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Top 10 Songs for a Funeral Ceremony

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Music can be a powerful component of the funeral ceremony because it allows us to process our feelings in a very special way. Grief counselor and educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt says that music imprints itself on the heart more than any other experience in life. Music can help us express our emotions in unique ways that words cannot.

As you select songs for your loved one’s funeral service, think about songs that were meaningful to them; almost any song that your loved one enjoyed could be used in their service. If you’re unsure where to start, though, here are 10 great songs you can incorporate into your loved one’s funeral or memorial service.

Fire and Rain (James Taylor)

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day

This enormously popular early ’70s hit, written and passionately sung by the great James Taylor, contains many themes that apply to a funeral audience: the loss of a friend, praying for help from a higher power, and attempts to stand firm during times of “fire and rain.” The peaceful and sweet melody balances the honest and vulnerable lyrics, capturing both the complexity of the grieving process and the various emotions people experience in the aftermath of loss.

Stand by Me (Ben E. King)

Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me

This classic pop song is simple and direct, but that doesn’t mean it lacks depth or heart. An instantly recognizable anthem of love and perseverance, the song strikes just the right note for a funeral, conveying hope amid painful circumstances. When we go through difficult times, we all need someone to stand by and support us, and this song beautifully encapsulates that need. It’s been covered many times by a number of talented artists, but the original is preferable for its familiarity and for King’s raw energy.

You Raise Me Up (Westlife)

I am strong
When I am on your shoulders
You raise me up
To more than I can be

While several bands have covered “You Raise Me Up,” Westlife’s version is one of the most popular. With lyrics that remind us that we are stronger because of the people we surround ourselves with, this song would be a beautiful tribute to a parent or mentor who was always there to support those around them. Additionally, for those who are religious, “You Raise Me Up” can be seen as a reminder that during times of grief, we can turn to God for support.

You’re My Best Friend (Don Williams)

You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I’ve never known
You gave life to our children
And to me a reason to go on

This song’s simple, straightforward lyrics beautifully capture the love between a married couple. Don Williams delivers some of the most heartfelt and heartbreaking lines ever recorded as a tribute to the person who is his “anchor in life’s oceans.” Losing someone you love, lean on, and find comfort in is one of the hardest things you can go through, and this song can serve as a heartfelt tribute to honor the memory of a spouse or long-time partner.

We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn)

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Vera Lynn’s 1939 classic has undeniably been a favorite choice for funeral services for many years. Written on the eve of the Second World War, it captured the sentiments of many families who had to say goodbye as their loved ones left for battle. But this British tune has taken on a deeper meaning as families have used it in funerals for their loved ones. Vera Lynn’s piercing voice conveys hope in the face of loss in a way that carries universal appeal, and many people have used it to say goodbye to someone they love.

Into the West (Annie Lennox)

Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home

While it was composed for the end credits of the 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, respect for this song extends far beyond Tolkien fans. The universal appeal of the lyrics and Lennox’s breathtaking vocal performance make it a great choice for a funeral service. The nature-driven imagery highlights both the pain of loss and the hope of a peaceful rest for a loved one. Lennox’s faith-driven assurance that “you and I will meet again” makes this a particularly good choice for religious ceremonies.

Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton)

Beyond the door
There’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more
Tears in heaven

Written after the loss of his 4-year-old son, “Tears in Heaven” is a moving piece about Clapton’s grief journey. The gorgeous melody, masterful acoustic guitar work, and heartfelt lyrics are perfect for honoring the life of a loved one. Over the past 25 years, the song has sprung up in many funerals, and its popularity isn’t surprising. “Tears in Heaven” portrays a bold and honest struggle with grief, while the profoundly personal nature of the song resonates with many families who have lost loved ones.

Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Once they released their self-titled 1975 album, Fleetwood Mac exploded into the mainstream. The album features many of the band’s most popular songs, but Landslide, a heartfelt exploration of loss and change, packs the greatest emotional wallop. A great choice to honor the memory of a parent or close loved one, this gentle pop song has been a favorite at memorial services for many years.

See You Again (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth)

So let the light guide your way, yeah
Hold every memory as you go
And every road you take
Will always lead you home

The most recent song on this list, See You Again, was written and recorded for Furious 7 (2015) as a goodbye to Paul Walker, one of the main actors who died suddenly during the movie’s production. Charlie Puth’s heartfelt vocals and Wiz Khalifa’s nostalgic rap work together to create a song filled with both the grief of loss and gratitude for the happy memories together. In recent years, this song has struck a chord with many grieving families and captured the hope of a time when we’ll be reunited with the loved ones we’ve lost.

