a relative or near friend has died many decisions have to be made, not least about
the funeral. You will find that, having chosen a funeral director, he or she will
guide you through many of these decisions, and help you come to satisfactory conclusions.
One aspect which can need particular help is the choice of music for the actual
ceremony, whether it is religious or secular; in a church or a cemetery/crematorium
chapel. This page indicates some of the choices that can be made.
In many cases they can be mixed and matched, so it is always worth discussing
Generally speaking, the music will consist of:
- Music before the ceremony or during the entrance of the coffin and/or
- Music during the ceremony, perhaps hymns or some special piece
to listen to;
- Music as the family and coffin and /or family leave.
Funerals Held in a ChurchIf
you choose to have the funeral in a church it is likely that you have some connection
with that particular congregation or denomination. Any wishes concerning
the music will have to be approved by the minister or priest who has responsibility
for that particular church, and/or the person who will actually conduct the ceremony.
Unless you make some very unusual choices (such as a song with words which would
not be suitable for use in a church) there is not likely to be any problem.
You may choose to have just recorded music, or engage an organist. If you
want an organist, this must be discussed with the minister of the church, as most
congregations have a resident organist who may expect to play for all funerals.
If this is not the case, the minister or your funeral director may offer to
find a suitable person, or you can ask one yourself It is quite
possible to mix both recorded music and hymns/pieces played by the organist in
the same service. As most churches do not have many funerals on any one
day, there are not the same restrictions of time that a crematorium or cemetery
may impose, and it is possible to choose more hymns and music.
Funerals Held in a Cemetery
or Crematorium ChapelUnless you have a connection with some
particular church or denomination, it is often easier and more convenient to hold
the ceremony in one of the chapels provided at a cemetery or crematorium.
Here you will have much greater freedom of choice of music than in a church, but
find that the restrictions of time imposed limit the total number of pieces.
You may find that you are allotted just 30 minutes, in which time you must enter
the chapel, complete the ceremony, and leave. Generally speaking, this allows
for just two pieces/hymns, apart from the music for entering and leaving.
As with churches, some cemeteries and crematoria have a resident organist
who will expect to play if you have live music or hymns, whereas at others are
unregulated in this matter. Your funeral director will advise you on
this matter, and find an organist for you if appropriate. Alternatively,
you may wish to choose an organist yourself.
HymnsMany people wish to sing
hymns as part of a service but are unsure which to choose. Churches usually
have their own hymn books, and most cemetery and crematorium chapels have a service
book with a choice of well-loved hymns, and these books are entirely satisfactory
in most instances. They include such examples as.
hymn be requested which is not in these books, most funeral directors will arrange
for hymn sheets to be produced. As a general point, it really is worth considering
who will sing the hymns, and what effect this will have on the service.
If you yourself are confident singing, or you know that members of the congregation
will give a good vocal lead, everything should be fine. However, if this
is not the case, most of the singing will be left to the minister. He or
she may cope very well, but will have a theological training, not musical - so
the effect could be far less than satisfactory. x
- The Lord's
- Abide with Me;
- The Old Rugged Cross
Great Thou Art, and
- Make me a Channel of Thy Peace.
use of recorded music in funeral services and ceremonies is widespread and convenient.
On the positive side, it gives you access to the music of your choice, performed
by the singers or musicians you like, in the style you are accustomed to. On the
other hand, it may be played on poor equipment, which is operated by a chapel
attendant who has so much to do that he/she does not have time to integrate the
music into the service in the most discrete manner. Most crematoria and
cemetery chapels (but only some churches) have a selection of well-known recorded
pieces which you can choose from. Alternatively, you may provide your
own tapes and CDs. Discussion with your funeral director can clarify
many points here. For many people, the main advantage of using recorded
music is that it does not incur another expense.
