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Hitting the right note: Meet Swansea’s only ‘singing undertaker’

A Swansea funeral director is going the extra mile for bereaved families – using the power of music.



James Murray, Swansea's singing funeral director

Recognising the importance of music when it comes to saying goodbye, James Murray, Funeral Director at Co-op Funeralcare’s William Pressdee Funeralcare, started to sing for families at funerals during the pandemic.

James, a baritone, began singing more than two decades ago in his local church choir. When restrictions on funerals started due to Covid, he decided to make the most of his gifts and give local people the send-off they would have wanted, no matter the circumstances.


Despite the restrictions now being lifted, James still sings live versions of a variety of songs, mainly Welsh choral classics as well as hymns – which are now making a comeback, according to Co-op Funeralcare’s 2023 Funeral Music Chart. Both ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ have now reappeared in the UK top 10 funeral songs for the first time in seven years, respectively landing at number eight and nine – while nearly a quarter of Welsh funerals (22%) played hymns during the service.


The hot list, which first launched in 2002, is based on data and insights from Co-op’s own funeral directors, who conducted 93,000 funerals in the last year. It revealed that Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman’s ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, followed by Frank Sinatra’s iconic ‘My Way’, are the nation’s funeral songs of choice.

James said: “It’s wonderful to see hymns returning to the top 10 of the 2023 Funeral Music Chart for the first time in over seven years.  

“With Covid restrictions lifted, families are now able to hold larger, in-person funerals at places of worship, which is certainly an important factor. We’re also seeing a shift in attitudes, with more and more families wanting to celebrate life, and music is the perfect way to do so.  

“Although they were traditionally sung in churches, hymns are often the soundtrack for some important life moments, such as weddings, sporting occasions or even favourite films – which can help conjure up precious memories. That’s why I love doing what I do; being able to give someone the best possible send-off and supporting their loved ones throughout the process is absolutely priceless.” 

Most popular songs at Funerals

Overall Top 10

1Time To Say GoodbyeAndrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
2My WayFrank Sinatra
3Somewhere Over The RainbowEva Cassidy
4Supermarket FlowersEd Sheeran
5We’ll Meet AgainVera Lynn
6Wind Beneath My WingsBette Midler
7You’ll Never Walk AloneGerry & The Pacemakers
8Abide With MeWilliam Henry Monk & Henry Francis Lyte
9All Things Bright & BeautifulHymn
10Dancing In The SkyDannii & Lizzy

Rock Top 10

1Bat Out Of HellMeatloaf
2Wish You Were HerePink Floyd
3I Don’t Want to Miss a ThingAerosmith
4Stairway To HeavenLed Zeppelin
5We Will Rock YouQueen
6I Want To Live ForeverQueen
7You’re My Best FriendQueen
8Another One Bites the DustQueen
9Knockin’ on Heaven’s DoorGuns and Roses
10The BestTina Turner

Indie / Band Top 10

1Chasing CarsSnow Patrol
2Supermarket FlowersEd Sheeran
3Live ForeverOasis
5AngelsRobbie Williams
6Bittersweet SymphonyThe Verve
7Don’t Look Back In AngerOasis
8IrisGoogoo Dolls
9Stop Crying Your Heart OutOasis
10Everybody HurtsREM

Pop Top 10

1Supermarket FlowersEd Sheeran
2AngelsRobbie Williams
3Wind Beneath My WingsBette Midler
4The BestTina Turner
5You Raise Me UpWestlife
6Dancing QueenAbba
7Flying Without WingsWestlife
8My WayFrank Sinatra
9Somewhere Over the RainbowEva Cassidy
10AngelSarah McLachlan

Classical Top 10

1Time to Say GoodbyeAndrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
2NimrodEdward Elgar
3Ave MariaVarious
4Adagio in G MinorVarious
5Canon DPachabel
6Clare de LuneDebussy
7Nessun DormaVarious
8Pie JesuVarious
9The Lark AscendingVaughan Williams
10Gabriel’s OboeEnnio Morricone

Hymn / Traditional Top 10

1All things bright and beautifulTraditional
2The Lord is My ShepherdTraditional
3Abide With MeTraditional
4Amazing GraceTraditional
5How Great Thou ArtTraditional
7Morning Has BrokenTraditional
8The Old Rugged CrossTraditional
9Here I am LordTraditional
10The Day Thou Gavest Lord is EndedTraditional

R&B Top 10

1I’ll Be Missing YouP.Diddy
2Dance with my FatherLuther Vandross
3I Will Always Love YouWhitney Houston
4See You AgainCharlie Puth & Wiz Khalifa
5Footprints in the SandLeona Lewis
6It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to YesterdayBoyz II Men
8Let’s Stay TogetherAl Green
9End of the RoadBoyz II Men
10Lift Me UpRihanna

Country Top 10

1Take Me Home, Country RoadsJohn Denver
2I Will Always Love YouDolly Parton
3Islands in the StreamDolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
4Ring Of FireJohnny Cash
5How Do I LiveLeAnn Rimes
6When I Get Where I’m GoingBrad Paisley
7Welcome To My WorldJim Reeves
8There You’ll BeFaith Hill
9The GamblerKenny Rogers
10Need You NowLady A

TV / Soap Top 10

1Only Fools and HorsesTheme tune
2Match of the DayTheme tune
3Last of the Summer WineTheme tune
4Coronation StreetTheme tune
5Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python)Theme tune
6Test Match CricketTheme tune
7EmmerdaleTheme tune
8Vicar of DibleyTheme tune
9Morcambe & Wise – Bring me SunshineTheme tune
10One Foot in the GraveTheme tune

Movie Songs Top 10

1My Heart Will Go OnTitanic
2Wind Beneath My WingsBeaches
3Always Look on the Bright Side of LifeMonty Python’s Life of Brian
4I Will Always Love YouThe Bodyguard
5Circle of LifeThe Lion King
6You’ll Never Walk AloneCarousel
7Unchained MelodyGhost
8Somewhere Over the RainbowThe Wizard of Oz
9I Don’t Wanna Miss a ThingArmageddon
10Stand By Me, Ben E KingStand By Me

Sports Top 10

RankSongSport connection
1You’ll Never Walk Alone, Gerry and the PacemakersFootball – Liverpool FC
2Match of the Day theme songFootball
3The Chain, Fleetwood MacFormula 1
4Soul LimboCricket
5The Best, Tina TurnerFootball – Rangers
6I’m Forever Blowing BubblesFootball – West Ham
7Blue MoonFootball – Man City
8Old Faithful, Gene AutryFootball – Hull City
9Glory Glory Man UnitedFootball – Manchester United
10Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero), Mark KnopflerFootball – Newcastle United

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