My Way (Frank Sinatra)

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Sinatra’s anthem is undeniably one of the most popular funeral songs, and it’s easy to see why. This classic song celebrates a life well lived and is a testament to the power of the individual and the impact that they can have on the world. In addition, the beautiful lyrics and Sinatra’s powerful voice work together to create a bold, heartfelt sound. A fitting tribute to a loved one who embraced life to the fullest and faced “the final curtain” with dignity, “My Way” is still a timeless song to honor a loved one.

For more suggestions on songs to include at a funeral service, check out the resources below:

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Orange walkman with pile of cassette tapes beside it

10 Songs from the 1980s for a Celebration of Life

By Meaningful Funerals, Music, Planning Tools

Orange walkman with pile of cassette tapes beside it

When it comes to planning a loved one’s celebration of life or final tribute, music plays a pivotal role. It sets the tone and invites people to express their emotions openly. To create a truly personal tribute, it’s important to choose songs that are meaningful or significant in some way. For those who grew up through the decade – or just love the music from that decade – here’s a list of 1980s songs to consider including at a loved one’s celebration of life.

1. Always Something There to Remind Me (Naked Eyes – 1982)

Oh, how can I forget you?When there is always something there to remind meAlways something there to remind me

An enduring cover of the original song, this 1980s version has become a true classic. As with many love songs, its focus on love, loss, and memory makes it an appropriate song for a funeral or memorial service. As the lyrics state, how can we ever forget those we love? We won’t and that’s as it should be. Those we have loved and lost will continue to live on in our hearts and memories for the remainder of our lives.

2. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper – 1984)

If you’re lost, you can look, and you will find meTime after timeIf you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waitingTime after time

Anyone familiar with the best jams from the 80s will know this catchy title. Cyndi Lauper’s first #1 hit in the United States, its message is both bittersweet and hopeful. For the grieving, its discussion of feeling confused, experiencing flashbacks, and having suitcases of memories may feel familiar. You may feel the same way. But as the song says, even when you’re feeling lost, you can find your loved one – look to your memories!

3. Endless Love (Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – 1981)

Ooh, yesYou will always beMy endless love

For those who are mourning the loss of a spouse or partner, this gorgeous song may be a worthy addition to a celebration of life. Not only does the music cascade around you and carry you with it, but its lyrics are unforgettable. Having an “endless love” is a beautiful thing and a true gift in this life. If that’s true of your relationship with someone, consider including this classic to honor and celebrate that love.

4. Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler – 1988)

Did you ever know that you’re my heroAnd everything I would like to be?I can fly higher than an eagleFor you are the wind beneath my wings

Part of the soundtrack for the movie Beaches, this moving rendition highlights the relationships in our lives that make us feel encouraged, lifted up, and capable of so much more. Perhaps one of the most-played funeral songs, it’s perfect to honor a mentor, a parent, or someone who has been a constant source of love and support in your life.

5. Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler – 1983)

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears

While this recognizable tune may seem an unusual addition to the list, it describes the grieving process very well. Sometimes, you will feel lonely, tired, nervous, or a bit terrified. You may occasionally feel like you’re falling apart. Just as the singer is experiencing an eclipse of the heart through the dissolution of a relationship, so are you – through the death of a loved one.

6. Goodbye My Friend (Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville – 1989)

So goodbye my friendI know I’ll never see you againBut the time together through all the yearsWill take away these tears

Though not Linda Ronstadt’s most well-known song, this one still hits the mark. It speaks about the unexpectedness of death but also how the good times – the cherished memories – will carry you through the grief journey ahead. In fact, it’s those memories and the love you shared that will take away the tears. With its focus on friendship, this song is a good addition to a final tribute for someone you considered a dear friend.

7. Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen – 1986)

And we can have foreverAnd we can love foreverForever is our today

A true legend, Queen produced music that still speaks to us today. With its ethereal and absolutely stunning sound, “Who Wants to Live Forever” forces us to confront a question we rarely ask ourselves. Do we really want to live forever? And the song suggests that rather than trying to life forever, let’s instead make the most of the “one sweet moment set aside for us.” This song is perfect for the Queen enthusiast or someone who thought about the deep things in life.

8. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You (Michael Bolton – 1983)

Tell me, how am I supposed to live without you?
Now that I’ve been loving you so long

In his signature style, Michael Bolton takes us along for an emotional experience with this heart-wrenching song. As with many love songs, it works well as a funeral song for a beloved spouse or partner. After loss, the future may look scary or unfamiliar, and you may not be sure how you are supposed to live without that special person. The lyrics perfectly capture that sense of love, loss, and trying to find the way forward.

9. I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) – (New Kids on the Block – 1989)

We’ve gone too far to ever turn back nowThis love will last foreverI can see it all now

With its soft cadence and soothing melody, this song from New Kids on the Block will set the tone for any celebration of life. With softness and kindness, its lyrics help us remember that when we lose someone we love, they are never truly gone. Love lasts forever – far beyond the years we have together. While this song naturally lends itself to being used for the final tribute for a significant other, you could also use it for a female sibling, parent, or friend.

