MUSIC choices for funerals and weddings are becoming ever more
eclectic, a survey by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has
Requests included the theme tunes from Star Wars,
Doctor Who, The Benny Hill Show, and the
children's cartoon series Captain Pugwash. In most
instances, they were accepted by the officiating minister. Even
Johnny Cash's 1963 hit "Ring of fire" was allowed for one person
who was to be cremated.
Occasionally, however, church officials have drawn the line.
Tunes that were turned down include "Combine Harvester" by the
Wurzels; John Lennon's "Imagine", which was rejected for its
"theological dissonance"; and music from the film Sister
Act - a request described as "the most ridiculous in recent
More than 200 churches re-sponded to the RSCM questionnaire.
About 80 per cent were in the UK, but some responses came from as
far away as Australia. The majority were Anglican (80 per cent),
but 12 other denominations contributed.
There was debate about the use of recorded music. Some refused
point-blank, but many were relaxed about using new technology. The
findings suggest that requests for pre-recorded music are still
occasional rather than frequent, although 52 per cent of the
respondents say that the regularity of these requests has increased
in the past decade.
The author of the report, Stuart Robinson, a church organist,
said that many churches have sought to cater for these requests by
devising new services to use alongside traditional ones, rather
than replacing them.
There were several comments about the singing at weddings and
funerals, including observations that the choice of hymns was
sometimes limited to those learned at school. Mr Robinson said:
"One respondent says their organist tries to encourage wedding
couples to use the choir to strengthen the singing. Another
suggested a wider range of hymns, songs, and choral music through
CDs, or links to online tracks."
Question of the week: Should
relatives be given a free choice over music at a funeral?