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Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 09:28 UK
Songs to say goodbye

Jade Goody's funeral
Well-wishers listened to a gospel choir as they waited for the procession to arrive for Jade Goody's funeral

Jade Goody's funeral was unlike most, taking place as it did in the media spotlight and attended by thousands of well-wishers.

But the service itself showed similarities to many others, with readings and songs specially chosen to reflect the character of the deceased.

The reality TV star's funeral included Ooh Child by The Five Stairsteps and Jenny Don't Be Hasty by Paolo Nutini - as well as the more conventional favourite hymn, The Old Rugged Cross.

Those choices reflect a survey carried out by the Co-operative Funeralcare, which found that tastes in funeral music have shifted recently.

Although Frank Sinatra's classic My Way still tops the list as the most played funeral anthem, contemporary music, television theme tunes and recent chart hits are increasing in popularity.

Newcomers such as X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke's version of Hallelujah and Westlife's You Raise Me Up figure on the list.

Hymns are the sufferers as this fondness for contemporary hits continues: The choice of hymns is down 6% in four years.

Funeral from BBC's Eastenders
My Way - Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler/Celine Dion
Time To Say Goodbye - Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
Angels - Robbie Williams
Over The Rainbow - Eva Cassidy
You Raise Me Up - Westlife/Boyzone/Josh Grobin
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion
I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry and the Pacemakers
Unforgettable - Nat King Cole

As Lorinda Sheasby, from Co-operative Funeralcare, says, the findings show that people do not feel restricted to traditional funeral music, but set the tone of the service to reflect the life of their loved one, choosing even football anthems and television theme tunes.

"We have seen an increase in popularity in contemporary tunes. Hymns are still important to a lot of families who come to arrange funerals," she says.

"Quite often you'll find at a funeral a couple of tunes played and sometimes it might be one hymn and a contemporary tune as well.

"A lot of families are telling us that they are mourning a loss but would like to celebrate a life as well. Funerals are very individual things, and families are asking for a funeral service that reflects the life of an individual."

Ministers tend to be accommodating and try to do what the families of the deceased want, she explains, even if that does include the theme tune to Coronation Street.

"Having said that, if a tune is legal, and it's decent and it's available, generally speaking we as funeral directors and the clergy will accommodate a family."

Sometimes churches, though, frown on certain choices - one in every 10 requests for pieces of music was rejected by clergy conducting the service.

BBC 6 Music presenter Chris Hawkins says people want a meaningful, poignant, powerful moment but occasionally choices reflect the fact they want "one last laugh".

And he says that the music can help mourners to smile in what is a difficult time.

"One listener said her stern and scary ex-headmistress said goodbye to Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead. There was also AC/DC's Highway To Hell," he says.

Ms Sheasby agrees and says that amid the requests for television theme tunes and contemporary songs "one of the most unusual we've had recently is for the Radio 4 shipping forecast".

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