65 Popular Funeral Songs To Play at a Funeral (2024)

Last updated 20th June 2023
5 min read

The most popular funeral songs for a perfect send-off

Ever thought what music you'd want at your funeral? It's a bit like Desert Island Discs, choosing the funeral songs that mean something to you or say something about you. And finding the best tunes for a loved one's farewell can be challenging too.

Where once it was Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' that sent the funeral congregation reaching for their handkerchiefs, today it's more likely to be modern funeral songs like Robbie Williams' 'Angels', or Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven'.

These changes reflect how more people are opting for a funeral as a celebration of life over a traditional service. If you're starting to think about later life planning, finding out more about over 50s life insurance could be a good place to start.

To give you some inspiration for your funeral planning, here's a selection of popular funeral songs as well as some more unusual choices.

65 Popular Funeral Songs To Play at a Funeral (1)

Poignant and uplifting funeral songs

As you'd expect, sad songs feature highly in most top 10 funeral song lists. It's not hard to see why these poignant and uplifting qualities are popular choices.

Sad funeral songs

  • I'll See You Again – Westlife
  • Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
  • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  • Nothing Compares to You – Sinead O'Connor
  • Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

Eva Cassidy – Over the Rainbow

Good funeral songs to raise a smile

There's no rule that says happy songs aren't appropriate. In fact, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' is ever present in polls of modern funeral songs and was played (very appropriately) at Python Graham Chapman's memorial.

Happy funeral songs

  • Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python's Life of Brian
  • Bring Me Sunshine – Morecambe and Wise
  • Don't Worry. Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  • What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Songs for the funeral of a parent

A song at a funeral is a lovely way to pay tribute to a dearly loved parent. You'll know when you've found the perfect funeral song because it will touch you and instantly remind you of your mother or father.

Funeral songs for Mum

  • Like a River – Carly Simon
  • You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
  • Mama – Il Divo
  • Goodbye's the Saddest Word – Celine Dion
  • One Sweet Day – Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men

Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up

Funeral songs for Dad

  • Thank You for Being My Dad – Jon Barker
  • In the Living Years – Mike & the Mechanics
  • My Father's Eyes – Eric Clapton
  • Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross
  • Hero – Mariah Carey

Eric Clapton – My Father's Eyes

Songs to play at a funeral of a friend

The best songs for a friend are often those that take you back to good times and reflect the special bond you shared.

Funeral songs for a friend

  • Don't You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
  • Stand By Me – Ben E King
  • Smile – Nat King Cole
  • You'll Never Walk Alone – Judy Garland / Gerry and the Pacemakers
  • Perfect Day – Lou Reed

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

TV themes – a different take on a funeral song

If you can't find an appropriate song, why not the theme tune from their favourite TV show? For footy fans there's 'Match of the Day' and for daytime telly addicts, how about the 'Countdown' clock music?

TV themes popular as funeral songs

  • Only Fools and Horses
  • Coronation Street
  • Match of the Day
  • Great British Bake Off
  • Test Match Special – Booker T & the MGs 'Soul Limbo'

Match of the Day theme tune

Good funeral songs to reassure

Perhaps the most touching song choices are those made by the deceased in their lifetime – songs they hoped would reassure and comfort the loved ones they left behind.

Comforting funeral songs

  • We'll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
  • I'll See You Again – Westlife
  • You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson
  • Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
  • Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx

Vera Lynn – We'll Meet Again

Classical songs for a funeral

More traditional music is popular for a reason. You don't have to be a classical music fan to be moved by the beauty and powerful emotions of these funeral requiems.

Classical funeral songs

  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • Nessum Dorma – Puccini
  • Amazing Grace – Various artists
  • Pie Jesu – Faure
  • Song for Athene – Sir John Tavener

Hayley Westenra – Ave Maria

Popular funeral hymns

Times have changed. It's now more acceptable to have a mix of funeral hymns and popular music at a religious funeral service.

Popular funeral hymns

  • Abide With Me
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • The Lord's My Shepherd
  • Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Good funeral songs for a last laugh

Choosing songs for your funeral can be a great way to make everyone smile and have the last laugh (literally). Rumour has it a schoolmistress known for her strict ways chose the song 'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead' as her parting shot!

Funny funeral songs

  • Highway to Hell – ACDC
  • I'll Sleep When I'm Dead – Bon Jovi
  • Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
  • Ding Dong the Witch is Dead – From Wizard of Oz
  • Going Underground – The Jam

ACDC – Highway to Hell

Modern song choices follow trends

Every year the latest pop songs join the ranks of popular funeral songs. Some come and go quickly with changing trends. Others like Robbie Williams' 'Angels' become a favourite almost instantly and remain popular.

Modern funeral songs

  • Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve
  • Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
  • Lay Me Down – Sam Smith
  • Someone Like You – Adele
  • My Immortal – Evanescence

Sam Smith – Lay Me Down

Songs for funerals that go the distance

So, what other funeral song choices have stood the test of time? We asked people who had recently arranged a funeral what their music choices were – here are a few that cropped up time and again.

5 all-time favourite funeral songs

  • My Way – Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
  • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler/Celine Dion
  • Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
  • Angels – Robbie Williams
  • Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy

Brightman/Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye

And finally, here are some of the more unusual choices. Whether or not these were inappropriate funeral songs depends on whose funeral it was – the great thing is that these days, anything goes!

