Funeral and Memorial Services

 

Music consoles us when we are grieving.  Music expresses what words cannot.  Music heals us.  Music brings our most treasured memories to the present.  Music touches each of us individually, but also lets us know that we are not alone.

There are already many details and order of business to oversee in planning a funeral or memorial service, so my goal is to help ease the process of choosing music for your loved one's service.  The info listed here is intended to help as a guide to planning music for a service. Keeping things more simple will help prevent a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Advanced Planning
f you are making arrangements for your own service in the future, this process can help you retain control of your wishes.  It will also help those around you by knowing that they will be able to carry forth your wishes.  Your planning would be a gift to them.

Funeral

A funeral often occurs soon after a passing.  This often means that there is not much time for family and close ones to plan out the service and make meaningful choices.  The process is additionally difficult when the emotions are raw. 

Memorial Service

A memorial service can take place anytime, usually within a year after a passing.  While it may still be emotionally difficult, there is usually more time to plan a beautiful tribute to your dearly departed.  A luncheon may accompany the service, and will usually includes stories and memories shared by family and close friends.

Celebration of Life
A celebration of life service is can be synonymous with a memorial service, taking place after a passing, however, there is an option to celebrate the life of someone while they are alive and able to participate.  For those with a terminal illness, this can be a poignant occasion.

Viewing/Wake

A viewing, or a wake is not a formal service, but a time set aside before the funeral for each person to be in the presence of a loved one who has passed, and to pay respects or say final good-byes.  It is also a chance to share a moment with the family or close ones, as there may not be a chance to do so during a formal service.  The viewing is typically a 2-3 hours prior to the funeral service on the same day, or on the evening before.

Order of Service for a Funeral

Unless the service includes a formal religious liturgy, there is flexibility to put together a personal dedication in a way that would honor the loved one's desires.  Music can play an integral part of the service, and provide solace during the viewing.

A funeral director or clergy member will help you to create an order of service.  Some favorite pieces or songs of your loved one, and those that you shared together may be included either before or during the service.  Here is an outline of a funeral that you could modify to create a more personal service.

Nondenominational
Prelude music often begins about 30 minutes, or longer with a 2-3 hour viewing, prior to the opening of the service.  Friends and relatives attending the service to pay respects will find the music comforting during this difficult time.
Often a celebrant will lead the service.  The service may include poems, excerpts from favorite books, stories told by family and friends.

Music can be interspersed during the service to allow moments of reflection, and con continue post-service during a reception.

Catholic Service with Mass
Prelude music often begins about 30 minutes, or longer with a 2-3 hour viewing, prior to the opening of the service.  Friends and relatives attending the service to pay respects will find the music comforting during this difficult time.

Entrance Song:  Usually a hymn.

Responsorial Psalm:  Usually sung and led by a cantor, but can also be spoken.

Gospel Acclamation/Alleluia:  Usually sung and led by a cantor, but can also be spoken.

Offertory:  Music to accompany the Presentation and Preparation of Gifts.

Eucharistic Acclamations:  Holy, When We Eat This Bread, Amen, Agnus Dei, usually from a setting.

Communion:  Usually a hymn.

Post-Communion Reflection (optional):  A special musical selection may be chosen.

Final Commendation:  A song of farewell or commemoration.

Final Song or Hymn:  To send forth.

Christian Service

Prelude music often begins about 30 minutes, or longer with a 2-3 hour viewing, prior to the opening of the service.  Friends and relatives attending the service to pay respects will find the music comforting during this difficult time.

Hymns are sung or played between readings, commemorations or eulogies offered by a pastor, family and close friends.
A special musical selection may be chosen for a time of reflection.
Closing hymn and music to signify the ending of the service, transition to a reception.