The 30 songs most played at funerals – and what we actually want

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‘My Way’ is the song most likely to be played at a funeral according to SunLife’s 2021 Cost of Dying report with one in every 25 funerals playing Frank Sinatra’s 1969 hit.

SunLife’s report reveals that, after ‘My Way’, the most popular song is ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, followed by Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and then Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’.

However, if we were to choose our own funeral music, ‘My Way’ would not be the top choice; we’d rather have the comedy song ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ sung by Eric Idle in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

In second place is John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, followed by the Liverpool football anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry & The Pacemakers. ‘My Way’ comes in at number four. (Full top 30 listed at bottom of the release)

According to SunLife’s 2021 Cost of Dying report, less than a third of people make their preference for a funeral song known – in most cases (71%) the funeral song is chosen by someone else – most often the person organising the funeral.

And actually, the most common ‘send-off’ music played at funerals is a hymn, not a song.

‘Amazing Grace’ is the most popular funeral music overall, knocking last year’s number one – ‘Abide with Me’ – off the top spot.

‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ is next, with’ The Lord is My Shepherd’ and ‘Jerusalem’ also in the top 10.

But, when SunLife asked people what ‘send-off’ music they’d like at their own funerals, there was just one in the top 10 – ‘Lord of all Hopefulness’ – which came in at number six and doesn’t even feature in the top ten songs actually played at funerals.

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife said: “Our report shows that most people don’t make their funeral music choices known. But, when we asked people directly about what type of music they’d like, the majority of did have a preference and overwhelmingly, that preference is for songs over hymns.

“However, if we don’t tell loved ones what we want, it would appear that hymns often become the default option; three of the top five most played ‘send-off’ songs were hymns and interestingly, the hymn that is actually the most popular doesn’t even feature!”

To help people find their perfect send-off song, SunLife has created the Funeral Song Generator; it asks questions about preferred music, colours, flowers and how they’d like to be remembered, and works out the perfect ‘song to go out to’.

Ian concludes: “We created the Funeral Song Generator to try and encourage people to have a bit of fun finding their perfect send-off music, and hopefully remove some of the awkwardness around talking about funerals. Once the generator has found your perfect song, you can then share the results on social media, which will hopefully encourage friends and family to find their perfect send-off song too!”

Top 30 songs played at funerals

  1. My Way (Frank Sinatra)
  2. Time To Say Goodbye ((Sarah Brightman And Andrea Bocelli)
  3. We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn)
  4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy)
  5. The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)
  6. Angels (Robbie Williams)
  7. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Gerry & The Pacemakers)
  8. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (Monty Python)
  9. Sailing (Rod Stewart)
  10. You Raise Me Up (Westlife)
  11. The Rose (Bette Midler)
  12. Bring Me Sunshine (Morecombe and Wise)
  13. Simply The Best (Tina Turner)
  14. Hallelujah (various artists)
  15. I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston)
  16. Let It Be (The Beatles)
  17. Highway To Hell (AC/DC)
  18. Waltzing Matilda (Rod Stewart)
  19. Fields Of Gold (Eva Cassidy)
  20. What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
  21. Annie’s Song (John Denver)
  22. Nimrod (Green Day)
  23. Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Simon & Garfunkel)
  24. Danny Boy
  25. That’s Life (Frank Sinatra)
  26. Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum)
  27. Bat out of Hell (Meatloaf)
  28. The Last Waltz (Englebert Humperdinck)
  29. Moon River (Andy Williams)
  30. In the Mood (Glenn Miller)



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