10. Forever Young (Rod Stewart – 1988)

Be courageous and be braveAnd in my heart you’ll always stayForever young, forever young

Written by Rod Stewart with his children in mind, “Forever Young” became an instant classic. The song doubles as a reminder that our loved ones will be forever young, forever alive, in our memories. No matter what life may bring in the years ahead, your loved one will be remembered and never forgotten. Consider this song for honoring the life of a parent, a child, a young person, or someone who was eternally young at heart.

Songs from other decades

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral


1970s music on a casette tape

9 Songs from the 1970s for a Celebration of Life

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Music is powerful – it can help us express our emotions and open us up to feelings we’re avoiding. That’s why choosing the right songs for a funeral can make such a big impact on the service. Picking personalized music can help create a healing experience for you and your family.

1970s music on a casette tape

Choosing your loved one’s favorite songs can be a great start, but you can also consider music from the decade they were born in – or a decade of music that they always enjoyed listening to. If you’re looking for music from the 1970s to incorporate into your loved one’s funeral or celebration of life, here are 9 songs you can try.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel, 1970)

When tears are in your eyes
I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side

When you lose a loved one, you may feel like you are alone. But funerals remind us that others are grieving the loss just like we are. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” highlights how we can find comfort in each other during difficult times. At a funeral or memorial service, this song could serve as a heartfelt reminder to help each other through the difficult days ahead.

Farewell My Friend (Dennis Wilson, 1977)

You take the high road
And I’ll take the low road
And we’ll meet again

Saying goodbye to someone you love is hard. In “Farewell My Friend,” Dennis Wilson captures the idea of saying farewell to someone you care about. But this song isn’t just about saying goodbye. It’s also about embracing hope for the future and believing that you will someday see your loved one again, which would make it a hopeful addition to a funeral or celebration of life.

Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver, 1971)

I hear her voice in the mornin’ hour, she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away

A song full of nostalgia and longing, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a classic for a reason. These heartfelt lyrics speak about the desire to be with a loved one who is far away. At a funeral or memorial service, this song can capture the longing you feel to see that person you love, especially if they were someone you called “home.”

Lean On Me (Bill Withers, 1972)

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

After the death of a loved one, you need the support of friends and family members. “Lean On Me” encourages us to lean on each other for support during difficult times. Plus, this song reminds us that there is hope to be found on the other side of grief and pain. Life will get better, and you can trust that there are times of hope and joy to come.

I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton, 1974)

Bittersweet memories
That’s all I am taking with me

When you lose someone you love, they’re still a part of your life through your memories. This classic song beautifully captures how love continues even when someone is no longer a part of your life. While looking back on your time with your loved one may hurt right now, this song can remind you that you feel grief because you loved them so much.

Let It Be (The Beatles, 1970)

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be

A song about finding comfort during dark times, “Let It Be” reminds the grieving that there is hope on the other side of grief. While you may be tempted to run from your emotions, embracing your feelings and allowing yourself to feel sad or angry is an important part of the grieving process. In a way, this classic Beatles song can help everyone remember that it’s okay to let yourself feel those negative emotions.

Going Home (Annie Haslam, 1977)

Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

A solemn song with surprisingly hopeful lyrics, “Going Home” speaks about reuniting with loved ones after death. While death can be a scary topic for many people, this song suggests that peace can be found in a life well-lived and that death provides a release from pain. If you’re looking for the hope of reuniting with your loved one, this song could make a great addition to a service or a memorial slideshow.

For a Dancer (Jackson Browne, 1974)

And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
That you’ll never know

“For a Dancer” tells a beautiful story about the way people’s lives touch each other. Even though your loved one is gone physically, they live on in your memory and in the impact they made on their family and friends. This song is a reminder that you can find meaning in the positive impact you make in other people’s lives, which can give you hope for the future.

Bright Eyes (Art Garfunkel, 1978)

There’s a high wind in the trees
A cold sound in the air
And nobody ever knows when you go

After someone you love dies, you may ask yourself deep questions about life as you search for meaning. “Bright Eyes” captures the way you can feel lost after the death of a loved one. As you and your family mourn the loss, this song can be a reminder that it’s okay to ask questions and search for meaning.

Songs from other decades

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral

Record player

10 Songs from the 1960s for a Celebration of Life

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Record player

One of the most important parts of a funeral is music. When we’re grieving, music helps us express our feelings in ways that words can’t and helps us feel the emotions we’ve been holding back. Additionally, the songs played at a funeral or celebration of life set the tone for the gathering and help create a healing and meaningful service.

