Playing music at funerals is a tradition that spans across cultures and religions. For centuries, songs and hymns have played a key role in the funeral process. Through music, we find a common bond in our times of suffering and grief. Music brings us comfort and helps us lean into our emotions.
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Choosing songs that coincide with religious or spiritual viewpoints is important to many. If you are planning a funeral, virtual funeral service, or memorial slideshow, here are some faith-related songs to help set the tone.
There are many songs about death. It may seem hard to choose the most meaningful ones for your loved one’s service. Here are some religious songs that might resonate with your beliefs about death.
1. “Amazing Grace” by Charlotte Church
Originally written by John Newton in 1779.
2. “On Eagles Wings” by John Michael Talbot
Lyrics are from Psalm 91, Book of Exodus 19, and the Gospel of Matthew 13.
3. “Here I Am Lord” by Colin Raye
This Christian hymn was written by the American composer Dan Schutte in 1981.
4. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
The Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden wrote this song.
5. “Be Not Afraid” by Bob Dufford
A popular soothing Catholic hymn to ease fear and grief.
6. “Shelter Me, O God” by Bob Hurd
This is a song of hope in a time of turmoil. Based on Psalm 16, Psalm 61, and Luke 13:34.
7. “One Bread One Body” by John Michael Talbot
This hymn is often played during communion at a Catholic funeral mass.
8. “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” by Susan Boyle
A Christian Hymn of peace adapted from The Prayer of Saint Francis.
9. “Save a Place For Me” by Mathew West
This song conveys faith in Heaven after the loss of a loved one.
10. “What a Day That Will Be” by Jim Hill
Inspired by Revelation 21:4 “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
11. “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis
A story of death and the power of faith and grace.
12. “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe
This song evokes the hope and awe a person will feel when they meet God.
13. “How Great Thou Art” Piano Hymn
Adapted from the poem written by Carl Boberg into this traditional Swedish melody.
14. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph M. Scriven
A song of rejoicing in relief that Jesus will take your grief away.
15. “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill
A beautiful ballad about transitioning from life to Heaven.
16. “Abide With Me” by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte
Often sung by a chorus, this song brings comfort and guidance in times of loss.
17. “Nearer My God to Thee” by Sarah Fuller Flower
This Christian hymn was the last song played on the Titanic.
18. “Old Rugged Cross” by Alan Jackson
Written in 1912 by Evangelist and singer George Bennard. This song encourages rejoicing in the glory of God after death.
19. “When They Ring Those Golden Bells Sung” by Loretta Lynn
This religious hymn was written by Dion de Marbelle in 1916. It is about meeting Jesus and everlasting life after death.
20. “Goin’ Home” by William Arms Fisher
Inspired by African-American spirituals, this song refers to death as going home.
21. “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin
A song that imagines a person rising from the dead and transitioning to heaven like Jesus.
22. “Jealous of the Angels” by Donna Taggart
A song that expresses the sadness of a deep loss and the belief that the deceased is among the angels.
23. “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley
This song is about embracing Heaven and forgetting the sins of life.
24. “Heaven’s Now My Home” by Libby Allen
A comforting song to remind loved ones that after death we will be with God.
25. "The Lord Is My Shepherd" by Stuart Townend
Inspired by Psalm 23 in the King James Bible. It is a traditional hymnal in both Christian and Jewish ceremonies.
Overtly religious songs might not resonate with everyone. These secular funeral songs are spiritual and inclusive of all religions and faiths. Each of these songs attempts to explore a deeper understanding of the mystery of death.
26. “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
George Harrison wrote this song for the Hindu God Krishna. Its message can be applied to other Gods and secular belief in a higher power. You can check out our list of the best Beatles songs for a funeral if you'd like more from Harrison.
27. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
Leonard adapted the hymn “Hallelujah” into a secular version to explore love and loss.
28. “All That You Have Is Your Soul” by Tracy Chapman
This song suggests that within our bodies, we have everlasting souls.
29. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
A lullaby that tells us about a magical world waiting for us after death.
30. “The Lime Tree” by Trevor Hall
This song explores unwavering faith and love as we approach death.
31. “Something’s Calling Me” by Jami Lula
This song takes us on an emotional journey to explore the grace in suffering.
32. “Death With Dignity” by Sufjan Stevens
A song that explores the complexity and beauty of death.
33. “Time Love” by Josh Ritter
This song considers the concept that death is just a change of time, and may not be as finite as we think.
34. “Find The Light” by David Ramirez
A deceased person’s wish to the loved ones they are leaving behind. It encourages loved ones to find the light and not to mourn their loss too long.
35. “Only Hope” by Switchfoot
In this song, the singer explores a connection to the divine after a tragedy.
36. “Aloha Oe” Sung by Nani
This Hawaiian hymn was composed by Hawaiian Queen Lili'uokalani. The English translation is "Farewell To Thee."
37. “Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison
A classic tune that reminds us of our relationship to nature.
38. “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
This popular tune reminds us that we are never alone, even in times of darkness.
39. “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk
A bittersweet reflection of gratitude and appreciation for a loved one.
40. “Follow The Sun” by Xavier Rudd
A spiritual song about following nature and surrendering to the flow of life.
41. “When I Get Where I am Going” by Brad Paisley
This song represents leaving suffering behind and transitioning into the afterlife.
42. “From A Distance” by Bette Midler
This song depicts God protecting us from a distance, even in times of loss.
43. “Ten Thousand Angels Cried” by LeAnn Rimes
A song about how even angels mourn loss.
44. “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams Sr.
Life and death is said to be like moving from dark to light. This song talks about traveling happily towards the light.
45. “Way Over Yonder” by Carole King
A song of hope and faith that at the end of life there is a place for us.
46. “Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)” by Celine Dion
A reflection of a daughter's sadness after the loss of her mother. Her words 'Till we meet again…” imply hope that they will one day be together again.
47. Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
This song is a sweet duet that conveys the heartbreak and sadness of saying goodbye to someone you love.
48. "Pie Jesu" by Celtic Woman
The angelic voices of the Celtic Women make a soothing addition to a funeral. The lyrics in English are: “Merciful Jesus, Who takes away the sins of the world, Grant them rest, Everlasting, Rest.”
49. “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie
This song talks about trying to find peace with the knowledge that everyone dies.
50. “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
A song about finding comfort and peace in the arms of an angel.
There are so many songs that we can choose from to convey our love and faith. Whether you are planning your funeral playlist at a Christian funeral or a playlist for a loved one's celebration of life ceremony, we hope these songs bring you peace.