The following is the outline of a formal funeral service in North America. This can vary and be modified and simplified. We have been providing music for funeral and memorial services for both religious and secular settings. Funeral service is normally structured by the institution that is hosting the funeral (a church, synagogue, a funeral home, a community centre or a private household).
Memorial Service Music
Music can bring enormous emotional relief and comfort during the funeral / memorial service of any size. Just few right songs played at the right moment are felt deeply emotional by the friends and family of the deceased and serve as the best comfort for those who are experiencing the loss.
How to Plan Music for a Memorial Service
- Music can be included into Prelude while guests are gathering before the funeral.
- Introductions/Welcoming. This can include opening music while attendees get seated, a welcoming speech from the person conducting the service, a short speech outlining events, etc.
- Musical selections, hymns, verses. This can be religious or secular music. If guests are encouraged to sing along, the lyrics or words can be included in the order of service booklet.
- Prayers or readings. These will have a specific timeframe with religious ceremonies, but it is common to have them at the beginning and end of service for both religious and non-religious services.
- Eulogy. This is a speech spoken at a funeral that pays tribute to the deceased person and their life. The person giving the eulogy is usually planned ahead of time. (Learn more about writing a eulogy here: How to Write a Eulogy).
- Personal or informal tributes. This is a time when guests will have the opportunity to share personal memories or experiences with the deceased. The individual(s) sharing can be decided ahead of time or open to everyone with an open mic-style event.
- Moment of silence. This is when guests are expected to be silent while they remember the deceased person.
- Viewing the deceased. This can be on the day of burial or interment. However, it can also happen at a visitation, viewing, or wake.
- Funeral procession. A funeral procession is a motorcade of cars – or occasionally mourners on foot – that follows a hearse containing the deceased’s body to their final resting place.
- Committal or graveside service. This is a service held at a cemetery or crematorium. This often includes prayers, flower placement, interment of body, etc.
- Thanks and acknowledgements. This is a time when the deceased person’s family will thank everyone for their help, consideration, and support in remembering and honouring the deceased.
- Closing music. This can be religious or secular music, and lyrics can be included in the order of service booklet.
- Post-funeral activities: Reception or repast.