Funerals are emotional events to plan, and choosing the music that represents all the feelings and messages you want to convey can be really tough. Finding those perfect songs shouldn't be overwhelming or stressful, and we want to help.
That's why we came up with this ultimate guide of the best songs to play at funerals, broken down by the categories which best represent the personality of your lost loved one.
Classical Funeral Songs
"The Lord is My Shepherd" - Paul Cardall
This classic hymn played by legendary pianist, Paul Cardal, makes a lovely tribute for any kind soul. When words can't possible describe the way you feel about a loved one you've lost, "The Lord is My Shepard" instrumental will convey every emotion you want it to.
"Mass, Op. 12: Panis Angelicus" - César Franck, Emanuele Vianelli
This classical melody will make a lovely funeral song for anyone close to you. Andrea Bocelli's rich voice is the perfect accompaniment to this mournful piece, which is sure to encapsulate all your feelings of reverence and loss for your loved one.
"Ave Maria, CG 89a" - Charles Gounod, Johann Sebastian Bach, Emanuele Vianelli
Andrea Bocelli's rendition of the classic song, "Ave Maria," makes a soulful addition to any funeral. There are both hopeful and forlorn undertones in this piece, which adds incredible depth. Sung in Latin, this version of the "Hail Mary" prayer allows listeners to focus on what the song emotes rather than the particular words being sung.
"Sancta Maria" - Pietro Mascagni, Emanuele Vianelli
This beautiful rendition of a classic song by Andrea Bocelli is another one of many that he included in his "Music for Hope" concert. The concert was created to offer solace to grieving families in Italy after the COVID-19 crisis. This song does just what it was meant to — it offers solace to those facing loss.
"Life and Death" - Paul Cardall
Paul Cardall's emotional song featuring slow piano music with mixed stringed instruments makes this the perfect song to accompany a video, or photo presentation of your loved one's life.
"Amazing Grace" - John Newton, Czech National Symphony Orchestra
"Amazing Grace" is truly the ultimate funeral song. Written in 1772 by English Navy man turned abolitionist and poet, John Newton, it is a song about forgiveness and redemption. This song makes a wonderful tribute for any lost loved one and brings comfort to those who survive them.
"Gloria the Gift of Life" - Andrea Bocelli
This soulful song about eternal love and the gift of life is an excellent choice for celebrating the life of a lover, especially if the one you lost was a woman. The lyrics are powerful and uplifting, which make it the perfect song to celebrate the life of the most important woman in your life.
"Appalachian Spring: VII. Doppio Movimento" - Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
This enchanting song is sure to bring warm, pleasant feelings, and what could be better than a song about the rebirth of nature? Copland often gets praise for capturing the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains in this piece, but don't let the "Appalachian" part of the song fool you, as he named it long after he wrote it (the original title was "Ballet for Martha").
"Emerald and Stone" - Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins, Leo Abrahams
This short piano piece has pleasant earthly sounds in the background, and would make a great funeral song for someone with no religious affiliation. This song is best played during transitions in the ceremony.
"Clair de Lune" - Claude Debussy
This timeless piece by Claude Debussy is one that you have definitely heard, even if you couldn't name it. He began composing it in 1890, but worked on it for 15 years before actually publishing it. His hard work paid off in this beautiful song that is sure to capture every loving sentiment you feel for a lost loved one.
"Song Book: The Man I Love" - George Gershwin and Frank Braley
This soulful piano melody is short and sweet. While no words accompany the piece, it still manages to convey an uplifting feeling and makes a great song to play as funeral guests enter or exit the building.
Contemporary funeral songs
"Heaven" - Beyoncé
This beautiful song by Beyoncé about losing someone close to you was inspired by her mother, Tina Knowles, who experienced the loss of her best friend. "Heaven" makes a touching tribute to anyone you loved, with the line, "Heaven couldn't wait for you, so go on go home," it's the perfect way to show your love and adoration of someone who recently passed.
"Golden Slumbers" - The Beatles
This classic Beatles song, featured on their Abbey Road album, shares a lovely message of peaceful rest. With the words, "Golden slumbers fill your eyes, smiles await you when you rise," this sends a lovely message of acceptance to your passed loved one that it's okay to rest now.
"Only One" - Kanye West, Paul McCartney
This beautiful song is sung by Kanye West, and has instrumentals by Paul McCartney. It was written as a tribute to Kanye's daughter North. Kanye has said that it's from the perspective of his late mother, Donda West. The lyrics, "You know I never left you, cause every road that leads to heaven's right inside you," share a wonderful sentiment that we will see our lost loved one again someday, and that they are watching over us.
