A few words might come to mind when you hear a true gospel song: ambient, joyful, soulful. The rhythmic tones and vibrant voices tend to lift the spirits and hearts of those who listen.
Gospel music has blessed hearts since the early 19th century — it originated in African-American churches in the South. Contemporary Christians wanted more relatable, secular music, and gospel developed as an upbeat call-and-response form of worship.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Black and Southern Gospel Funeral Songs
- Best Upbeat Gospel Funeral Songs
- Best Sad Gospel Funeral Songs
Gospel music can remind you of the power and presence of faith in difficult times. You might consider adding some of these songs to your playlist if you’re planning a funeral. For more funeral planning tips and a complete list of tasks that need to be taken care of after a death, review our post-loss checklist.
COVID-19 tip: If you're hosting a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, make sure to test your audio beforehand so online and in-person guests can enjoy the songs together during the service.
For centuries, traditional African cultures have viewed death as a celebration. They honor it as a natural transition and approach it with ceremony and song.
The dominant vocals and harmony of gospel music is a transformative experience. These songs and hymns approach death with joy and deep understanding.
Be sure to add each of the songs to a digital playlist and share the link with the funeral director. We recommend getting a premium streaming service so you can skip the ads, like Spotify Premium.
1. “When We All Get To Heaven” by Richard Smallwood
“When We All Get To Heaven” is a popular song that evokes passion and offers peace in the wonders of Jesus and Heaven.
2. “If I Don’t Wake Up” by The Williams Brothers
This song rejoices in the acceptance of death and the belief that a resting place awaits in the sky.
3. “I Want To See Jesus” by The Angelic Gospel Singers
This soulful tune speaks to the longing and gratitude for Jesus and heaven.
4. “I’m Going Away” by Walter Hawkins
This is a peaceful song about going to a place of rest.
5. “Amazing Grace” Sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir
This version of “Amazing Grace” is breathtaking. It can be the perfect addition to a funeral.
6. “Take Me To The King” by Tamela Mann and Kirk Franklin
A song of struggling faith, “Take Me To The King” explores the idea that we all meet Jesus upon death.
7. “God Is Here” by Karen Clark Sheard
This sweet song encourages us to lay down our burdens and rest in the sanctuary of God. It references a sweet, anointing stillness in death.
8. “Marvelous” by Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir
This is a sweet ballad of gratitude. It can remind us how blessed we are to be born and die (or set free, as the song indicates).
9. “Down To The River To Pray,” sung by Alison Krauss
This African-American spiritual hymn is a song of baptism. The song invites the spirit of the community in prayer.
10. “Wholy Holy” by Aretha Franklin
Written by Marvin Gaye, this song reminds us to join together in times of sadness and grief.
11. “Walk Around Heaven” by Patti LaBelle
There are many popular covers of this song and the exquisite joy felt when a loved one enters heaven.
12. “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” sung by Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount
A popular gospel hymn written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin, this is a vocal masterpiece about Jesus watching over each of us.
13. “Jesus Promised Me A Home Over There” by Jennifer Hudson
The soothing vocals and piano remind us that there is a place for each of us after death.
14. “What A Day That Will Be” by Southern Raised
The string instruments in this song calm the heart and ease the spirit.
15. “My Everything” by Richard Smallwood
This song will bring any congregation to its feet. The voices of the choir remind us we are never alone in spirit.
Want to shift energy from mourning to celebration? Give these songs a try and see what you think.
16. “Bye and Bye” by The Georgia Mass Choir
This joy-filled song will have you tapping your foot.
17. “I’ll Fly Away” by Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir
This song embraces a home in the sky with Jesus and that death is freedom.
18. “On The Other Side” by The Walls Group
This is an upbeat song that reminds us that everything will be okay and that we have a home “on the other side.”
19. “I’m Going Up” by Bishop Larry Trotter and Sweet Holy Spirit
This high-energy song will lift your spirit in seconds to these words: "When I get there, I'm going to shout "Hallelujah."
