Choosing the right music and songs for your loved one’s funeral will personalise the service and truly pay tribute to their life in a lasting way. We have created a list of the most popular funeral songs to help you decide what music to play at a funeral; from classical funeral music to modern day pop songs.
This guide covers:
- Popular funeral songs
- Classical funeral music
- Modern funeral songs
- Funeral music ideas
- Funeral songs for mum
- Funeral songs for dad
- Funeral songs for nan
- Funeral songs for grandad
- Uplifting funeral songs
- Things to consider when choosing funeral music
When arranging a funeral, you have full control over what music you’d like to play. You may prefer uplifting and happy funeral songs, or maybe some classical funeral music.
As funerals become more tailored to reflect the life of the person who has sadly passed away, families are opting for modern songs to be played at the service.
Here are some of the most popular funeral songs:
- My Way – Frank Sinatra
- Angels – Robbie Williams
- The Best – Tina Turner
- Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle (Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’)
- Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
- You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers
Classical music remains a popular choice for funerals, setting the stage for an emotional and moving service. Many people opt for light classical music for funerals, whilst others may prefer a more dramatic piece which reflects the personality of their loved one.
Some of the most popular classical music for funerals include:
- Canon in D – Paachelbel
- Nimrod from Enigma Variations – Elgar
- The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
- Ave Maria – Schubert
- Pie Jesu – Fauré
- Adagio – Albinoni
- Air on a G String – Bach
Your loved one’s funeral song can be anything of your choice, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a popular or classic song. The funeral music should reflect the way they lived their life or a song that may have been special to them. Here are a few modern funeral songs that you may want to consider.
Some of the most modern songs for funerals include:
- Halo – Beyonce
- Wonderwall – Oasis
- Someone like you – Adele
- When September Ends – Green Day
- I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans
- Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi
- Lay Me Down – Sam Smith
If you’re not sure which songs to play at a funeral service, take a look at the suggestions below. If you would prefer contemporary and uplifting funeral music or beautiful, classical music for a funeral, choose your favourite from our list.
Frank Sinatra is a show business legend and considered by many to be the greatest vocalist of the 20th century. His groundbreaking phrasing vocal technique helped the listener to understand and empathise with this song. My Way would be an obvious musical choice to remember those that in life were charismatic and individual.
Angels is the song that made Robbie a household name and has become a popular choice for funeral services. Its emotive music and reflective lyrics strike a chord with many listeners.
The song that marked Tina Turner’s comeback to the music scene has become a popular choice at funeral services. Equally adept at gospel, R&B and soul, Tina Turner’s iconic voice and emotional delivery makes this a good choice to remember someone who was special to you.
Wind Beneath My Wings
Wind Beneath My Wings was performed by Bette Midler for the soundtrack of the film Beaches, and was named Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1990. It has become one of the most popular funeral songs as a way to remember a loved one.
Time To Say Goodbye
A soaring and sweet duet between the world-famous tenor and soprano. The popularisation of opera has seen this musical piece become a regular choice at funerals for those that have lost a romantic partner.
Can’t Help Falling In Love
The most popular musical artist of his generation left a musical legacy that few singers could hope to match. The emotive Can’t Help Falling in Love would be a beautiful tribute to a lost husband or wife and competes with Are You Lonesome Tonight? and Love Me Tender as his greatest romantic ballad.
Tears In Heaven
Often referred to as the world’s greatest living guitarist, Eric Clapton wrote this touching song following the tragic death of his son, Conor. While the lyrics concentrate on the trauma of losing your child, the sensitivity of the music makes it a suitable choice for the funeral of a person of any age.
Let It Be
Paul McCartney’s favourite Beatles song was inspired by a dream he had about his mother who had died when he was 14. 1969 was a turbulent year for The Beatles and McCartney was much troubled. His mother appeared to him in the dream helping to calm his fears and telling him to Let It Be. An evocative and strangely haunting classic, many people still find peace in this song more than 40 years after its release.
Candle in the Wind
This is the song that was famously performed by Elton John at the funeral of Princess Diana. Originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Elton re-wrote the lyrics upon the death of his friend at the request of her family. Released as a charity record it became the biggest selling single of all time. A profound expression of love and healing the song was described as “proof that music can unite the world in the celebration of life and in an emotional grieving for a loss".
Dignity was the first single from Deacon Blue and comes from the band’s debut CD, Raintown, a concept album about life in Glasgow. The song’s lyrics express a yearning for ‘a better life’ and a plea to humanity to consider others as you would yourself. This makes the song a suitable choice to remember those who dedicated their lives to helping others.
Adagio in G Minor
A very beautiful and soothing composition, Albinoni’s Adagio has become one of the most popular classical pieces to be played at funerals. Its calm nobility has often been used to add emotion to films and advertising.
A gentle and calming composition that would allow mourners an interval in the service to pause and remember the life of their loved one. Bach was a family man with 20 children who dedicated his life to music, once walking 200 miles to hear a fellow organist.
Adagio for Strings
A spiritually uplifting piece of music, Barber’s intention was that this noble composition would demonstrate respect, admiration and love for other men and has been used to enhance the atmosphere of numerous films. This would be an ideal choice of music for a family to remember and pay tribute to their father.