"Lay Me Down" - Sam Smith
This heartbreaking song with breathtaking vocals by Sam Smith, makes a wonderful song to play at the funeral of a lover. Smith sings "You told me not to cry when you were gone, but the feelings overwhelming, its much too strong. Can I lay by your side?, Next to you, and make sure you're alright, I'll take care of you." It's sure to capture all feelings of love, loss and hope to see each other again.
"River" - Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges' beautiful, rich voice provides comfort in this hopeful song. He sings "In my darkness I remember, Momma's words reoccur to me, 'Surrender to the good Lord, and He'll wipe your slate clean." It's a song about missing someone close to you and redemption, and is sure to make a wonderful addition to any funeral of a loved one.
"Wild Horses" - The Rolling Stones
This classic, slow paced Rolling Stones song is the perfect song to capture the loss of any rebellious spirit. Sung by Mick Jagger, the words are heartfelt and uplifting — "Faith has been broken, tears must be cried, let's do some living, after we die." This makes the perfect reminder that even in death, your loved one lives on in your memories.
"Georgia on My Mind" - Ray Charles
Ray Charles' resonant voice sings a wonderful rendition of "Georgia On My Mind," which is originally by Willie Nelson. This song captures a lovely sentiment of someone always on your mind, even when you aren't near them and an "old sweet song" to remind you of them. This "old sweet song" is sure to do just that and makes a lovely song to include in any funeral for someone you cared deeply about.
"Guiding Light" - Mumford & Sons
This song about friendship and comfort makes a perfect song to play at the funeral of a dear friend, or family member who always supported you. This British band's unique and upbeat sound compliments the lyrics perfectly. They sing, "Cause even when there is no star in sight, you'll always be my only guiding light."
"Gone, Gone, Gone" - Philip Philips
This song by Phillip Phillips, shares a message of continuing to love someone even after they're gone. A wonderful sentiment to share about any lost loved one, "Gone, Gone, Gone" is a funeral song full of hope.
Uplifting and hopeful funeral songs
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" - Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
One of the most beautiful and hope filled songs of all time, this mashup of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World," sang by late Hawaiian native Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole, makes a perfect addition to any funeral. For any person who held a childlike sense of wonder and imagination throughout their life, this is the best song to play in their honor.
"Only Time" - Enya
"Only Time" is another song that you're sure to recognize, even if you never knew it's name. Popular for its use in movie soundtracks, this melodic song by Enya is sure to make an uplifting addition to any funeral.
"Going Home" - Mary Fahl
This Irish-sounding ballad by Mary Fahl, is the perfect hopeful song to play in remembrance of a loved one. Fahl sings, "Surely sorrows shall find their end, and all our troubles will be gone, and I know what I've lost, and all that I've won, when the road finally takes me home." These sanguine lyrics send a message of hope for brighter days ahead.
"Hallelujah" - Tori Kelly
Tori Kelly's version of this classic song speaks for itself. Her warm voice combined with the beautiful lyrics compliment each other wonderfully, and are sure to honor your loved one.
"Home" - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
This upbeat song about two people in love, whose home is wherever they are together, is a great song to play at a funeral for a significant other. The lyrics allow the listeners to focus on a celebration of a full life, rather than the weight of the loss felt.
"As I Lay Me Down" - Sophie B. Hawkins
This is another song you may have heard in a movie soundtrack before. Sophie Hawkins sings, "As I lay me down to sleep, this I pray, that you will hold me dear, though I'm far away, I'll whisper your name into the sky, and I will wake up happy!" "'Bye Bye' - Mariah Carey
"Bye Bye" - Mariah Carey
This song sort of has it all, as it's set to the rhythm of a piano and an electronic sound, and features the singing of Mariah Carey.
"Don’t Think Twice, it’s All Right" - Bob Dylan
Any song by Bob Dylan is a bit slow, with lyrics that are well thought out. Listeners are sure to zone out and think of their lost loved one when this song is playing. It's also a good song for a video presentation.
"When I Get Where I’m Going" - Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton
This country song features two of the best voices to ever grace western swing — Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton. Because their duet is potent and beautiful, this song comes equipped with feelings of hope.
"One Sweet Day" - Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey are a fusion of vocals that really have no comparison. Bringing that together, and combining it with lyrics such as, "And I know eventually we'll be together, one sweet day," will likely leave one smiling throughout.
"Warm Blindness & a Cool Breeze" - Calvin Love
Calvin Loves' "Warm Blindness & a Cool Breeze," has a young sound to it, and manages to put a positive attitude on a lot of confusing feelings.
"You Can Close Your Eyes" - James Taylor
James Taylor is a master at the slow-and-steady flow, and "You Can Close Your Eyes," is a perfect example. For old souls, and lovers of folk, this is a great song to say "goodbye."
Reflective funeral songs
"I Will Remember You" - Sarah McLachlan
"I Will Remember You," is one of Sarah McLachlan's most famous songs. The slow beat paired with her voice make it perfect for reflection, and is a good song for a video or photo presentation.
