My (current) Top Ten Favourite Songs to Celebrate my Life

November 4, 2022
kermit playing banjo with dog
end of life planning
anticipate life
supporting others
Leanne Russell

My husband always jokes, semi-seriously, “You know what song I want played at my funeral, don’t you?” and I can legitimately say, ‘yes’. We also have it recorded in our Anticipate Life account, in case I forget. And why do I know which song? Because we have had THAT conversation. You know, the one where we describe exactly how we want our funeral, right down to our favourite funeral songs.

For me, the songs I choose have to be special in some way, beyond a good beat and some sentimental words. It has to help others connect the music to me in some way and hopefully, get their feet tapping too. We know that a funeral is often a sad time, but it is also an opportunity to laugh and remember the fun and happy times. Music has the power to move us and create a positive and uplifting mood, so picking the songs that do that for you, may be the best songs for your funeral.

Amazing Grace

Amazingly (or not) if you pardon the pun, ‘Amazing Grace’ is the most requested of traditional funeral songs. A Christian folk hymn, it was written by English poet and clergyman, John Newton, in 1772. According to the Dictionary of American Hymnology, ‘Amazing Grace’ is John Newton’s spiritual autobiography in verse.

A quick history lesson... Newton lost his mother at a young age. His father, a shipping merchant, was often absent. At 11 Years old, Newton joined his father as an apprentice on a ship. His disobedience and insolence on the merchant ship caused him to be forced into the Navy. He overstayed his shore leave too many times while visiting his girlfriend, Mary, and as a consequence, he was traded as crew to a slave ship. Newton worked on slave ships until he collapsed with a stroke at age 30, after which he began work as a customs agent/tax collector.

It was during this time that he taught himself Latin, Greek and theology and, with his wife, became passionately involved with the church community. It was the story of his experiences in the slave trade and conversion that impressed the Earl of Dartmouth, William Legge. The Earl sponsored Newton to be ordained as an Anglican priest and offered him his own parish in Olney, Buckinghamshire. There he met William Cowper, a gifted writer, and together, they wrote a volume of hymns for use at the services. Newton wrote ‘Amazing Grace’ in late 1772, originally called ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’ . It was published in the ‘Olney Hymns’ book in 1779 and used in services around the country.

Funerals today

Nowadays funerals can include any type of music - from religious hymns to folk songs, classical numbers like ‘Ave Maria’ by Schubert, to rock songs by Bon Jovi or AC/DC. Funerals are as unique as the person whose life you are they should be!

So we have taken a little time to ensure that our end of life is celebrated how we want it ...for me there are poems, who I want donations to go to in lieu of flowers. For hubby, it’s all about the food...and the after party!

It’s all there - in our Anticipate Life account...right down to the music!

Top Songs

So here are my top ten, ok eleven, funeral songs to play at my funeral life no order of preference.

Then there are also a number of incredible songs by Prince and David Bowie. ‘Forever Young’ by Rod Stewart is another great song. Or perhaps the ‘Dirty Dancing’ movie classic, ‘I’ve had the Time of my Life’ by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes is the perfect way to express gratitude for your time on this earth.

Whatever your preference for songs, you can use your Anticipate Life account to record all your end of life wishes, removing the stress of making those decisions from your loved ones.

What songs do you want played to celebrate your life?