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Madison Choral Project is a group of church members who, when available, sing for Masses of Christian Burial. This ministry is open to anyone who wants to serve this way.
Well-chosen music can aid mourners in lifting their hearts to the God of all comfort. It can transform what could easily be a service for the crowd into a truly worshipful one.
A funeral choir is a group of people who make themselves available to sing at services when requested by families. It is a wonderful corporal work of mercy that can comfort grieving families, especially when they hear their loved ones’ voices in the church’s song. Typically, funeral choir members will have an established group of hymns that they will sing regularly and will only need to rehearse new pieces once before a service, if at all. The singers also may want to dress in a way that is appropriate for the service.
The term “requiem” commonly applies to musical settings of portions of the Mass for the Dead (Requiem aeternam dona eis, lux perpetua luceat eis). Historically, these works have been sung at special masses or to accompany funerals. Many early works, such as the Missa pro defunctis by Tomas Luis de Victoria or the Requiem of the Dead by Gabriel Faure, were written as Gregorian chants and are still used today. However, as the composers moved into the 18th and 19th centuries, their requiems often became dramatic concert works. The orchestras and instrumental forces required by these works were often too large or too long for ordinary funerals to accommodate.
As late as the 20th century, requiems continued to take greater and greater liberties with the text of the Mass for the Dead. For example, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem combines passages from the Mass with the poetry of Wilfred Owen and is a potent reminder of the horrors of world war.
For those who prefer a lighter touch, hiring a solo funeral singer to perform at the service is always possible. A solo funeral singer will have a much wider selection of music from which to choose, including popular songs and musical theatre pieces. They will also be able to quickly find and learn any piece of music that the family might request for the service.
The funeral choir must have a good balance of experienced and inexperienced singers. Those with limited experience may need help to keep up with the more advanced parts and can end up sounding shaky. Professional singers should be able to give the funeral choir a strong foundation of musical support and help them to communicate more cohesively as they sing together.
Although some people think funerals should be a sad and serious occasion, it is also possible to have a more positive service. Choosing uplifting hymns can help with this. For example, “Love Divine” reminds congregants that love can keep them from doing so even when the darkness of grief threatens to extinguish all hope.
Likewise, Morning Has Broken’s joyful melody and lyrics can comfort mourners that their loved ones aren’t alone in the darkest hours of loss. Similarly, the song “Old Rugged Cross” may be a country and Western classic, but its lyrics of being guided through the wilderness to a place where the thirsty will be quenched make it a suitable funeral hymn for many families.
A similar sentiment is found in the classic “In Paradisum.” Its high, floating melody tenderly evokes Heaven and makes it a fitting choice for funerals that focus on finding comfort in believing that those we love will be reunited with us.
Several traditional Christian hymns are appropriate for funerals. The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer, set to music by Franz Schubert, are a familiar comfort for all faiths and have been recorded by countless musicians over the years. The Irish folk song “A Gaelic Blessing,” based on an old Irish prayer, may seem strange for a funeral, but its message of peace and hope for the future is universal.
Another Christian hymn often used for funerals is the “Laudate Dominum” anthem from Mozart’s Coronation Mass. This choral piece, which features a tranquil and beautiful melody, is a perfect way to end the funeral service. Alternatively, the prayer of St Richard of Chichester can provide comfort for those who struggle to accept the death of a loved one. Its message encourages listeners to draw strength from the community of those around them and to achieve St Richard’s goal of knowing God and loving his people better. This can be particularly empowering for those who are not religious.
While funerals can feel like a time to focus on grief, it’s important to remember that they should also be uplifting. Music celebrating a loved one’s life can help mourners find hope and comfort. There are many beautiful, uplifting funeral songs to choose from. The most important thing is ensuring the music reflects the deceased person. It should be something they would enjoy, making everyone feel closer to them.
There are many great choices of classical music to play at a funeral, but many people prefer contemporary tunes. Many popular songs can be played at a funeral, including the classics such as Eric Clapton’s poignant When You’re Smiling and the more modern Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley. There are also plenty of Christian music options, such as the calming You’ll Never Walk Alone or the gentle Wind Beneath My Wings, a favorite among funeral planners.
Another good option is a traditional psalm, such as the well-known Psalm 23 or the more reflective On Eagle’s Wings. These anthems offer hope and peace to those who are mourning, and both choir and congregation can sing them. In addition, a great option is a prayer by St Richard of Chichester. This can be sung by the choir or congregation, focusing on the importance of community support during this difficult time.
Finally, an excellent choice is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ anthem for Easter. While playing this at a funeral may seem odd, it offers hope that the dead will be reunited with their loved ones and that the resurrection can bring true peace.
If you’re looking for a more contemporary song, Beyonce’s Heaven is a popular choice of funeral songs. This simple piano ballad is incredibly moving and can help mourners come to terms with the loss of their loved ones. It’s a powerful reminder that they will see their lost family members again in the next life.
When available, a funeral choir is a group of people who come to church and sing at a funeral mass or service for a deceased member of the community. It is a corporal work of mercy that can heal the grieving family. It can also be a very uplifting experience for the singers as they sing songs to console the bereaved. The funeral choir sings at a very low level, usually in unison or four-part harmony, and their song choices are chosen carefully.
Several different styles of music are suitable for funerals, including classical, pop songs, and spirituals. The latter are Southern sacred folk songs first sung by African Americans during slavery. Many original spirituals are in a call-and-response format, with back-and-forth exchanges between singers. Often, they are accompanied by a piano.
The hymnal is an excellent music source for funerals, and most include many spirituals. However, the music may be dated and not appeal to some current worshipers. The pastor may hire a professional singer or musician to provide a more up-to-date selection.
One of the best ways to find appropriate music is to check out the topical index in a hymnal. The index will give you a list of the most popular songs and hymns and a short description. Many of the more contemporary hymns and songs will be familiar to the congregation, and they will be easier for them to sing along with.
Another option is to look for new music on the internet. Many online music sites have songs that are appropriate for funerals. These songs are generally easy to learn and can be sung in unison or four-part harmony. Some of these songs are even sung in languages other than English.
A newer trend in funeral music is to use songs particularly meaningful to the deceased person, such as Calon Lan, sung by the Welsh singer Shirley Bassey at her memorial. This can create a sense of intimacy at the services, as the song reminds people of the beauty of nature and God’s gift of eternal life.