While many people assume that songs played at a funeral must be quiet, sad, or traditional, that’s not necessarily true! When planning a funeral, you can choose personalized music. For example, select your loved one’s favorite song or melodies that are meaningful to your family. If your loved one grew up in the 1960s or just loved music from that era, check out these 1960s songs you could include in their funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life.

My Way (Frank Sinatra, 1969)

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Possibly the most famous Frank Sinatra song and one of the most popular funeral songs, “My Way” is a classic for a reason. Throughout this song, the slow, sweet rhythm perfectly matches Sinatra’s beautiful voice, creating a timeless melody. Because of the bold lyrics, “My Way” is the perfect song to include at a funeral or celebration of life to honor someone who always did things in their own unique way!

Stand By Me (Ben E. King, 1962)

I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking, which is why we need support during those difficult times. When we’re grieving a loss, “Stand By Me” can remind us that we can face anything with the people we love by our side. At the same time, this song is a lovely nod to the relationship we still have with the ones we have lost, which remains strong even as it transitions to a relationship of memory.

Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum, 1969)

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best

One of the more upbeat songs on this list, the fun, quirky sound of “Spirit in the Sky” might seem out of place at many funerals. But the song speaks about Heaven and the hope of reuniting in the future. When you plan a celebration of life, this song could be a unique way to honor a loved one who was always upbeat and hopeful.

I’ll Remember You (Elvis Presley, 1966)

To your arms someday, I’ll return to stay
‘Til then I will remember too

We had to include at least one Elvis song on our list! This beautiful song speaks about never forgetting a loved one, even when they are gone. Throughout “I’ll Remember You,” Elvis’s soulful voice captures the deep longing for a lost loved one. Even more importantly, the beautiful lyrics make this the perfect tune to play at a funeral, memorial, or celebration of life. In addition, this song would work very well in a memorial video.

You’ll Never Walk Alone (Gerry & The Pacemakers, 1963)

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

If you watch a lot of soccer/football, this song may be familiar to you! “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is more than the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club – it’s also a beautiful call to hope during dark times. Whether your loved one was a football fan or not, this song can encourage your friends and family as you grieve together.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Fairport Convention, 1969)

I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

Part of grieving is mourning the loss of more time with our loved ones. “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” is a sweet song about the passage of time and the sorrow of a loved one leaving. Because of that, this song would be wonderful for a funeral or celebration of life, and it could also work very well as a background song for a slideshow of photos of your loved one.

If We Never Meet Again This Side Of Heaven (Johnny Cash, 1962)

If we never meet again this side of Heaven
As we struggle through this world and its strife
There’s another meeting place somewhere in Heaven

A thoughtful melody about reuniting in Heaven, “If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven” is a song of hope for the future. With this comforting song, we can find hope by remembering that we will someday see our loved ones again. “If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven” would make a great addition to any kind of service, especially for someone who was a Johnny Cash fan.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (The Byrds, 1965)

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven

Based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, this classic song captures the idea that there is hope in our darkest moments. While the difficult season we are in may seem unending, we can remember that other seasons will come and that there is purpose in our pain. Because of the encouragement “Turn! Turn! Turn!” offers, listening to this song can give mourners hope that better times are coming.

In My Life (The Beatles, 1965)

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed

A nostalgic song that reminisces about days gone by, “In My Life” is a pondering reflection about the love we still have for those who are no longer with us. Even after we lose a loved one, they still exist in our memories, which we can cherish forever. Listening to this song at a funeral or when you miss your loved one can remind you of your favorite moments with the ones you love.

Daddy Sang Bass (Johnny Cash, 1968)

One of these days and it won’t be long
I’ll rejoin them in a song
I’m gonna join the family circle at the throne

Losing family members can be one of the hardest trials we face as we grow older. “Daddy Sang Bass” is an upbeat song all about the comfort songs bring and the hope of reuniting with our loved ones in Heaven. While this song will work for almost any funeral, it would make a great addition to a funeral or celebration of life for a dad or a beloved father figure.

Hopefully, these songs have opened your eyes to a whole new way of selecting music for funerals. However, if the 1960s just aren’t the right genre for your funeral planning needs, please check out these other resources:

Songs from other decades

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral

1950s jukebox

11 Songs from the 1950s for a Celebration of Life

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

1950s jukebox

Did you know that you can use your loved one’s favorite music to personalize their funeral? Music plays an important role in a funeral by helping mourners express emotions they may not be able to put into words. Personalized songs and music that was special to your loved one can help create a healing and meaningful funeral for your family and friends. Many people have a deep connection with the music they grew up with, which makes songs from their childhood a great choice for their memorial service. If your loved one grew up in the 1950s or just enjoyed the swinging, melodic sounds of the decade, here are a few songs that you could play at their funeral or celebration of life.

Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin, 1959)

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin’

While “Beyond the Sea” was first written in the 1940s, the song was popularized by Bobby Darin in 1959. This classic song beautifully captures the longing for a loved one and the hope for a meeting in the future. Plus, if your loved one was part of the Navy or loved sailing and the ocean, including this song at their celebration of life would be a wonderful personal touch.

They Can’t Take That Away from Me (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, 1956)

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No, no, they can’t take that away from me

Originally written in 1937, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” is even more beautiful when sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in this 1956 version of the song. When we lose a loved one, our relationship with them changes to one of memory. This song perfectly highlights how our loved ones live on in our memories and encourages us to cherish the small moments we shared with our loved ones.

Always (Ella Fitzgerald, 1958)

I’ll be loving you always
With a love that’s true alwaysWhen the things you’ve plannedNeed a helping handI will understand always

“Always” was originally written in 1926, but Ella Fitzgerald’s 1958 version of the song showcases both her voice and the lyrics beautifully. A song about commitment, loyalty, and neverending love, “Always” would make a wonderful addition to a funeral or celebration of life for a spouse or significant other.

Autumn Leaves (Edith Piaf, 1951)

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

An elegant song full of passion, “Autumn Leaves (Les Feuilles Mortes)” was recorded by Edith Piaf in 1951. With lyrics in English and French, this song speaks of missing and longing for someone you are separated from. “Autumn Leaves” would make a lovely funeral song for a significant other.

Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley, 1956)

Love me tender
Love me true
All my dreams fulfilled
For my darlin’ I love you
And I always will

Elvis Presley is one of the most well-known singers of all time, and “Love Me Tender” is one of his most iconic songs. The passionate lyrics speak of unending love and gratitude for the impact a loved one made on your life. This song could work well either as part of a service or as background music for a slideshow of photos of your loved one.

Thinking of You (Fats Domino, 1953)

Yes, I want you to know
That I need you so
You’re on my mind
Everywhere I go

Recorded by Fats Domino in 1953, “Thinking of You” speaks about the memories that linger when we lose someone we love. When a loved one dies, anything can remind us of them. This song showcases the way we see our lost loved ones all around us, making it a great choice for a funeral or memorial service.

Unforgettable (Nat King Cole, 1952)

That’s what you are
Though near or far

A slow, thoughtful song, “Unforgettable” was recorded by Nat King Cole in 1952. The people we love make an impact on our lives that we cannot forget, and these beautiful lyrics highlight how our loved ones leave their mark on our lives. The perfect song to honor any loved one, “Unforgettable” would be an excellent choice for a memorial service or celebration of life.

Raining in My Heart (Buddy Holly, 1959)

I tell my blues they mustn’t show
But soon these tears are bound to flow
‘Cause it’s raining, raining in my heart

Released just after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959, “Raining in My Heart” was originally recorded in October 1958. While the music is more cheerful than some songs on this list, the lyrics speak about the deep sadness we feel when we lose a loved one. A sweet reminder that it’s okay to be sad, “Raining in My Heart” could make a unique addition to a funeral or celebration of life.

Because of You (Tony Bennett, 1951)

Because of you
My life is now worthwhile
And I can smile
Because of you

Originally written in 1940, “Because of You” became Tony Bennett’s first big hit in 1951. The peaceful lyrics highlight the joy, love, and happiness that our loved ones bring to our lives, making this song perfect for honoring someone who positively impacted your life. “Because of You” would work especially well in a celebration of life or a slideshow.

Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Patsy Cline, 1959)

When my feeble life is o’er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore

While the origins of the original hymn are unclear, Patsy Cline’s version of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” was released in 1959. This traditional song speaks about growing stronger in faith and closer to Jesus daily. For a loved one who was devoted to their faith, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” could pay homage to their strong faith and dedication to God.

Peace in the Valley (Red Foley, 1951)

There’ll be no sadness
No sorrow
No trouble, I’ll see
There will be peace in the valley for me

Another traditional Christian song, “Peace in the Valley” was originally written in 1939 under the full title “There’ll Be Peace in the Valley for Me.” While the song has been sung by many singers, including Elvis Presley, this version was recorded by Red Foley in 1951. A song about hope, Heaven, and peace after death, “Peace in the Valley” would be an excellent song to include in a religious funeral or celebration of life.

Songs from other decades

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral

10 Songs from the 1940s for a Celebration of Life

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Music plays a vital role in a funeral service or celebration of life. Songs played at a funeral can set the tone for the service, open us up to feelings we’ve been avoiding, and express emotions we can’t put into words. For this reason, renowned grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt says that music is one of the most important elements of a funeral.