Engaging an Organist or Other Musicians/SingersAs
there is often some religious element in a funeral service, including hymn singing,
it is to some degree traditional to hire an organist to be present. This
is particularly important if you do decide to sing hymns as it is very difficult
to co-ordinate live voices with a tape or CD. An organist will also play music
before and after the service. As for recorded music, engaging an organist
can have both positive and negative consequences: on the positive side, a skilled
person can play music in many styles in a convincing manner, and can tailor the
music and mood very exactly to what is actually happening at any particular
moment. Conversely, a less skilled musician may just manage to play a couple of
hymns. Whether you are organising the funeral in a church or cemetery/crematorium
chapel, please read the relevant sections above.
In addition to an organist,
or instead of one, it is possible to introduce other instrumental or vocal performers
into the ceremony. These could be family members or friends of the deceased,
or people specially engaged. The possibilities here are many, and include:
For a satisfactory result in this
area, unless you know exactly what and who you want, it really is best to consult
a professional musician who has the skills and experience to help you make your
decisions, and then to put them into effect. Once again, your funeral
director can help you in this matter, or you can make contact with someone
yourself. If you are interested in this second option, click
- A Vocal soloist to lead the singing or perform other requests;
A Scottish piper;
- A Jazz ensemble;
- A Choir;
any instrument/vocal group/ensemble.
of the comments above apply also to non-religious ceremonies, just making small
adjustments to allow for the absence of any religious content. Many
of the "organists" mentioned above are, in fact, professional musicians who work
extensively in the secular side of music and are able to perform music of all
styles convincingly. Your funeral director can advise you about this,
or you can make contact with suitable
Fees and Charges
This is the most difficult area to give any generalised guidelines on,
as each church, organist, choir, and singer is free to make their own
demands. The following are fairly typical of fees being paid at present.
Most Common: £60
Raw Average: £63.49
Some cemetery and crematorium
chapels do not have an organ or piano but the organist may be able to supply a
suitable electronic keyboard. Some organists make an extra charge for this.Singers
and instrumentalists are likely to charge fees which are largely similar.
Copyright, Performance Rights, and
This section is included for the sake of completeness. Where legal
matters are mentioned it cannot be considered to be legal advice - just
an indication that the subject matter is worthy of some attention. How
you respond to this information is up to you.
All music and words,
where the composer or author is alive, or has been dead for less than 70 years,
are subject to copyright. This means that, strictly speaking, copies of
them cannot be made without permission of the copyright holder. This is
particularly applicable to producing hymns sheets as mentioned above or photocopying
music. Many churches and other organisations have agreements which allow
them to make copies, so the problem is less than it used to be. But, theoretically,
before asking for any piece of music or words to be copied you, or someone you
nominate, should find out if they are in copyright and take appropriate action.
The same also applies to words and music by persons long dead, but published within
the last 25 years. There is graphic copyright on the actual published edition
and permission should be sought. Whether this is practical or not is another matter.
It can take a month or two to gain permission to reproduce copyright material,
and most funerals are arranged and over within 7-10 days.
If music or words are in copyright there probably exists performance
rights in connection with them as well, which means that they cannot be publicly
performed without permission. Luckily, however, performance rights do not
apply in the UK to performances which take place in the course of a religious
ceremony. Such a waiver does not apply to the playing of recorded music
in public places or churches. But whether it is practical to pursue the
legal aspects of this in the short time that a funeral takes to arrange is another
Videos and Recordings
This is particularly applicable if you have engaged an organist
or other singers/musicians. They "own" their performance, and
no one is allowed to make a recording of it without there permission.
This permission is usually obtained by paying a double fee for a video
recording or a 50% increase for an audio recording (but these rates
vary). Not all organists and performers exercise this right, but
if you are intending to have any sort of recording made of the service
or ceremony, it is important to check this out beforehand.
| This page has been prepared by
Philip Norman Music Services. |
If you wish to discuss any of the
points raised above, please ring him on
(020) 8519 6491 or 07939 064
or fill in the online form below.
There is no charge
for this service.