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Soothing Classical Funeral Songs

Category: Planning A Funeral

Music at a funeral can be extremely moving. It has the power to bring peace and joy to all those listening. Some songs may allow the mourners to reflect on the life of the person being memorialised, especially if the piece was meaningful to the deceased. Therefore, choosing the right piece of music can be challenging. Ideally, your choices will help to honour your loved one and set the tone for the service.

Classical music is an extremely popular choice for a funeral. As well as classical music written especially for funerals, there are many other beautiful, touching pieces of classical music right for the occasion. With no strict rules on how to choose the best piece for your loved one, we’ve listed our top 5 choices to inspire you.

Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending

This is easily the most popular work by Vaughan Williams to be used at a funeral. A solo violinist elegantly expresses the rise and fall of a bird in flight. The spine-tingling piece has the wonderful capacity to emulate happiness, joy and freedom at the same time as deep sadness and loss.

Vaughan Williams was inspired by the beautiful words of the English poet George Meredith. He writes,

“For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.”

Barber – Adagio for Strings

The solemnness of this music has been known to have a profound effect on all those who listen. It has the ability to draw listeners into a quiet, thoughtful reflection. So much so that it has been used at the grand funerals of Albert Einstein, President John F. Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Morten Lauridsen - O Magnum Mysterium

This would be a stunning choice for those looking for a choral piece for the funeral service. Although often chosen for Christmas performances and church settings, this masterpiece by Lauridsen is both moving and poignant and would be suitable in any venue. The harmonies that feature throughout the piece are both sensitive and spiritual, making it the perfect option.

Anton Dvorak - Symphony No. 9, Largo, 2nd Mvmt. (Going Home)

Originally part of a symphony by Dvorak, this piece has since been adapted with lyrics and sung by a range of musicians with a message of finding peace in the next life. With its familiar melody, the truly moving song includes these words:

“Every tear wiped away,
Pain and sickness gone;
Wide awake there with Him!
Peace goes on and on!
Going home, going home,
I’ll be going home.
See the Light! See the Sun!
I’m just going home.”

Schubert - String Quintet in C, ‘Adagio’

Not only is this instrumental piece nostalgic and lamenting, the story behind the music is also moving in itself. This is Schubert’s last masterpiece, written only months before his death in 1828. Even more despairing, it was never even heard in his lifetime. This tender music has been described as an entrance to heaven and genuinely pulls at the heartstrings.