Music, Poems & Prayers

If the deceased has not made any specific requests in a funeral plan then it is best to select music, readings, poems, prayers and hymns that you feel reflect what they would have wanted and are appropriate for the ceremony.


Most people choose traditional funeral hymns. However, people are increasingly choosing to play recorded music. If this is the choice then check that the venue you have chosen has the equipment needed to play the music you want.

You can find good examples of appropriate music for funerals at mfiles and the Church Music Site.

Here is a list of the top ten and more modern songs popular at funerals by artists such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. If you wish to use a personal favourite or modern piece you may have to pay a licence fee to the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and to the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) because of copyright. You can ask the vicar, priest or person performing the funeral about these costs.

Readings and poems

It is not compulsory to have a reading and there is no etiquette or rules about who should be a reader. However many funerals include readings of relevance to the life of the deceased. It does not have to be religious and could be anything from a page of a book to part of a play.

Writing your own words to say is a very personal goodbye and you can always get someone else to read it for you. If you don’t know what to choose but want to find something personal and appropriate you can find examples at Heavenly Doves.


If you decide to hold the funeral in a church it is usual to have at least one hymn. The vicar or priest can advise you on suitable hymns or you can choose one which the deceased person liked. If you have the funeral in a crematorium you can also have hymns.

Most churches have an organist who will be able to play the music but if this is not possible you can find hymn music to purchase on Amazon. You can find the words to hymns here.

If you would like a choir then you must speak to the vicar or priest in advance as many choir members have full time jobs which mean they can not attend during the week. There may also be a small charge for their attendance.


If you are having a religious funeral, then prayers will play a key role in the structure of the service. The priest or vicar can talk you through the prayers that you can expect to hear and you can usually request that specific prayers be inserted into the service. Look here for a selection of prayers and readings to help you decide which are most suitable for the funeral you are organising.