For decades traditional hymns such as “Abide with Me” and “The Lord Is My Shepherd” have been staples at British funerals.
But their popularity is waning as more people opt instead for cheerier secular songs.
A shift to more balanced ceremonies which involve celebration as well as mourning has driven an increase in pop songs and poems.
Alison Crake, president of the National Association of Funeral Directors said that popular music was “certainly becoming more commonplace” at funerals.
She said: “Funerals today are rapidly becoming as much a celebration of life as a farewell and are becoming increasingly personalised.”
Research by insurer SunLife found that 45 per cent of ceremonies now do not include a hymn, and more than half of funeral directors have seen a decrease in religious services.
Younger age groups are more likely to choose secular music, with just 12 per cent of those aged 50 to 54 choosing a hymn, compared to one in four over-65s.
Sandra Millar, head of life events at the Church of England, said: “Perhaps people have a memory of a hymn that feels sad because they have previously sung it at a sad event.
“Because people are also less used to singing nowadays they might also be more likely to have a recording.”
The most popular ditties these days? According to the Telegraph:
- Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – Monty Python (in the video above)
- Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
- My Way – Frank Sinatra
- Another One Bites The Dust – Queen
- Bat Out Of Hell – Meatloaf
Most Catholic funerals, from my experience, are still fairly orthodox in the choice of music; parishes strictly limit what can be included. But there is still some latitude allowed. I recently attended the funeral of a beloved priest and heard Andre Crouch’s “Soon and Very Soon”, which was one of this priest’s favorites. I couldn’t help but smile. Which I know is exactly what he wanted.
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