Für Elise is the more common name for one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions, the Bagatelle in A Minor for Solo Piano. The identity of Elise is unknown but from the music the listener is in no doubt that she was beautiful and demure. The sentiment of this composition has meant that it is often used at funerals to remember a female partner.
Claire du Lune
Debussy has often been described as the master of subtlety and nuance. Claire de Lune translates as Light of the Moon and the ingenuity of this composition lies in the ease with which you can imagine the moon appearing slowly from behind a cloud as the music reveals its full sensuality. A perfect musical piece to provide a few moments of reflection during the service.
Nimrod from 'Enigma' variations
Enigma Variations – musical portraits of the composer’s friends and relatives – was Elgar’s first success even though he was over 40 years old at the time. This solemn yet uplifting music has been played on numerous state occasions, when its restrained grandeur has never failed to create a deep impression.
Fauré’s music was usually restrained and nowhere more so than in this gentle, undulating theme where he took a traditional French slow dance and added a melancholy melody. A very feminine piece of music that has been used to advertise soap and perfume, this composition could be used for the funeral service of a mother or wife.
Canon for Strings and Continuo
A simple yet haunting canon – a piece of music for several instruments which each enter after each other, playing the same music at the same tempo. The three violins begin playing long notes which gradually get faster and faster until the exact middle of the piece, when it then slows at the same tempo. A dignified composition that would be particularly suitable for the funeral service of a person who had led a long and full life.
This well-known, well-loved hymn was written by Rev. John Newton in 1773 after he miraculously survived a storm at sea. The recording by the pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1972 spread its popularity and this piece of music was played at funerals and memorial services for members of the New York Police and Fire Departments following the attacks of September 11 2001. The history of this hymn makes it a popular choice for those who are proud of their Scottish origins.
Satie wrote three piano pieces called Gymnopédies – slow dances of classical Greek inspiration. The music’s soothing and tranquil qualities make it ideal as a means to pay tribute to the life of a loved one.
When arranging a funeral for your mother, you will have the choice of the funeral songs or music that will be played during the service. Here’s a list of funeral songs, which are fitting when saying goodbye to a loving mother.
Popular songs for a mother’s funeral include:
- In the Arms of an Angel - Sarah McLachlan
- You’re My Best Friend - Queen
- Supermarket flowers – Ed Sheeran
- Goodbye’s the Saddest Word – Celine Dion
- Mama – Il Divo
- Don’t Forget to Remember Me – Carrie Underwood
- I’ll Always Love My Mamma – The Intruders
- In My Life – The Beatles
- Momma, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
- Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
When organising a funeral for your father, there are several things you need to consider. One of those is the choice of funeral songs; it could be his favourite song, or something a bit more comforting. We have compiled a list of funeral songs that are appropriate for the funeral of a father.
Popular songs for a father’s funeral include:
- You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
- Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross
- The Living years – Mike & The Mechanics
- My Father’s Eyes – Eric Clapton
- Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own – U2
- Hero – Mariah Carey
- Fathers and Daughters – Michael Bolton
- Song for Dad – Keith Urban
- Thank You for Being Dad – Jon Barker
When picking funeral music for your grandma’s funeral, you should consider picking their favourite song or the song that reminds you of them. The most important thing is that it’s special to you, her and the rest of the family. We’ve put together a list of funeral songs that are suitable for your nan’s funeral.
Popular songs for a grandma’s funeral include:
- Nan’s Song – Robbie Williams
- Grandma’s Song – Gail Davies
- Grandma’s Feather Bed – John Denver
- Smile – Nat King Cole
- Amazing Grace – John Newton
- Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
When thinking about a funeral song for your grandad, you should think about his favourites or songs that remind you and friends and family of him. We have created a list of funeral songs to help you choose or to give you ideas.
Popular songs for a grandad's funeral include:
- Heaven Was Needing a Hero – Jo Dee Messina
- Fix You – Coldplay
- Grandpa – Justin Moore
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Many people have traditionally believed a funeral should be a serious and sombre occasion. Now, more and more people are breaking the mould by opting for a funeral service that is a celebration of their loved one's life. For those ceremonies, uplifting funeral songs can help bring comfort to family and friends, and may even raise a smile.
Examples of happy and uplifting songs to play at a funeral include:
- Three Little Birds – Bob Marley and the Wailers
- Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
- See You Again – Wiz Khalifa
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye
- Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Almost any piece of music can be played at the funeral as long as copyright restrictions do not apply. Commonly, people choose hymns for funerals or play a CD of a favourite song or piece of classical music.
Many crematoria have a full digital music library available to choose from. Please contact your local Dignity Funeral Director to discuss your wishes or preferences. It is also advisable to speak to whomever is leading the ceremony when you are creating a funeral order of service.
Our experts will give you all the support and advice you to make necessary funeral music arrangements. Whether it’s sourcing funeral music or assembling a choir, we will help you every step of the way.
If you've got a particular song or piece of music in mind that you'd like to discuss in more detail, please get in touch with your local Funeral Director today.