into our emotions, holding a funeral with music can help provide structure to the ceremony. Live performances by friends, family, or hired musicians can bring comfort and a sense of community to the room. Religious hymns or worship songs can bring people together through a sense of tradition and shared beliefs. Familiar songs that evoke memories of your loved one can offer a walk down memory lane. Other times, music might be played in the background of a slideshow or during a speech to support the event. Because music can serve so many different functions, it is important to consider what funeral songs you might play to support different ceremony parts.

What music is played at funerals?

There is no one-size-fits-all funeral song. The music you choose to incorporate should be guided by your loved one’s personality, belief system, and personal tastes, as well as the tone you would like to set for the ceremony. Many people will select somber or reflective funeral songs to suit the occasion.

Funeral music doesn’t have to be somber, although many people choose to go that route. Some families prefer to frame the funeral as a celebration of life. In this case, they may select vibrant funeral songs to help set the mood.

8 Tips on how to plan the music for a funeral

When planning a funeral with music, just about anything goes. While many people are comfortable with this level of creative freedom, others can find it overwhelming. If you fall into the latter category, don’t fret. The eight questions below are meant to help you narrow down your options.

1. What would your loved one want?

This is a difficult but essential question to consider. The service is meant to commemorate your loved one’s life, so their personal preferences are an important part of the planning process. If your loved one was particularly passionate about music, you might be able to incorporate their favorite song or artist. If you’re not sure, you can also consider different genres or decades that better suit their life or personality.

2. What tone would you like to convey?

When brainstorming funeral songs, consider the tone you would like to set. If you are aiming for a more somber tone, consider funeral songs with a slower tempo. If you would like to communicate a more hopeful or optimistic tone, there are many uplifting funeral songs that might suit your needs. Classical funeral music is a timeless choice and often suitable for those who prefer not to have lyrics in the funeral songs.

3. Are there any religious or cultural traditions to consider?

Religious and cultural traditions should certainly be considered for the deceased, but they are also an important part of the ceremony for the living. There are religious or cultural funeral songs that are an integral part of the ceremony and the grieving process for many families. If you are not sure what these traditions may be, don’t be afraid to ask a close friend or relative to help you in planning.

4. Should you use live or recorded funeral songs?

Live performances can be an engaging and meaningful addition to a funeral ceremony. If your budget permits, hiring professional musicians to perform funeral songs can be a great option. If a close friend or family member is musically inclined, asking them to perform can be a more affordable and personal option.

However, live performances are not the best fit for every ceremony. It is just as common to use recorded music to commemorate a loved one’s life. Just be sure to check with your funeral home or venue to ensure that they can play the recording from a CD, laptop, USB, or any other device you plan to use.

5. Can copyrighted music be used at a funeral?

Copyright rules in the funeral business can be complicated, but with the help of your local funeral director, they are not impossible to navigate. Many funeral homes purchase a blanket license that covers the vast majority of copyrighted songs. However, you will need to check to ensure the songs you choose are covered under this blanket license. This rule does not apply to religious songs performed by members of the clergy.

Recording and streaming funeral services can add another layer of complication to copyrighted music. Because streamed funeral services are technically performances, live streaming is typically covered by the funeral home’s blanket license. However, recordings of the funeral or the live stream are not considered performances and are not covered under the blanket license. If recording the event is important to you, stick with royalty-free music to ensure you do not violate any copyright laws.

6. How will the order of the funeral songs support the ceremony?

Once you’ve considered the tone of the ceremony and your loved one’s religious and cultural preferences—and vetted them for copyright issues—you can narrow down your list and decide what order would best suit the ceremony. Many funerals with music will begin with more somber songs and gradually shift to a more uplifting tone towards the end of the ceremony. Other times, music is only played during certain parts of a ceremony, like a slideshow or a live performance. Regardless of the order you choose, be sure to consider how it fits in with the other components of the funeral program.

7. How long will the ceremony be?

In addition to the order of the funeral songs, you’ll want to consider how many you can fit into the ceremony. If you are planning a shorter program, you may only be able to fit in a few songs or one live performance. If you are planning a longer ceremony, you can certainly incorporate more songs or performances. Still, you’ll also want to consider any moments of silence or speeches during which music will not be appropriate.

8. What memories make your heart feel full?

At the end of the day, planning a funeral with music is meant to provide a sense of comfort to those who are grieving. Be sure to prioritize the songs that you and your friends and family members connect with and find meaningful.

Planning a funeral can be an intense, emotional journey, but don’t forget that, above all, this is an opportunity to celebrate the life of someone special. No matter how you choose to memorialize the deceased, be sure to take this opportunity to feel more connected to the ones, you love.

If you would like to learn more about funeral arrangements or funeral pre-planning, our professional staff can help answer your questions and meet your needs. Contact us today.