I have listed the most popular hymns requested at funerals below. Whether they speak about trust, hope, guidance, the resurrection or the day’s end, their words give comfort to many people. They are as follows:
Abide With Me (Eventide); The Day Thou Gavest (St. Clement); The Lord’s My Shepherd (Crimond); How Great Thou Art (O Store Gud); Amazing Grace (New Britain); Morning Has Broken (Bunessan); Be Thou My Vision (Slane); I Watch The Sunrise; Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind (Repton); Be Still my Soul (Finlandia); Do Not Be Afraid; Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Blaenwern).
Unlike weddings, there are no traditional pieces of music closely associated with a funeral, unless you count the famous and heavily clichéd funeral march by Chopin. The most requested piece of music I have been asked to play surprisingly enough is the Londonderry Air, better known as ‘Danny Boy’. Since a good number of the funerals I play at are Irish Catholic, this is little surprising.
Another piece I am often asked to play is’ Ave Maria’. However, people don’t always seem to realise that there are several versions of it in existence as when I ask them which one they would like, they are unsure. The two most famous versions of the’ Ave Maria’ were of course written by Gounod (based on a prelude by Bach) and Schubert.
In a drive to make funerals more tailor-made for the individual, families are increasingly requesting pop music in church. This is typically played during the procession of the pallbearers and family members into church, and again on exit.