Unusual funeral songs

  • Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum/Doctor and the Medics
  • Dancing Queen – Abba
  • We Are the Champions – Queen
  • Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  • I'm Still Standing – Elton John

Queen – We Are the Champions

Which song would you want played at your send-off? Mulling this over might get you thinking about what else you'd like for your funeral. And don't forget to talk about your funeral arrangements because if you don't, the people arranging your funeral may not know what to do.

SunLife's My Perfect Send-Off planner is designed to make recording your funeral wishes a little easier. It guides you through your options and lets you save your answers ready for when they're needed.

We also have lots of information to help with funeral arrangements including tips to make a funeral more personal, how to write a funeral eulogy, and poems for funerals.

At SunLife, we offer a range of products and services that may be of interest, including over 50s life insurance, our Guaranteed Inheritance Plan, and equity release.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.

65 Popular Funeral Songs To Play at a Funeral (2024)


65 Popular Funeral Songs To Play at a Funeral? ›

Music for Funerals Entrance. The entrance music sets the tone for the ceremony, evoking emotions of reverence and respect. Popular choices often include classical pieces like "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber or "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert.

What is a good entrance song for a funeral? ›

Music for Funerals Entrance. The entrance music sets the tone for the ceremony, evoking emotions of reverence and respect. Popular choices often include classical pieces like "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber or "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert.

What is a cheerful song to end a funeral? ›

One song particularly embodies what a “happy funeral song” sounds like to most people. This timeless gem is Louis Armstrong's “What a Wonderful World,” a poignant and uplifting melody that transcends cultural boundaries.

What is the 1960s song suitable for a funeral? ›

Below shows the following songs on the page: Hey Jude, Bridge Over Troubled Water, My Way, Let It Be, Sound of Silence, What a Wonderful World, Blowin' in the Wind, Here Comes the Sun, You've Got a Friend.

What is a good song for a loved one who passed away? ›

Here are some of the most recommended sad songs for grief: Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven. Sarah Mclachlan - In The Arms of an Angel. The Beatles - Let It Be.

What is a beautiful funeral song? ›

Some of the most modern songs for funerals include:

When September Ends – Green Day. I'll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans. Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi. Lay Me Down – Sam Smith.

What is a good song to say goodbye at a funeral? ›

And finding the best tunes for a loved one's farewell can be challenging too. Where once it was Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' that sent the funeral congregation reaching for their handkerchiefs, today it's more likely to be modern funeral songs like Robbie Williams' 'Angels', or Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven'.

What is the number one funeral song? ›

The most requested song for a traditional funeral service is “Amazing Grace,” a Christian folk hymn written by English poet John Newton. Many find the message of forgiveness and redemption a beautiful tribute to the mercy of God.

What is the best song to say goodbye? ›

The 13 Most Popular Funeral Songs for a Special Goodbye
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
  • Wake Me Up When September Ends.
  • Wasn't Expecting That.
  • Fix You.
  • I Will Follow You into the Dark.
  • Waves.
  • My Heart Will Go On.
  • Supermarket Flowers.

How to make a funeral not sad? ›

You can switch things up by choosing readings, songs, etc. that are a bit more celebratory. They'll work wonders for your loved one's funeral services and make them feel festive as opposed to downright sad. Invite people to wear bright colors to your loved one's funeral services.

What is the upbeat funeral hymn? ›

Happy and uplifting hymns for a funeral include:

All Things Bright and Beautiful. Morning Has Broken. Lord of the Dance. Shine Jesus Shine.

What is the oldest funeral song? ›

The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, being dated between the first and second century CE.

How to pick a funeral song? ›

How to choose funeral music
  1. You could choose music that the family associates with the person, e.g. My Way, Angels, Wind Beneath My Wings, Simply the Best, Danny Boy, If Tomorrow Never Comes, You Say It Best. ...
  2. You could choose to have live music played, e.g. bagpipes, buglers, guitars, jazz bands.

What is a happy song to leave at a funeral? ›

What a Wonderful World — Louis Armstrong. A hit song that has become a much-loved funeral song over the years. “What a wonderful world” helps inspire listeners to think past their grief and remember it's still a wonderful world even though their loved one has left the Earth.

What is a song that represents family? ›

Best songs about family
  • 'We Are Family' by Sister Sledge. ...
  • 'Father And Son' by Cat Stevens. ...
  • 'Family Business' by Kanye West. ...
  • 'Family Is Family' by Kacey Musgraves. ...
  • 'See You Again' by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. ...
  • 'Keep the Family Close' by Drake. ...
  • 'Daddy Sang Bass' by Johnny Cash. ...
  • 'Breathing' by Kate Bush.
Apr 12, 2024

What is the death condolence song? ›

Wind Beneath My Wings has been one of the most popular funeral songs since its release. Originally intended to be a love song, it wasn't until the songs writers heard it performed as a ballad that they realized the song has a greater meaning.

What is a good entrance hymn for a funeral? ›

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is a very moving hymn and can be accompanied by bagpipes at funeral services. The lyrics focus on finding peace in death which is why it is a popular choice for a loved one's funeral.

What is the classical entry music at a funeral? ›

Ave Maria

A timeless classic that's recognized and loved by countless people, Ave Maria might be the most popular classical song for funerals. Many believe it's the perfect piece for honoring loved ones, as it's an adaptation of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer.

What is a reflection song at a funeral? ›

You can play music during the moment of reflection if you like. Often, people choose soft, peaceful music so it won't distract others from their thoughts. This could be instrumental music – like classical compositions – or gentle songs with meaningful lyrics.

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