Selecting the Right Music for One’s Funeral Service

Choosing the correct music for a loved one’s funeral personalises the service and enables you to pay tribute to their life in a significant and memorable way prior to burial or cremation. Whereas in the past a funeral director would provide a list of standard music options involving an organ and some vocals that was quite limited, today that is no longer the case.

Times have changed and so have funerals. Nowadays, many different instruments are used for live performances at funeral homes and venues, and a lot of people are opting for custom memorial services where they can incorporate their own pre-selected music to commemorate the deceased more personally, with genres ranging from classical to R&B and modern pop.

Music for Funerals – Songs for Loved Ones That Have Passed

Typically, you will have complete control of the music when arranging a funeral for a mum, dad, grandparent, child or spouse or partner. The songs can be happy, sad, melancholic or uplifting, or they can be a combination of these with a touch of nostalgia. Whatever songs you choose, it’s always a good idea to opt for music that captures the essence of the individual and reflects their life and loves.

To help you with your funeral music selection, we’ve compiled a list of songs that you could play at an upcoming funeral.

Popular Funeral Songs

  • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  • Angels – Robbie Williams
  • My Way – Frank Sinatra
  • Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
  • The Best – Tina Turner
  • Only Time – Enya
  • I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans

Classical Funeral Songs

  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • Nimrod (from “Enigma Variations”) – Elgar
  • Canon in D – Pachelbel
  • Adagio in G minor – Tomaso Albinoni
  • The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
  • Pie Jesu – Fauré
  • Air on the G String – Bach

Songs for the Funeral of a Spouse or Partner

  • Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
  • Best I Ever Had – Gary Allan
  • Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi
  • Halo – Beyoncé
  • Wonderwall – Oasis
  • Lay Me Down – Sam Smith
  • A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

Songs for the Funeral of a Mother

  • Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
  • Don’t Forget to Remember Me – Carrie Underwood
  • Goodbye’s the Saddest Word – Celine Dion
  • You’re My Best Friend – Queen
  • Mama – Il Divo
  • Supermarket flowers – Ed Sheeran
  • I’ll Always Love My Mamma – The Intruders

Songs for the Funeral of a Father

  • You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
  • Song for Dad – Keith Urban
  • Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross
  • My Father’s Eyes – Eric Clapton
  • The Living Years – Mike & The Mechanics
  • Thank You for Being My Dad – Jon Barker
  • Fathers and Daughters – Michael Bolton

Songs for the Funeral of a Grandparent

  • Smile – Nat King Cole
  • Nan’s Song – Robbie Williams
  • Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
  • Grandma’s Song – Gail Davies
  • What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  • Grandpa – Justin Moore
  • Heaven Was Needing a Hero – Jo Dee Messina

Songs for the Funeral of a Child

  • A Mother's Prayer – Celine Dion
  • Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) – Billy Joel
  • Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
  • Bright Eyes – Simon & Art Garfunkel
  • Smallest Wingless – Craig Cardiff
  • Precious Child – Karen Taylor-Good 
  • Who You'd Be Today – Kenny Chesney 

Tips for Choosing the Right Funeral Music

There are a lot of amazing songs out there worthy of being played at the funeral of your dearly departed. However, not all of them are well-suited to the person that has passed. 

Ideally, the music that you select will honour the deceased and be meaningful to them in some way. The songs that you play should also set the tone for the service, provide comfort to those who are grieving and help mourners reflect on the life of the lamented.

The following tips will aid in choosing funeral music that achieves all of the above:

Spend time thinking about the person that is going to be memorialised. 

If they enjoyed a particular genre of music or had a favourite song that you’re aware of, then consider adding it to your playlist. As long as the song or music was significant to the deceased and isn’t offensive to others, it’s an excellent option.

Browse through their personal music library. 

The person’s computer, online streaming account, MP3 player and CD/tape/vinyl collection are all places to get ideas for funeral music, if you have access. It will provide insights into the type of music they liked and appreciated. It is their funeral, after all (no pun intended).

Review the lyrics of the songs you’re considering. 

Many times, the lyrics of a song will not match its melody, rhythm and beat, etc., so look them up and ensure that they are appropriate for a funeral. There are many websites on the internet that provide the lyrics to songs. All it takes is a quick Google search.

Determine the tone or mood of the service. 

What tone would you like to set for the funeral service? Listen to the songs that will potentially be played with this in mind. The funeral can be sombre and subdued, or it can be upbeat and cheerful, with a focus on celebrating the life of the individual in a livelier fashion.

Keep in mind the purpose of the music you plan to play at the funeral. 

Funeral ceremonies come in many forms and do not need to be traditional. Unconventional choices are made all the time. What’s most important, ultimately, is that the music that is played at the service honours and respects the deceased person.

Funerals and Copyright: Things You Should Know

Funeral homes and venues are obligated to comply with copyright law for music played during services. While there may be exceptions, they are generally required to hold licences that allow the playing of copyrighted music and other creative works. 

Typically, funeral homes will purchase a blanket music licence that enables them to comply with federal copyright laws. Not all songs are covered by standard licences, and non-compliance can lead to fines.

Any time that a person uses or copies a creative work from any source, it is important to be mindful of copyright. In many cases, a copyright licence will not cover a specific work, activity, event or situation. And, depending on the context, simply attributing works to their author won’t be sufficient; the copyright owner must grant permission for use. 

For information and assistance with funerals and copyright, check out APRA AMCOS and NFDA.

There Is Power in Music

Music has the power to unite, evoke special memories and bring joy and consolation to those mourning a lost loved one. 

Picking the right funeral music can be challenging, though. With so many song options available, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Fortunately, you can ask others for help if you’re struggling with your music selection.

The key to picking the perfect funeral music is to prioritise the person being honoured while taking into account the setting and mood and those that will be doing the honouring. With the information, suggestions and tips provided in this post, you’re already well equipped to create a suitable funeral playlist that won’t soon be forgotten.

Baileys Print Co.

Baileys Print Co. is a family run printing business based in Melbourne. We’ve been getting inky fingers for over 19 years.