How to Choose Music for a Funeral

Published: November 11, 2022

One of the most personal aspects of a funeral is the music. Music sets the tone and expresses emotions that cannot be conveyed with mere spoken words. Because it is emotional, music can have a powerful impact on those who will attend the funeral. Musical expressions have the power to help people grieve, reflect, relive precious memories, and feel gratefulness for a life well lived.

First, let us consider the specific parts of the funeral for which music may provide a special element.

* Visitation or receiving of friends

* Prelude or entrance music

* Memorial video music

* Congregational singing

* Postlude or exit music

* Reception

At the very least it is recommended to have music playing while people enter the funeral service and while they leave the funeral. However, most families choose to have at least two songs sung or played during the service. Next are some ideas to help you choose just the right music.

Favorites

When choosing music for a funeral, the first question to ask is, “What type of music did they love?” Whether they preferred Bach or Elvis, those closest to them probably know their favorites. And, if they enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres, there can be a variety throughout the time of remembrance. For example, Bach, which emanates a reflective, hopeful tone, could enhance the funeral entrance music playlist. Whereas, Elvis might be saved for a more casual time of remembrance at the reception following the service.

Mood

Music is a powerful element because it communicates a certain mood which can be somber, hopeful, reflective, full of lament … as well as formal, casual, mournful, or celebratory. And, some music can even embody a wide range of moods in one song. Hymns are famous for being both somber and hopeful.

What mood or message would your loved one want to be communicated at their service? Most people want their family and friends to feel hopeful in their mourning. And, if your loved one would be most honored with a light-hearted celebration, almost any type of music they loved would be appropriate throughout the service from beginning to end.

Musicians

As you contemplate a fitting, personal music list, you will need to consider how the music will be presented. Has a family member or friend offered to sing? Or, perhaps the music will be digitally played over the speaker system. Will the church choir or congregation lift up their voices in song? Or, perhaps you were able to book their favorite local band with just three days’ notice. If you aren’t booking a band or string quartet, charging a set price, you should still consider sending a monetary gift as a thank you to the musicians who graced the funeral.

Popular Music Choices

When searching for music that is fitting for your loved one’s service, YouTube is a terrific resource. We will share a few songs we found on YouTube for you. You may choose one of these songs, or these might lead you to just the perfect song to remember your loved one. You can click on the title of the song to listen.

Religious

Amazing Grace - bagpipe

Amazing Grace – Aretha Franklin

Hallelujah

What a Day That Will Be

It is Well with My Soul

I Shall Know Him

I Can Only Imagine

It is Not Death to Die

In Christ Alone

Glorious Unfolding

I Saw Jesus In You

No More Night

I Will Rise

Welcome Home

Heaven’s Now My Home

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

Children of the Heavenly Father

Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow

Is He Worthy?

Hymn of Heaven

Non-Religious

Wind Beneath My Wings

You Raise Me Up

Remember Me This Way

 If Heaven was Needing a Hero

Let It Be

Because You Loved Me

Fly Me to the Moon

Greensleeves

Time to Say Goodbye

Only Time

May It Be

Supermarket Flowers

One Sweet Day

Don’t Cry for Me

My Heart Will Go On

When I’m Gone

Gone Too Soon

When I Get Where I’m Going

What a Wonderful World

From a Distance

The music you choose will communicate in a powerful, personal way the life’s message of your loved one. There may be tears of sorrow and tears of joy as your selections echo through the crowd of loved ones gathered. Your efforts to choose just the right music will make the funeral memorable and comfort hearts as you honor your loved one.

 
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