When choosing music to play at the service, it’s important to pick songs that will be meaningful to your family and friends. Of course, if you know your loved one’s favorite songs, you can incorporate those into the funeral. But if your loved one grew up in the 1940s – or just loved the beautiful sounds of 1940s music – here are ten songs you could use to honor their memory.

I’ll Be Seeing You (Billie Holiday, 1944)

I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through

A classic song about missing someone you love, this version of “I’ll Be Seeing You” was recorded by Billie Holiday in 1944. Both the lyrics of this 1940s song and Billie’s beautiful voice capture the feeling of seeing your lost loved one all around you. Whether you use this song in your loved one’s celebration of life or not, listening to it can provide comfort by reminding you that your loved one lives on in your memory.

Fun fact: “I’ll Be Seeing You” was played for the Opportunity rover on Mars after it finished its final mission!

We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn, 1939)

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

While “We’ll Meet Again” was originally released in 1939, it became enormously popular in the 1940s, especially during World War II. At a time when many families lost their fathers, brothers, husbands, or sons to the war, they found comfort and hope in this beautiful song. As you and your family mourn the loss of your loved one, playing this song during the funeral or celebration of life can bring your family and friends hope for the future.

Only Forever (Bing Crosby, 1940)

Do you think I’ll remember
How you looked when you smile?
Only forever
That’s puttin’ it mild

Recorded by Bing Crosby in 1940, “Only Forever” spent 20 weeks on the Billboard charts and 9 weeks in the #1 spot. This popular song speaks of love, loyalty, and remembering a loved one forever, which makes it a wonderful choice for honoring your significant other, a parent, or a close friend. This song would also make a great background song for a slideshow of photos honoring your loved one.

Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller, 1939)

Released in 1939, “Moonlight Serenade” was one of the most popular songs of the 1940s. While Glenn Miller’s original tune has no words, the music is smooth, peaceful, and full of emotion. This classic swing tune evokes pleasant memories of days gone by and hope for the future, making it perfect for a funeral or memorial service.

A Sentimental Journey (Doris Day, 1944)

Gonna set my heart at eas
Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories

Performed by Les Brown and His Band of Renown, “A Sentimental Journey” was sung by Doris Day and released in 1944. Whether you’re looking for a song to play at a celebration of life or just to listen to while thinking of your loved one, this lovely tune encourages reminiscing and cherishing the memories of days gone by. It would also be a wonderful song to use for a slideshow at a memorial service.

When the Saints Go Marching In (Louis Armstrong, 1938)

Now when the saints go marching in
Yes, I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

While the exact origins of “When the Saints Go Marching In” are unclear, the gospel song likely developed from a combination of similar songs. There are many versions of the song, but in 1938, Louis Armstrong transformed the song into the jazzy version modern listeners are most familiar with. While this song is more upbeat, it can be a lovely, personal addition to a funeral or memorial service for someone who was passionate about their faith.

Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland, 1939)

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

“Over the Rainbow” is an instantly recognizable tune for any fan of The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland captured audiences’ imaginations as Dorothy Gale in 1939, and her signature song took on a life of its own – in the 1940s and beyond. Filled with dreams and hope for the future, “Over the Rainbow” would be a lovely song to play at a celebration of life, especially for someone who loved The Wizard of Oz.

Till the End of Time (Perry Como, 1945)

Till the end of time
Long as stars are in the blue
Long as there’s a spring, a bird to sing
I’ll go on loving you

While several artists recorded their own versions of “Till the End of Time,” Perry Como’s version of the song was the most popular by far, staying at #1 on the Billboard charts for ten consecutive weeks. With lyrics about everlasting and unconditional love, this song would make a touching addition to a funeral or celebration of life for a lost spouse or significant other.

Ave Maria (Frank Sinatra, 1944)

“Ave Maria” was originally composed by Franz Schubert as “Ellens dritter Gesang” (“Ellen’s Third Song”) in 1825. Soon after it was released, the song became popular in the Catholic church and gained religious significance. Frank Sinatra’s version of the song was recorded in 1944, and his beautiful voice pairs wonderfully with the song. If your loved one was religious, you could incorporate this lovely song in the funeral or memorial service.

Lavender Coffin (Lionel Hampton, 1949)

Saint Peter
I’m a-comin’
Saint Peter
Yes, I’m a-comin’ today

One of the more upbeat songs on this list, “Lavender Coffin” was recorded by Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra in 1949. This swing song provides a different perspective on death and a hopeful outlook on life, Heaven, and the future. While this song is more cheerful in tone than some of the other songs, it could be a passionate addition to a celebration of life or a homegoing.

Songs from other decades

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral

Violin laying on a wooden table

11 Classical Music Songs for a Funeral Service

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Symphony orchestra on stage, hands playing violin. Shallow depth of field, vintage style.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Danish author Hans Christian Andersen

In our greatest times of pain and grief, we often don’t have the words to describe the intense emotions we feel. This feeling is a common experience for those of us who have recently suffered a great loss. That’s where the power of music can help provide needed comfort.

