Choosing the best funeral songs
Saying farewell to a loved one is an emotional event. Trying to make what can be a difficult day a personal, heartfelt celebration is a big ask - especially when the funeral takes place at an unfamiliar location or is officiated by someone that didn’t know the person very well. This is where personalisation can make a huge difference, and a lovely way to add something meaningful to the funeral proceedings is to include funeral music special to you and your loved one.
Choosing the best funeral songs can be tough, even more so if the person wasn’t an especially big fan of music or didn’t make it clear what their tastes were. If you’re struggling for inspiration, read our list of popular funeral songs and funeral music ideas.
Their favourite songs
An easy way of selecting the best funeral songs and most fitting funeral music is to choose their favourite songs. Even if it isn’t exactly traditional funeral music, the much more important factor is that the song would be appreciated. Plus, if others know that the song was their favourite, you can expect a few smiles of acknowledgement.
If you aren’t sure what their favourite song was, try looking through their music collection if they have one. You could end up getting some inspiration from something in their collection, or find that record or CD that looks particularly well-played. You could even try logging on to their Spotify account if they have one and look for the most played songs.
If you still can’t find their favourite song, then start looking a little further into what they enjoyed doing. Maybe their favourite TV theme tune would be a fitting funeral soundtrack? What about a song from their favourite film? Creating links between what they loved in life and their funeral ceremony can be a great way of ensuring everyone at the service can celebrate and remember.
Popular funeral songs from TV and film:
Only Fools and Horses
If they were a big fan of Rodney, Del Boy, Grandad or even Trigger, then why not include the music from this classic sitcom as part of the ceremony? Instantly recognisable, this one will certainly have guests smiling and remembering happier times.
Match of the Day
If your loved one was a football fanatic, then what better accompaniment than the Match of the Day Theme Tune. If cricket was more their thing, then Soul Limbo by Booker T & the MGs (the theme music to Test Match Special) may be a better choice.
Always look on the bright side of life
Humour is something that can really change the whole feel of a funeral, so adopt some Monty Python silliness with this version from John Cleese, Michael Palin and the rest of the gang. It’s also a great message for others that although the day itself is sad, cherished memories will never be forgotten.
If you’re also organising the eulogy, check out our How to Write a Eulogy guide.
Soothing and peaceful funeral music ideas
As well as meaning something to both the person and their family and friends, funeral songs can also provide a moment for those who are mourning to reflect. Choosing funeral music that is inspirational, soothing or even calming may give distressed attendees a moment to gather their thoughts, and spend some time reflecting.
Irish singer Enya is famous for soothing, relaxing songs sung in both English and her native Irish (you may remember her music from the Lord of the Rings films). If your family or friend has Celtic roots, then Athair Ar Neamh or May it Be could be good choices for their funeral music.
Classical music for funerals can be a good way of creating a few minutes of time for reflection, plus it’ll help to give larger spaces like churches or religious buildings the grandeur they deserve. The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams is the ideal accompaniment to a more traditional funeral ceremony, and the Nimrod (from the Nimrod Variations) by British composer Edward Elgar is a good choice for the end of the ceremony, with a beautiful melody and slow pacing allowing attendees to say their goodbyes.
The most popular songs played at funerals often include hymns. If you’ve decided on the music you’re going to have at the start and end of the funeral, then it might be a good idea to add some meaningful funeral hymns into the ceremony itself. No matter where the funeral is taking place, a few hymns will allow everyone to join in and sing an uplifting or thought-provoking song together.
All Things Bright and Beautiful is one of the most popular hymns played at funerals, celebrating the beauty of life, this funeral hymn is generally an uplifting song. Alternatively, I Watch the Sunrise carries a message about the passing of time and may add comfort to those in mourning that others have been in their position, and that they shouldn’t feel alone.
One of the most popular funeral hymns in the UK is Jerusalem. Instantly recognisable and full of moments of inspiration, this hymn carries a positive message: 'even if all seems lost, life carries on'.
If your ceremony is non-religious, then you could always ask for the funeral hymns to be played without any words. Many hymns have gentle and comforting melodies, so they could be ideal for a moment of remembrance.
Humorous funeral songs
Even though funerals are by nature sad, solemn affairs, it certainly doesn’t hurt to include a bit of fun and humour. Humorous funeral songs might be the perfect way to reflect the wishes of the departed, so don't be afraid to play something that will bring a chuckle to the room. A popular funeral song of this nature is Another One Bites the Dust by Queen! Some of the best funeral songs for those with a sense of humour area: The End by the Doors, or It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.
You should now have some funeral music ideas to take away and share with others who are involved with organising your friend or loved one’s farewell. If you’re still stuck for inspiration, then you could always opt for the UK’s most popular funeral song, and an all-time classic, My Way by Frank Sinatra. The lyrics speak volumes and the spine-chilling crescendo ending will definitely leave guests with plenty of happy memories.
Arrange an attended funeral for your loved one
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Don’t forget to check out our Guidance & Advice section for more tips and ideas.
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