Pop tunes eclipse hymns at British funerals
X Factor anthems and television theme tunes are now the popular choice at funerals as traditional hymns fall out of favour.
By Anita Singh
Daily Telegraph 16 Apr 2009
My Way by Frank Sinatra is still the the most requested songAbide With Me, Amazing Grace and Jerusalem have been eclipsed by the strains of Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion and Robbie Williams, according to the latest figures.
A survey of 30,000 funerals conducted last year found that hymns were the most popular requests at only 35 per cent of services, down from 41 per cent in 2005. Contemporary songs accounted for 58 per cent of requests, up from 55 per cent, with classical pieces making up the remaining seven per cent (from 4 per cent).
My Way by Frank Sinatra was the most requested piece of music overall, followed by Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler and Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. You Raise Me Up by Westlife made its first appearance in the top 10, alongside Angels by Robbie Williams and Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy.
Hallelujah, by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, appeared at number 26 only months after topping the Christmas chart.
Humour played a part in many funerals, with Always Look On The Bright Side of Life from Monty Python's Life of Brian among the most requested tunes. Funeral homes also reported a number of unusual requests, including the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast and the themes to everything from Only Fools and Horses and Top Gear to Benny Hill, Z Cars and Channel 4 Racing.
Some songs are considered too outlandish for the occasion, however. One in every 10 requests is rejected by the clergy conducting the ceremony on the grounds of inappropriateness, according to the survey by Co-operative Funeralcare, the UK's largest funeral director.
While requests for contemporary songs vary from year to year according to which artists are enjoying chart success, tastes in hymns and classical music have remained unchanged since 2005. The Lord Is My Shepherd, Abide With Me and All Things Bright and Beautiful are the three most popular hymns, while Elgar's Nimrod from Enigma Variations, Pie Jesu from Faure's Requiem and Ave Maria by Schubert are the top three classical pieces.
Lorinda Sheasby of Co-operative Funeralcare said the findings indicated that tastes are changing, with television programmes and chart hits influencing people's choices.
"Today's tear-jerking chart topper is extremely unlikely to be tomorrow's funeral classic but it's quite possible it will figure highly in the months or even years to come."
My Way - Frank Sinatra
You Raise Me Up - Westlife
Hallelujah - Alexandra Burke
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Abide With Me
All Things Bright and Beautiful