"And so it Goes" - Billy Joel
This Billy Joel classic has the feel of an old Irish pub song, with slow measured lyrics and a rhythmic piano.
"Rivers and Roads" - The Head and the Heart
"Rivers and Roads" is a song of highs and lows. At moments the beautiful duet is slow and measured, and at other times the notes are hit hard, making the listener feel the sting of the person they're missing.
"If Only" - Andrea Bocelli & Dua Lipa
The tenor Andrea Bocelli always pairs nicely with a soprano style female singer, and in this case Dua Lipa hits some major high notes. Bocelli's lyrics are in Italian, while Dua Lipa's are in English, making it a beautiful song to feel, rather than listen to all of the words.
"Nightingale" - Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato doesn't hold back in this explosive song. This song is best for the loss of a strong woman or young lady, and it's reflective because of the energy it's sure to impart.
"Gravity" - Sara Bareilles
"Gravity" also features a strong female singer in Sara Bareilles, but this song is far more paced and measured than many of the previous songs in this section. The soft, yet powerful flow of this song is great for reflection.
"Yesterday" - The Beatles
"Yesterday" is a Beatles classic, and it's central message make it a very powerful song to be played during a funeral ceremony. Reflective by it's very nature, it's the ultimate song for reaching into the past and pulling out feelings we don't want to let go of.
"Hello" - Adele
The lyrics in Adele's "Hello" make it sound a lot like she's speaking to someone she's lost. Lyrics aside, Adele's voice powers the engine in this song, and listeners are often in awe by the notes she hits.
"Jealous" - Labrinth
This song by Labrinth is indeed a lovely song about loss, and manages to capture that feeling in a unique way. Just be careful here, as Labrinth references a lover he lost to someone else.
Celebratory funeral songs
"What a Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong's voice feels like a ray of sunshine in this absolute classic. It's a fantastic song for celebrating the life of a lost loved one.
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" is probably one of the greatest songs ever. The song is ideal for West Virginians, but it's such a hope-filled, lovely song that "country roads" could lead you anywhere, especially home.
"I’ll See You Again" - Westlife
"I'll See You Again" makes a great song for celebrations in it's measured, rising sound. By the end you'll be clapping along, and it's a great song for groups to sing along to.
"Down by the River" - Milky Chance
Milky Chance has a very unique voice, making it difficult at times to follow along with the lyrics. However, the upbeat sound is what shines through in "Down by the River," making it ideal for celebrations.
"Reelin' in the Years" - Steely Dan
If your lost loved one was a lover of 70s rock, then Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years," is a great song to honor them. This song is all upbeat, and great for a celebration of life.
"Free Bird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
This Lynyrd Skynyrd classic is for those who had a little bit (or a lot) of a wild side. The song is so good, you might find some heads moving to the beat during the guitar solo.
Loss of a Parent funeral songs
"Dance with My Father" - Luther Vandross
As the song implies, Luther Vandross' lyrics are about dancing with his father one last time. This song is beautiful and uplifting, and a good fit for those who lost their father.
"In the Arms of an Angel" - Sarah McLachlan
This Sarah McLachlan gem is sure to not leave a dry eye in the house. It's sadness is equaled by it's beauty, and will have you believing your loved one is in a better place.
"Days Like This" - Van Morrison
This Van Morrison song may not have been released until 1995, but it captures an idea from older songs. Just like when The Shirelles sang about it in 1961, Van Morrison puts a positive spin on it with melodic, upbeat music.
"Wind Beneath My Wings" - Bette Midler
Bette Midler's beautiful song, "Wind Beneath My Wings," is a great way to honor a parent that you hold in high regard.
"I’ll Be Seeing You" - Billie Holiday
Originally released in 1944, this Billie Holiday classic is a great song for a lover of old time music. It also captures the feeling of seeing someone you lost in all the places you use to visit together.
"Tears in Heaven" - Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is largely considered one of the top three greatest guitarists of all time. His secrets are simple notes paired with smooth, basic sounds, and no song by Clapton takes that approach better than "Tears in Heaven."
Loss of a young person or child funeral songs
"If I Die Young" - The Band Perry
There is nothing more tragic about losing a child, or seeing a youthful soul parish, and just like all other feelings, this feeling has been captured by music. "If I Die Young" is a pretty song with several stringed instruments (including a mandolin), and achieves a sort of serenity, as it's sang from the perspective of the departed.
"Dance with My Daughter" - Jason Blaine
As the title of the song implies, this song is well suited for the loss of a young girl. The song itself isn't about loss, but rather, Jason Blaine's longing to be with his daughter.
"Blackbird" - The Beatles
"Blackbird" is a Beatles classic, and is a wonderful song to include in any funeral ceremony. This Paul McCartney solo also has hints of support to the civil rights movement.
