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Songs for Funerals - Choosing Funeral Music to Make the Service Meaningful

By Susan Colin

Finding the right songs for funerals or memorial services can seem difficult because most families are in shock or are overwhelmed with making arrangements. However, there are some easy to follow basic concepts when selecting funeral music that can make this process go smoothly.

Often times people have left instructions, either verbal or written, to play a song that was important to them in their lives. Ranging from old spirituals to folk songs to arias to rock anthems, the choice may seem confusing to casual acquaintances, but a close family member or friend will understand and can share with the gathering of mourners the relevance of this song. By honoring the deceased person's request, mourners have a final opportunity to share a moment with their loved one, and each other. This provides a cohesive experience when all in attendance can take comfort and experience a powerful moment of shared grief as well as the poignant celebration of a life completed.

Regardless of most people's level of religious observation, having songs that refer to some scripture can provide a familiar source of strength. Christians and Jews alike typically include Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd..." This prayer has numerous musical settings, both in English and Hebrew. A particularly elegant version is written in Hebrew by Gerald Cohen, called "Adonai Roi."

Transcending religious affiliation, everyone wants to be remembered as a worthwhile person. We are as significant as the love we created and now leave behind. The Native American poem "I am with you still" (also sometimes written as "I did not die") provides a comforting reminder that those we love remain in our hearts, in the breezes that blow, in everything we choose to remember. "I am with you still" has a musical setting in English with one additional phrase in Hebrew, selected from Proverbs 10:7, which translates to "The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing." This is a perfect song for a funeral or memorial service for both young and old. When we speak the name of our loved one we remember him or her as a blessing in our lives, and in the world.

Songs for funerals provide mourners with a powerful and important opportunity to reflect, share their grief, immerse in love and gratitude, and create a new and final memory that can be drawn upon in the potentially difficult and sad times ahead. Later, as time passes and sadness subsides, this music can provide a gentle and soothing reminder of the gift of loving and being loved.

Susan Colin is a singer, songwriter and Cantorial Soloist who often sings at funeral and memorial services. Susan lives in the Dallas, Texas area and her recordings can be heard at http://www.susancolin.com and http://www.itunes.com


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