For many of us, music has the unique ability to give us words when grief and agony have left us silent. A beautiful melody or lyric can perfectly capture what we’re feeling and speak to us deeply and emotionally.

Renowned grief expert, counselor, and author Dr. Alan Wolfelt teaches that music is an important element of a healing and meaningful funeral. Music can set the tone of a funeral, bring our emotions to the forefront, and allow us to grieve with others in mourning, which is essential to why we have funerals.

There are many musical genres that can help bring healing during a funeral. Many people find classical music moving and there are many songs and arrangements to support this belief. If classical music sounds like the best way to honor your loved one and bring healing to those in pain, here are a few suggestions that could help.

1. Con Te Partirò (Time to Say Goodbye)

While other songs on this list also have a connection to death, Con Te Partirò passionately and unapologetically embraces the emotions we often feel during a loss. This arrangement focuses on the separation we feel when a death occurs. It also highlights that the pain of our grief will not be at the forefront of our lives forever.

Originally written by Francesco Sartori and Lucio Quarantotto in 1995, Con Te Partirò is a beloved favorite for many classical music fans and has become a common piece at funerals. Its messages of finding beauty beyond our pain and remembering that our loved one’s memory will always be with us ring true for many.

2. Adagio for Strings

Samuel Barber is widely regarded as the most talented American composer of his generation, and Adagio for Strings is one of the reasons. Played on a full orchestra of strings, the song’s somber and solemn melody has been known to help those in grief. It paints an emotional backdrop for pain with hauntingly beautiful rises and falls. Barber’s classic is slow at times, but it picks up steam at the 4:40 mark and crescendos for a breathtakingly moving mountain top at 5:25.

Adagio for Strings played at the funerals of Albert Einstein and Princess Grace of Monaco. The song was broadcast after the passing of Princess Diana and U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3. Irish Tune from County Derry

If a string orchestra isn’t to your liking, the brass sections of Irish Tune from County Derry might be more appropriate. The arrangement’s soft opening is followed by a melodic resonance that brings the song to life. Composed by Percy Grainger, the piece focuses on powerful, positive notes that can help us remember the good memories of our loved ones and what made them special. Plus, the flute solo (2:15) is especially beautiful and leads way into the powerful melody (3:11).

The character of Irish Tune from County Derry makes this an excellent choice to play at a loved one’s funeral.

4. 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. Whether played or sung, this song can help bring our emotions to the surface, so that we may acknowledge that a death has occurred and begin our path toward healing.

Many artists have performed the song over the years, with Luigi Vena’s performance at President Kennedy’s funeral remaining one of the most memorable.

5. Liebesträume No. 3 (Dreams of Love)

Piano and classical music go hand in hand for most of us. It only makes sense to include multiple wonderfully crafted piano arrangements that speak to the soul. Franz Liszt published three piano works in 1850, with Liebesträume No. 3 being his most popular. The piece was inspired by the poem O Lieb, so lang du lieben kannst (O love, so long as you can), which focuses on the importance of love, the pain of loss, and the promise to make every moment matter.

Throughout the song, we hear the clash between love and death (2:20). These shifts were Liszt’s desire, as he strived to write a piece as heart-wrenching as it is troubled.

6. Mad World

So many talented artists have covered Mad World since its release more than 40 years ago. While Dennis Korn’s piano version might be one of the newest, it certainly is moving and beautiful. Originally written by Roland Orzabal of the British band Tears of Fears, Mad World was born from Orzabal’s time of songwriting, in which he watched everyday people live their lives outside his window. Orzabal felt disconnected, alone, and out of place in the world because of this – feelings we may have experienced after the death of a loved one.

Dennis Korn’s piano cover brings new life to the song. His version captures what it means to feel grief, as the base notes and the higher pitch melody serve as an example of the variety of emotions we may feel. The song’s familiarity, simplicity, and powerful emotions make it an ideal choice for any type of funeral.

7. Canon in D

It’s true, Johann Pachelbel’s classic is traditionally a staple at weddings, but its powerful builds and remarkable harmonies also make it an impactful piece to celebrate the life of a loved one. The song’s quick tempo and moving melody can help us reflect on the positive memories we have of the deceased, rather than the pain we feel from their absence.

Cannon in D can also be performed by either a large or small number of musicians. Arrangements of this classical music piece exist for classical string quartets, piano, two musicians, and more. The song is also familiar to many, making it impactful to your audience and easy to use for funerals.

8. Adagietto (Symphony No. 5)

Another full orchestral piece, Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto (Symphony No. 5) brings inspirations of peace and sadness. Mahler wrote this eerily captivating arrangement soon after he fell seriously ill and had to resign as conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. It’s possible his failing health inspired him to write such a moving piece that features incredible builds at 3:10 and 10:15.