20. “Gospel Ship” by The Carter Family
A country gospel song about leaving the world, this song illustrates shouting in happiness at the time of death.
21. "Is My Living In Vain" by The Clark Sisters
This song is about the path of eternal gain after death.
22. “My Soul Is Anchored” by Douglas Miller
This song is a true celebration and confidence in the continuation of the soul.
23. “Soon and Very Soon” by Andrae Crouch
This song builds in vocals and piano and encourages you to stop crying and find peace with death.
24. “I’m Free” by Reverend Milton Brunson
This song can lift your spirit and rejoices in the idea that death is freedom.
25. “Step Aside” by Yolanda Adams
Strong vocals speak to miracles and the power of the Lord.
26. “Trust Me” by Richard Smallwood and Vision
This song is about having faith in someone else to help you through difficult times.
27. “Goin Up Yonder” by Walter Hawkins and Tramaine Hawkins
This joy-filled song refers to death as goin' yonder to heaven.
28. “It Is Well” by Joe Pace, H.B. Charles, Jr. and The Shiloh Church Choir
This song is about soul and the connection to the natural process of life and death.
29. “Incredible God, Incredible Praise” by Youthful Praise
This song speaks of the incredible mystery of life and death and makes you want to clap and sing along.
30. “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” Sung by Eric Clapton
This comforting song has a gentle rhythm and sweet vocals.
Shedding tears in our grief is healthy and it provides a physical release. Sad music can be an invitation to invite emotions without becoming consumed by them.
31. “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
This song is a wish for our loved ones to watch over us. It's a prayer of guidance of grace in a time of sorrow.
32. “All We Ask” by Donnie McClurkin
This angelic song evokes soulful emotion and tears of gratitude.
33. “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful
This piano ballad is a cry for support and love during a painful time.
34. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Change is a powerful thing. This song speaks to an impending change of heart.
35. “God Held Me” by Zacardi Cortez
This song that reminisces about the struggles and hard times faced with loved ones. It's a story of despair and finding God in the end.
36. “I Almost Let Go” by Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers
This chorus-led song is about feeling like letting go. It's a reminder that a miracle awaits on the other side of pain.
37. “Still” by Hillsong Worship
In times of sadness, this song invites us to trust in the quiet of God.
38. “For Your Glory” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard
This is a soul-stirring song about the glory of God and an afterlife.
39. “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin
This song reminds you that healing often occurs in the stillness — and that the Lord will see you through.
40. “I’m Blessed,” by Montage Pheloan
This song likens death to walking into our destiny. It says that everyone is blessed no matter what.
41. “Oh Death” by Ralph Stanley
This song is a chilling a cappella song about trying to escape death to live another day.
42. “Angel From Montgomery” sung by Bonnie Raitt
Written by John Prine in 1971, this song talks about the hard road of living and the desire to be an angel.
43. “Do Not Pass Me By” by Nothin’ Fancy
This beautiful a cappella hymn is about a savior calling someone home at the time of death.
44. “I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)” by The Cox Family
This country tune is about saying good-bye to loved ones. The time to rest has come and “slumber deeply,” as the song suggests.
45. “Same Sad Song” by Smokie Norful
This song is about wanting to remove the sadness and misery of loved ones who are grieving.
46. “It’s Not Over (When God Is In It)” by Israel and New Breed, James Fortune, Jason Nelson
This heartfelt song brings the message that the ending is only the beginning.
47. “Nearer My God to Thee” by Mighty Clouds of Joy
This gospel hymn favorite brings many crowds to tears. It's a reminder of the healing power of tears and the grace that follows.
48. “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” by Thomas A. Dorsey
A well-known gospel song that has been covered by many famous singers, this was one of the funeral songs performed at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral.
49. “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” by The Carters
This is a song about the difficulty of loss in an immediate family and the effects it can have.
50. “Heaven Song” by Phil Wickham
This contemporary gospel favorite sings about the restlessness of wanting to join the angels in heaven.