Popular Funeral Songs to Honor a Loved One

Music is one of humankind’s most powerful forms of expression. Songs accompany the most significant moments of our lives, especially when we come together to recognize shared emotions, identities or experiences. We play music when we celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings. Funerals are no exception.

Funeral songs celebrate the life of the person who has passed away. They express our feelings and beliefs about the deceased and our relationships with them. They also help us to grieve and process the loss while finding comfort and hope in a season of mourning.

This article will explore the place of music in a dignified funeral for your loved one and share some tips to guide your song selection, including examples of popular funeral songs for you to consider.

7 Tips for Choosing the Right Funeral Song

Every funeral is unique, so there’s no single recipe for the right song choice. However, some useful tips can guide a meaningful song selection for any funeral:

  1. Song or songs: You may imagine one main funeral song to play at the beginning of the service and possibly repeat at the end. But many funerals have multiple songs. You could have different songs upon entering, concluding the service and during it, such as after the eulogy. Depending on the length and style of the memorial, you could have an entire playlist of background music.
  2. Culture: Most cultures have distinctive funeral traditions, which may extend to music. Traditional songs or instruments could help celebrate the cultural background of the deceased and their family.
  3. Language: There are many standout celebration of life songs in English. However, if the deceased had a home language other than English, it could be meaningful to incorporate a song in that language.
  4. Belief: People have diverse religious and non-religious views about death. These beliefs can influence how we celebrate life and grieve loss. Respect for the deceased’s beliefs and the family’s may influence your song selection.
  5. Lyrics: If you choose a song with lyrics, the words canmake a poetic statement about the deceased and what their life and passing mean to you. Subject matters could include death and the afterlife, special characteristics of the person or fond memories. You could also consider an instrumental song that makes a powerful statement without words.
  6. Melody, harmony and rhythm: Beyond the lyrics, these musical elements shape a song’s mood. For example, you could choose a slow lament in a minor key or a lively major-key ode, depending on the tone you want to create.
  7. The deceased’s tastes: If the deceased expressed a wish to have a certain song played at their funeral, or has a favorite genre of music, you can use that to guide your song selection.

Once you’ve thought about these tips, you may already have a good idea of the song or songs you’d like to choose. If you need more inspiration or would like a broader sense of your options, the next section will give you some ideas.

Popular Funeral Songs Across Genres

Here are some examples of popular funeral songs from various genres that you could play to honor your loved one.

10 Classic Funeral Songs

These are 10 classic funeral song choices that have offered enduring comfort and solace to many grieving relatives:

  1. “Amazing Grace” by John Newton
  2. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
  3. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
  4. “How Great Thou Art” by Carl Boberb and Stuart K. Hine
  5. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
  6. “Over the Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy
  7. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
  8. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
  9. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
  10. “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

10 Modern Funeral Songs

These are 10 more modern funeral songs that resonate with families and friends:

  1. “Funeral” by Lukas Graham
  2. “Heaven” by Beyonce
  3. “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans
  4. “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith
  5. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
  6. “One Sweet Day” by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey
  7. “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran
  8. “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
  9. “When September Ends” by Green Day
  10. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

10 Instrumental Funeral Songs

Music can convey meaning beyond what words can express. These 10 instrumental options express unspeakable grief of loss and gratitude for life:

10 Instrumental Funeral Songs

  1. “Adagietto (Symphony No. 5)” by Gustav Mahler
  2. “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber
  3. “Air on a G String” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  4. “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis
  5. “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel
  6. “Come, Sweet Death” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  7. “Hope” by Neil Patton
  8. “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven
  9. “Scandinavia” by Van Morrison
  10. “The Shire Theme” by Howard Shore

10 Joyful Funeral Songs

Celebrate your loved one’s vibrant life with one of these 10 songs that express joy and hope:

  1. “All the Way” by Frank Sinatra
  2. “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
  3. “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
  4. “On That Day” by CityAlight
  5. “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley
  6. “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder
  7. “Spirit in The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
  8. “Time of Your Life” by Green Day
  9. “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by Sandra McCracken
  10. “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor

Remembering and Healing Through Music

Music has accompanied journeys of grief and solace for families since time immemorial. Parents, like New Yorker writer Matthew Schipper, have processed the loss of their children through the sounds of metal, punk, folk, jazz and R&B. For Schipper, Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” evoked both unbearable pain and potential healing.

A childhood bereavement charity writer shared how Lene Marlin’s “A Place Nearby” helped them acknowledge their sadness while holding onto hope after losing their father. The words of the song are inscribed on his tombstone. He made his living from music as a sound engineer, and music helped his child continue living with gratitude for his life after he passed away.

Journalist Robert Crowley lost his wife Julie to Alzheimer’s. He responded by recording an album in her memory and donating all proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society. The album includes a cover of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

A funeral is the ceremonial beginning of the journey we embark on after a loved one passes away. Music can help us heal and pay tribute to the deceased. Choosing meaningful funeral music is a comforting way for all in attendance to start this journey together.

Planning Your Musical Tribute With Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home

Planning Your Musical Tribute With Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home

At Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home, we recognize the relationship between music and healthy, hopeful mourning. That’s why we help you choose the best funeral songs to honor the distinctive person whose life you’re celebrating.

We support families in the Bronx with personalized funeral services to ensure a dignified tribute to your loved one.

Each person’s life is unique and precious. We’re here to help you create a special celebration of life that honors the deceased and offers closure for family and friends. That includes support in selecting the songs you want and arranging to play them when and how you want during this meaningful service.

You select every detail. We supply all you need and offer guidance where you need it.

For more information, Contact Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home with your questions or requests. We provide all the help you need to feel supported and secure as you plan your loved one’s funeral.