Funeral songs and music
Saying farewell to a loved one is an emotional event. Many families want to make what is a difficult day, a personal, heartfelt celebration. Your choice of funeral music can make a huge difference, and a lovely way to add something meaningful to the funeral proceedings is to include songs special to you and your loved one.
Whilst funeral hymns have traditionally been the funeral music of choice, TV theme tunes, humourous and happy funeral songs have become some of the most popular funeral songs in recent years in the UK.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, read our list of popular funeral songs and other funeral music ideas.
Your loved one's favourite songs
An easy way of selecting the best funeral songs and most fitting funeral music is to choose your loved one’s favourite songs. Even if it isn’t exactly traditional funeral music, the 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 they didn’t have a favourite song, you could instead consider what they enjoyed doing such as hobbies or interests. 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
The UK’s most popular funeral song, and an all-time classic, is My Way by Frank Sinatra. The lyrics speak volumes, and the spine-chilling crescendo ending can leave guests with plenty of happy memories.
Here are some of the UK’s other most popular funeral songs:
- Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Middler
- Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
- Angels by Robbie Williams
- Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
- You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers
- The Best by Tina Turner
- Unforgettable by Nat King Cole
- Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran
- Let It Be by The Beatles
Popular funeral songs from TV and film:
Only Fools and Horses theme tune
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 theme tune
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.
Soothing and peaceful funeral songs and 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.
Soothing and peaceful funeral songs include:
- We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn
- I’ll See You Again by Westlife
- You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson
- Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx
- Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve
Classical 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.
Some of the most popular classical music for funerals include:
- Canon in D by Paachelbel
- The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
- Ave Maria by Schubert
- Pie Jesu by Fauré
- Adagio by Albinoni
Humorous and happy funeral songs
Even though funerals are by nature sad, solemn affairs, some families choose 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.
Other uplifting and happy funeral songs include:
- Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and the Wailers
- Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
- What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
- Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye
Funeral hymns are another popular choice of music for funerals in the UK. Traditionally, there are two hymns sung at a Christian funeral service, one hymn to open the service and a second as a closing hymn, although many people find comfort in including funeral hymns in their loved one’s funeral service, even if their loved one was not religious.
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'.
See our list of popular funeral hymns for more inspiration.
Arranging a funeral for your loved one
Don’t forget to check out our Guidance & Advice section for more funeral planning tips and ideas. If you're planning the funeral service, you might find our how to write a eulogy guide or list of popular funeral readings helpful.
Would you like to let your friends and family know the songs you'd like to play at your own funeral? Request a free share your wishes form.