Tastes in music change all the time and we've written before about how the sound of UK funerals has evolved in recent years. As with many aspects of modern funerals, more traditional choices have been giving way to personal preferences.
However, that trend may have slowed following the Queen’s funeral last year. A June 2023 report in the Guardian notes that there are two hymns back in the UK’s top-10 funeral music for the first time in seven years. All Things Bright and Beautiful is at number 8, and Abide With Me is at number 9.
The chart, which is compiled of music selected at 93,000 UK funerals, also showed that two hymns performed at the Queen’s funeral were increasingly popular choices. The hymns in question were The Lord’s My Shepherd, and The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended.
Topping the chart of popular funeral music was Time to Say Goodbye, sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. Frank Sinatra singing 1969’s My Way is at number 2, while the more modern Supermarket Flowers from Ed Sheeran is third.
Popular funeral music choices
Most of the other songs in the top-ten list will be very familiar to people: Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn, and Eva Cassidy’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
However, the final song on the top ten is Dancing in the Sky by Canadian duo Dani and Lizzy. It’s less of a classic than the others, but the 10-year old tribute to a friend has been played almost 70 million times on YouTube.
The former most popular song at UK funerals, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ You’ll Never Walk Alone, fell to number 7 in the chart. Similarly, the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life dropped out of the top 10 completely in 2023.
Other popular funeral music choices reflect allegiances to sports teams; football anthems for Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow clubs feature on a separate sports top-10, alongside the theme tunes for Match of the Day, Cricket, and Formula One.
The funeral music chart highlights a gap between the music people say they would plan for their own funeral, and the music that actually gets played. Jerusalem by Sir Hubert Parry and What a Wonderful World sung by Louis Armstrong were among the most popular choices for people planning their own funerals, but neither appears in the most-played list.
A huge range of artists and genres, from Country & Western to Indie Pop, are now common at UK funerals. Individual music choices, however quirky, can help friends and family remember the deceased as they were.
Wayne Hector, who wrote the funeral favourite Flying Without Wings for Westlife has said,
“At a funeral you want a certain amount of joy, a song about hope rather than a sad song. As much as you're lamenting someone's passing, you're celebrating their life."
With music taste being such a personal thing, it makes sense to be very clear about the songs, hymns or theme tunes you would like to be played at your funeral. Leaving behind a clear plan for your funeral music takes the stress off your family at a difficult time, making it easy for them to respect your wishes.
With a pre-paid funeral plan you’ll also be able to select whichever music you want to be remembered by. With a Golden Charter funeral plan, you can update these instructions at any time - music tastes change, after all!