"Jealous of the Angels" - Donna Taggart
Donna Taggart's beautiful, soft voice is paired with a piano in "Jealous of the Angels," as this tear jerker is bound to leave some folks reaching for tissues. Of course, the central message is one of hope, that the deceased is now in a better place.
"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" - John Lennon
As the title of this song reveals, this song is best played for a young boy. John Lennon's message of love was never more prevalent than in this uplifting song that has the ability to create smiles through the tears.
"Who You’d be Today" - Kenny Chesney
This Kenny Chesney song captures a feeling often felt when we lose a young loved one — wondering what they'd be like today? Kenny Chesney is a country singer, but this song is fit for fans of all types of music.
Religious funeral songs
"Heaven was Needing a Hero" - Jo Dee Messina
This beautiful song is often played at ceremonies for fallen soldiers. This song is especially appropriate for anyone who took up arms to protect their country, and those they loved, or was a part of a fight for the betterment of mankind.
"Go Rest High on that Mountain" - Vince Gill
"Go Rest High on That Mountain" is similar in its message to that of "Heaven was Needing a Hero," except this has a more country, bluegrass type of feel. Reserved for special individuals, this song is a great way to honor a loved one.
"Sing Me to Heaven" - Bradley Walker
Bradely Walker's "Sing me to Heaven" has an old school, country feel, complete with a fiddler and slide guitar. Walker says "Call me old-fashioned," making this a great song for someone who had some years under their belt before they passed.
"Dancing in the Sky" - Dani and Lizzy
"Dancing in the Sky" is a perfect religious song that really captures the mood of the moment. While your lost loved one is in heaven, this song sings about the emptiness here on earth, in the absence of that special person.
"Holes in the Floor of Heaven" - Steve Wariner
"Holes in the Floor of Heaven" is a beautiful song with a lovely message. For those who lost a loved one too early, this song sings of the significant moments in a person's life, and how they can be shared with lost loved ones because of the holes in heaven's floor.
Loss of a significant other funeral songs
"You are the Best Thing" - Ray LaMontagne
If it's putting a smile on the faces of those at the ceremony that you're trying to achieve, then "You Are the Best Thing" is a guarantee. "You are the best thing that ever happened to me," frames the song, and speaks to the fact that this song is meant to honor the loss of a significant other.
"Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)" - Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac
This beautiful, slow acoustic song is great for saying "goodbye." "Fare Thee Well!" is sung throughout, and given that it came from a Coen brothers movie, it's only fitting that it has undertones of bluegrass.
"If it’s the Beaches" - The Avett Brothers
While "If It's the Beaches" is a sad song about a breakup, it still works for funerals because of the lengths the singer will go to get his lover back. To mountains and beaches, the literal ends of the world, is a perfect metaphor for someone close being just out of reach.
"First Day of My Life" - Bright Eyes
"First Day of My Life" is a soft song that's heavy on the acoustic guitar. The song's title is a nice thought, and perfect for those believing death is just beginning of another journey.
"Unforgettable" - Natalie Cole
"Unforgettable" is a Nat King Cole classic, and with the addition of Natalie Cole, it's a borderline masterpiece. This song is generally played for women, but with the addition of Cole's daughter, it's fit for any significant other.
"Perfect Symphony " - Ed Sheeran & Andrea Bocelli
This song would be the 1950s equivalent of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley teaming up. Ed Shereen's "Perfect Symphony," will bring tears to anyone's eyes who's mourning the loss of a significant other, and with the addition of Andre Bocelli, there won't be a dry eye in the house.
"Home" - Philip Philips
This song is an absolute gem for funerals, if you want people smiling with hope in their hearts while they cry about the passing of a loved one. If "home" is a happy memory, then there's no substitute for the feeling Phillip Phillips puts into the chorus of this song.
"Save a Place for Me" - Matthew West
Matthew West was inspired to write this song after his 86-year-old grandma had a stroke. He got the idea for the song from Billy Graham, who said, after his wife's passing, "I know God has prepared a home for her in Heaven. I just hope she saves a room for me."
"Like You’ll Never See Me Again" - Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys absolutely whales in this song about losing a significant other, and you're guaranteed to have a room full of people feeling her pain, as she hits notes that very few people can mimic.
"I Don’t Know What Love Is" - Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
Lady Gaga's voice shines through in this happy song from the movie, "A Star is Born." The song is indeed a happy one, but coming from a movie that depicts a tragic love story, this song is best for producing smiles and tears while mourning the loss of a significant other.
"Ain’t No Sunshine" - Bill Withers
This Bill Withers gem is a great song on it's own, and as the lyrics reveal, this song is about losing a woman. Withers doesn't hold back on feeling, or "soul," in this song, allowing listeners to share his pain when the sunshine is gone.