Choosing the Perfect Funeral Music


Organising a funeral is a deeply personal task, often filled with a mix of emotions. In this challenging time, music emerges as a source of comfort and reflection, playing a vital role in the ceremony. It serves not just as a background element, but as a poignant tribute, reflecting the personality and memories of the departed.

This article aims to guide you in selecting appropriate music for a funeral. We’ll explore various aspects of this choice, from traditional hymns to more personalised selections, ensuring the music resonates with the essence of your loved one’s life story. Our goal is to help you create a fitting and memorable musical tribute for the farewell service.

Table of Contents

The Role of Music in Funerals

Music in funerals goes beyond mere tradition; it touches the hearts of those in mourning, offering solace and a means to express deep emotions. The power of a well-chosen song or hymn lies in its ability to capture the essence of the departed’s life, echoing their beliefs, values, and the memories they leave behind.

In different cultures and religious practices, music holds varying significance. For instance, traditional hymns may be integral in Christian services, offering comfort and hope, while other faiths might have specific musical customs that honour the deceased. Secular services often lean towards more personalised selections, reflecting the individual’s unique tastes and life experiences.

This diversity in musical choices allows for a service that is as unique as the person being remembered. Whether it’s a classical piece that speaks to a shared heritage, a contemporary song that was dear to the departed, or even a light-hearted tune reflecting their personality, each selection contributes significantly to the tone of the service.

Our exploration here will provide you with an understanding of how different types of music can fit into a funeral service, helping you make a choice that is respectful, meaningful, and true to the memory of your loved one.

Selecting Music That Honours the Departed

Choosing music for a funeral is a deeply personal decision, reflective of the departed’s life and personality. 

Here are some practical tips to help you in this process:

Reflect on the Departed’s Tastes: Consider the music genres, artists, and specific songs the departed loved. 

This personal touch can make the service more meaningful.

Consider Lyrics and Tone: Ensure the lyrics are appropriate for a funeral setting. 

They should ideally resonate with the departed’s life philosophy or offer comfort to mourners.

Balance Emotions: Aim for a balance of tones – some songs might be sombre, reflecting loss, while others might be more uplifting, celebrating the departed’s life.

Examples of Popular Funeral Music Options

When selecting music for a funeral, a wide range of options from traditional hymns to contemporary songs can be considered.

Here are more examples to help guide your choice:

Traditional Hymns

  • “Amazing Grace” – A timeless hymn offering comfort.
  • “Abide With Me” – A hymn of faith and reassurance.
  • “The Old Rugged Cross” – Symbolic of Christian faith.
  • “Ave Maria” – A serene and soothing hymn.
  • “How Great Thou Art” – A hymn celebrating spiritual magnificence.
 Contemporary Choices
  • “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen – A modern classic with spiritual undertones.
  • “My Way” by Frank Sinatra – Celebrating individuality and life’s journey.
  • “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton – A song of loss and longing.
  • “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler – A tribute to someone who was a supportive presence.
  • “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – A soothing, hopeful rendition.
  • “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth – A contemporary song about parting and hope for reunion.
  • “Angels” by Robbie Williams – For a sense of guardianship and remembrance.
  • “In My Life” by The Beatles – Reflecting on cherished memories.
  • “Fields of Gold” by Sting – Evoking beautiful, peaceful imagery.
 Instrumental Music
  • “Clair de Lune” by Debussy – A gentle, reflective piano piece.
  • “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber – A powerful, emotive composition.
  • “Canon in D” by Pachelbel – A popular, uplifting choice.
  • “The Four Seasons: Spring” by Vivaldi – Symbolising renewal and life cycles.
 Cultural and Religious Music
  • “Va, Pensiero” (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) by Verdi – A piece with operatic grandeur.
  • “Nessun Dorma” by Puccini – An opera classic known for its emotional depth.
  • “Jerusalem” – A hymn often used in British ceremonies.
  • “Kol Nidrei” for Jewish services – A solemn and reflective piece.
  • “Om Mani Padme Hum” for Buddhist ceremonies – A chant that invokes peace and enlightenment.
These examples offer a wide range of musical choices, allowing you to select songs that best fit the personality of the departed and the mood of the service. 
Remember, the right music can profoundly impact the tone of the funeral, offering solace and celebration of life in equal measure.

Music for Different Service Segments

Choosing the right music for different segments of a funeral service is crucial in creating a ceremony that is both respectful and reflective of the departed’s life. Each part of the service offers an opportunity to evoke specific emotions and memories through music. From the moment mourners arrive to the final farewell, music can guide the emotional journey of the service. Whether it’s the welcoming notes that greet family and friends, the reflective melodies accompanying poignant moments, or the uplifting tunes that conclude the ceremony, each selection has a unique role to play.

Here’s a guide to selecting music for various segments of the funeral service:

Reception of Mourners: Soft, instrumental, or background music can create a comforting atmosphere as people gather.

Entrance Music: Choose a song that was significant to the departed or one that sets the tone for the service.

During the Service: A mix of hymns, instrumental music, and personal favourites can be played at different points, perhaps after eulogies or readings.

Exit Music: A more uplifting or hopeful song can be a fitting end, celebrating the departed’s life journey.

Personalising Music Selection

Honouring the Departed: When personalising funeral music, it’s essential to reflect the deceased’s preferences and personality. This could involve including their favourite song or a genre they loved. Consider their lifestyle and tastes to choose music that genuinely represents them, especially if they hadn’t specified their preferences.

Mindfulness for Attendees: It’s important to be mindful of the attendees, selecting music that is respectful and inclusive. The aim is to choose songs that offer comfort and resonate with a wide audience, avoiding anything potentially offensive or inappropriate.

Reflecting the Legacy: The chosen music should encapsulate the departed’s life and legacy. Aim for songs that evoke shared memories or embody the spirit of the deceased, creating a service that feels like a celebration of their life and leaves a lasting impression.

Other Considerations

Personal Stories and Testimonials

Incorporating personal stories or testimonials can deeply enrich the process of choosing funeral music. Hearing about songs that provided comfort or perfectly encapsulated a loved one’s memory in other services can be inspiring. These stories can offer insights and ideas that resonate on a more personal level, making the selection process more relatable and heartfelt.

Decision Making for the Unsure 

For those uncertain about their music choices, it’s beneficial to consult with family members or close friends of the deceased. They can provide valuable input, ensuring the music selection truly reflects the personality and life of the departed. When in doubt, consider the deceased’s hobbies, favourite pastimes, or any music they often enjoyed. This collaborative approach can lead to a more meaningful and representative selection of songs.


Selecting music for a funeral is a significant part of celebrating and honouring a life. By carefully considering the departed’s personality, preferences, and the needs of mourners, you can create a service that is both touching and respectful. Remember, the chosen music is not just for a day; it becomes part of the lasting memory of the person you are honouring.

Recommended Posts