Funerals are something many don’t like to talk about, but following the beautiful rendition of funeral favourite Abide With Me at the Olympic Games opening ceremony, we take a look at popular funeral songs in the UK.

Popular culture has made its mark when it comes to final farewells.

More and more Brits are opting for pop music as a tribute to their loved ones at funerals.

This is according to Co-operative Funeralcare, the UK’s largest funeral director, which carries out research into the most popular funeral songs and hymns every few years.

The most recent survey, conducted in 2009, noted the particular impact of television, not just on British lives but on deaths aswell.

Changing tastes

Hymns at funerals continue to decline in popularity, according to the research, down six per cent between 2009 and the previous survey in 2005.

This decline in popularity is at the expense of contemporary melodies, which now account for over half of songs played.

Frank Sinatra’s My Way topped the popular music chart.

This is followed by Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings and Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman.

Top 10 popular songs


Song & artist

1 My Way by Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
2 Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler/Celine Dion
3 Time To Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
4 Angels by Robbie Williams
5 Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
6 You Raise Me Up by Westlife/Boyzone/Josh Grobin
7 My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion
8 I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
9 You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers
10 Unforgettable by Nat King Cole


Unusual music requests

More than a quarter of funeral homes surveyed said they had received unusual music requests.

This includes television themes from Emmerdale, Top Gear and Only Fools and Horses.

Some of the quirkier requests also saw Al Doctor and the Medics’ Spirit in the Sky, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and even So Long, Farewell, from The Sound of Music being asked for.

However, Co-operative Funeralcare’s research shows that around one in every 10 music requests have been rejected, usually because clergy conducting the funeral feel the choice is inappropriate.

Top ten hymns

Tastes in hymns and classical music remain unchanged with The Lord is my Shepherd in first place, followed by Abide With Me and All Things Bright and Beautiful.


Song & artist

1 The Lord Is My Shepherd
2 Abide With Me
3 All Things Bright And Beautiful
4 Old Rugged Cross
5 Amazing Grace
6 How Great Thou Art
7 The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended
8 Jerusalem
9 Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
10 Morning Has Broken

‘Tear-jerking chart topper’

Lorinda Sheasby of Co-operative Funeralcare said the study showed that trends in funerals were changing.

“Today’s tear-jerking chart topper is extremely unlikely to be tomorrow’s funeral classic but it’s quite possible it will figure highly in the months or even years to come,” she explained.

“As more people choose non-religious funerals, so they incline towards contemporary songs with which they closely identify,” she added.

“Our aim is to make more people aware of the options and choices open to them, so that ultimately the funeral service reflects the life of the individual, which is of great benefit to the bereaved.”