Weltliche Musik auf christlichen Bestattungen. Eine bundesweite, überkonfessionelle Erhebung unter Pfarrern und Kirchenmusikern
Secular Music at Christian Funerals. A Germany-Wide, Interdenominational Survey Among Pastors and Church Musicians

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Carina Lasch Lind
Christoph Louven


When planning a funeral service, pastors and church musicians often find themselves in conflict between the requirements of liturgical and church music tradition and the musical wishes of the bereaved from the 'secular', mostly popular music. With the cooperation of the Protestant churches and Catholic dioceses, 1,875 pastors and church musicians were surveyed in a quantitative online study throughout Germany about what music is played at Christian funeral services, what significance secular music has in this context, and how this is assessed and experienced by the clergy and church musicians involved. Our study is the largest survey on the subject to date. The results show that, on average, secular music is played at about one third of Christian funerals. The music is largely derived from popular styles, but the specific choice is characterized by great individuality. The total of 3,562 titles shows an enormous range that cannot be reduced to a hit list. The respondents from all professional groups and denominations perceive secular music as a problem in this context. There is a conflict between a) the secular musical wishes of the bereaved, who have little church affinity, b) the musical-aesthetic claims of the church musicians, who clearly reject the playing of recordings, but who themselves often have little expertise in popular music, and c) the fundamental demand of the pastors that a Christian funeral service must be oriented to the individual wishes of the bereaved, but must not lose sight of the content of the Christian faith within the framework of the proclamation mandate.

popular music; funeral; funeral service; funeral music; church musicians; funeral hits; online questionnaire; church music

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