If you are planning your own funeral, choosing a funeral song can be the ultimate way to leave mourners with a real sense of your personality, humor or sentiment. If you are planning the funeral of a loved one, the funeral song is an import part of the service that may accompany a multimedia montage or may be a nice way to finish proceedings by bringing the emotion to a fitting crescendo.
To help you choose the perfect song for the service you are arranging, we have come up with the ultimate list of funeral songs so that you can find one to best set the mood of the service and reflect the personality of the person whose life is being celebrated. We’ve broken them up into categories to make it easier to decide on a song to create the most meaningful farewell possible, and suggest that you may want to choose something sentimental or religious and end with something a little more light hearted, if it suits the person’s personality. When planning a funeral, your choice of music may be the thing that stays with mourners long after the service so it’s important to make sure the music you choose sets the right tone for the occasion.
Religious funeral songs
Songs of the faithful may bring great comfort in times of grief and for this reason these traditional hymns and religious songs are still popular for funeral services for all ages. Leading the list here is Amazing Grace, used frequently to celebrate the life of a loved one. Giving this song a modern twist is a beautiful rendition by Leanne Rimes. The Lord is my Shepherd also brings comfort to many through its reassuring familiarity and its deeply religions sentiment. Many different renditions of Hallelujah are a popular choice for religious comfort and George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord is a beautiful way to bring religion into the service in a less formal way, particularly popular with funerals for young adults. For traditionalists, Nearer My God to Thee is a popular choice, made famous as the final song to be played on HMS Titanic; while O Lord, Abide With Me gained popularity as a funeral hymn in the UK and is still popular in the US and Australia today.
Somber songs for a sad occasion
It is no surprise that people often choose sad or sentimental songs for funeral services, to accompany the outpouring of grief that allows the healing process to begin. Over the rainbow, sung by Eva Cassidy, is a beautiful song to play at a funeral, with a nod to a ‘better place’ it gives hope and comfort to mourners. Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To You is another real tearjerker with lyrics about how time passes and life goes on after the loved one is gone. Bette Middler’s Wind Beneath My Wings is a beautiful tribute to a loved one, especially someone known for their quietly supportive nature and Celine Dion’s Goodbye’s the Saddest Word is another popular choice with lyrics that echo the grief and loss the mourners feel.
Seeking comfort in the music
If you want mourners to feel comforted by the songs played at your or your loved one’s funeral, Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again is a good choice, especially for the funeral of an older person as it has wartime connotations and is a favourite with many of our grandparents. For someone younger, Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven is always a popular along with Westlife’s I’ll see you Again and Michael Jackson’s You Are Not Alone.
Local music favourites for funerals
Aussies have their own take on funeral song choices and there is nothing more patriotic than John Williamson’s True Blue as a familiar ballad for a final farewell. Slim Dusty’s Looking Forward, Looking Back is a popular choice for Australian dads while the eerie Sounds of Silence by The Disturbed is a rousing song full of sentiment and emotion.
Aussies also have a soft spot for the classic church hymn, The Old Rugged Cross which features weekly in funeral homes around the country. Other favourites for Australian funerals include The Prayer, by Celine Dion, I will always love you by Whitney Houston, Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up and the Elvis classic, Take Me Home, Precious Lord. Surprisingly, Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler is also chosen frequently for funerals in Australia.
Keeping it classical
You can’t go wrong with a beautiful timeless classic and as far as funeral songs go, Ave Maria, by Schubert is both rousing, comforting and just beautiful to listen to. Pie Jesu (Faure) and Nessum Dorma (Puccini) are gorgeous, emotional songs that somehow give mourners the space to contemplate in thoughtful remembrance, while Time to Say Goodbye (Brightman/Bocelli) is a gentle song to bring closure to a funeral service.
Most popular funeral songs
We’ve already mentioned a few of the most popular funeral songs but by far, one of the most requested songs, particularly for men’s funerals is My Way, by Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey. It is chosen several times a week here in Australia and gives mourners a sense that the lost loved one lived a good life the best way they knew how, which is a comforting sentiment at a funeral.
Robbie Williams’ Angels also sneaks into the most popular list and is suitable for any funeral for a person of any age. John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads is an oldie, but a goodie that puts a casual acoustic spin on the funeral song and is perfect to compliment some personalities.
Modern funeral songs
Each year several current songs emerge as popular funeral favourites and while often unlikely candidates, some just keep popping up at funerals. Greenday’s Good Riddance (Time of your life) is one such song that topped the charts and has continued to be a popular funeral choice ever since. The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony captures the essence of the human condition of love and loss, and this year in 2021, some of the lesser expected songs to pop up at funerals have actually been among the most popular – Cigarette Daydreams by Cage the Elephant, See you Again by Wiz Kalifa feat. Charlie Puth and Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flowers are all popular funeral choices this year.
Funny funeral songs
There’s one in every crowd and often your long lost uncle or work colleague might surprise you, showing a side of their personality that you had never before appreciated – songs like Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – can lighten a sad, solemn occasion while others, may bring a slight smile to mourner, purely by the irony of the occasion – Elton John’s I’m Still Standing, Bon Jovi’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and ACDC’s Highway to Hell fit this category and are a reminder that in death, as in life, we are all very different.
Other funny funeral song choice include Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, and Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from the Wizard of Oz. If your loved one loved everything inappropriate, edgy and just silly, you may want to consider songs like Willie Nelson’s Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Not Crying, By Flight of the Conchords or She’s a Zombie Now, by the Meteors. Of course these songs are definitely on the inappropriate side of the funeral songs list, but for some people, they may just provide the perfect sendoff.
If you are doubtful about your choice for music and songs for your loved one’s service, talk to your funeral director and ask for their suggestions. They will have prepared many funerals and might be able to suggest some tunes that you might not have otherwise considered.
The team at McCartney Family Funerals is available to help plan the perfect farewell for your loved one, whether you seek a traditional farewell or a bright, modern service. Call to speak with one of our funeral directors on 1300916102 for assistance with funerals and cremations right across south-east Queensland or visit the website at www.mccartneyfunerals.com.au for information, pricing and options.