Pop tunes eclipse hymns at British funerals

Abide 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).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Music, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

6 comments on “Pop tunes eclipse hymns at British funerals

  1. Sidney says:

    This is not just about the decline of Christianity. It’s about the the fact that life – even in death – is easier to take than it once was. “My Way” and “Look on the bright side of life” are things that can perhaps be tolerated with somebody who has lived a full life and died in old age, perhaps, but not with someone who gets struck down while still young and in the prime of life by the sorts of diseases that were common even a few decades ago. Even today, nobody would play them at the funeral of a teenager killed by a drunk driver.

    The traditional music was written by a generation for whom life was tough, and the moments of contentment and satisfaction less common. Such people looked beyond the world for hope, because this world just didn’t provide it.

  2. teatime says:

    I’d want a mix of music, frankly, that would reflect my life and interests. I LOVE the hymns, but anyone who knows me well would smile and think it entirely appropriate for “Extraordinary Girl” by Green Day to be played, as well, either before the liturgy started or after it ended. And I’d hope they would dance!

  3. libraryjim says:

    I don’t know, teatime, in the old days, the funeral would be divided between the church service and the wake. The secular songs would be played at the wake, aka party for the friends and family, when the person’s life was to be celebrated. At the church, hymns and religious songs.

  4. teatime says:

    True that, libraryjim. I plan to be cremated and probably won’t have a traditional wake. I do NOT want my dead body put on display and I can’t justify the expense of renting a room at a funeral home for my urn. Maybe having a big ole barbecue after the funeral services would be best and then my son (who actually does pick up some extra cash DJ-ing) can play my favorite songs. 🙂

  5. libraryjim says:

    Teatime, that sounds great! I plan to have a piper at the grave site (even if I’m cremated) playing Amazing Grace and Skye Boat Song. (yes I know it’s secular, but in the church for the memorial service, all Christian songs).

    It’s funny, but another forum asked the question: what three songs would you like played at your funeral?

    Mine were:
    Make my life a prayer to you (Melody & Keith Green)
    Be Thou My Vision
    The King of Love (St. Columba tune) a version of the 23rd Psalm
    I added a fourth: On Eagle’s Wings, by Michael Joncas

    Oh, there are others, but those are on my top three.

  6. Isaac says:

    True story. Two years ago when I was a youth worker in the UK, we had a 17 year-old in the neighborhood wrap his car around a tree. What music did his family select to be played as the casket was carried out to the crem.?

    “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles with the line “Is this burning an eternal flame?”