The lightness of the harp in the beginning and the whimsical movement of the second act also make this a piece that can help us find peace, if only for a brief moment.

9. Lux Aeterna (Nimrod)

Performed by British vocal ensemble VOCES8, this a cappella version is sung with warmth and beauty. It’s hard to believe there are no instruments involved. The voices that echo Edward Elgar’s glorious swelling melody have been heard at weddings, funerals, and even events for the British monarchy. As one of 14 pieces Elgar dedicated to cherished friends and family, Elgar wrote Lux Aeterna (Nimrod) for a devoted friend who stood by the composer during his struggles with depression.

The rise and fall of the voices signify our daily struggle with grief and the varying emotions we may feel. The song builds to an overwhelmingly well-balanced and breathtaking sound (2:15) that is difficult to describe and best left to enjoy.

10. Air on a G String

No list of classical music, no matter the circumstances, would be complete without Johann Sebastian Bach. Based off Bach’s No. 3 in D Major, August Wilhelmj composed this arrangement in 1871 and offers a gentle pulse that truly is the key to the piece’s popularity. The song’s moving violin section, steady base, and perfectly accompanied organ create unmatched emotion.

Not too long or too short, this piece is great for honoring life and bringing healing.

11. Candle in the Wind

Similar to Mad World, the final entry on this list is widely popular. It has even been covered numerous times since its release by Elton John in 1973. The original may not fall into the traditional classical genre, but when played on piano alone, it’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Elton John wrote the song in honor of Marilyn Monroe’s death, then played at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. Both versions are classics and focus on the pressures we put on ourselves that might make us feel inadequate.

With powerful lyrics, Candle in the Wind is equally as moving in its original version or as instrumental only. There are several elements of the song that make it a perfect choice for a funeral.

Other musical options for a meaningful funeral

How to Write a Eulogy

By Funeral Poems, Meaningful Funerals, Music

Being asked to write and present someone’s eulogy is a great honor and is often reserved for those closest to the person who died. But it can also be a challenge. Whether you’ve given multiple eulogies, or you are writing your first one, it can be difficult to decide which special moments to include, what theme to focus on, and how to ensure the eulogy properly honors the deceased. Then there’s the public speaking factor, which most of us don’t particularly enjoy.

There is no set template or outline a eulogy has to follow. In fact, eulogies can be presented in many different ways, depending on the loved one or the family’s wishes. However, there are a few things to remember before getting started.

But before we get into how to write a eulogy, let’s review what a eulogy is and why it’s an important part of saying goodbye.

What is a Eulogy?


A eulogy is a speech or writing praising someone highly, typically someone who has just died. But more than that, a eulogy is telling your loved one’s story, sharing what made them remarkable, and explaining why you love them. A good eulogy can capture who they were, bring memories alive, and offer comfort to those who grieve.

Usually, the eulogizer — the eulogy presenter — is someone very close to the loved one. A child, grandchild, spouse, or even a dear friend can be asked to give the eulogy. While most people accept when asked to be the eulogizer, it is perfectly acceptable for you to politely decline. You may think you’ll be too emotional in the moment or maybe you just didn’t know the deceased well enough. Whatever your reason, you can ask that someone else give the eulogy.

If you accept writing and delivering your loved one’s eulogy, you should know that your participation will play an important role in the grieving and healing process. Hearing about the loved one’s life can help those who remain begin the difficult, but necessary, journey toward healing. Renowned grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt has done a lot of research on how to grieve well, and he has found that there are six universal needs of mourning. The eulogy is an important part of showing how much you loved one’s life impacted others and how those memories will live on.”

What Should Be in a Eulogy?

Everyone Has a Story typed words on a vintage typewriter. close up

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s look at the technical part of writing a eulogy. That starts with deciding what to include and what to leave out.

A eulogy’s overall message should be positive, uplifting, and encouraging. Focus on the happy memories and the meaningful moments you shared with your loved one. This is a time to remember the joy they brought to the world, so you’ll want to avoid bringing up negative or controversial memories.

You’ll also want to include specific facts: their birthplace, professional career, military service, places they lived, etc. More personal info like how they met their spouse, names of their children, their favorite places to relax, the church they attended, etc. can help paint an accurate picture of their life and legacy.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what you want to talk about, it’s time for the hardest part — the beginning.

How to Start a Eulogy

soft focus. Hand high school or university student in casual holding pencil writing on paper answer sheet. Sitting on lecture chair taking final exam or study attending in examination room or classroom

First things first — there is no perfect way to start a eulogy. You can use a poem, a funny story, the loved one’s obituary, or something else to get started. There are some key elements that you’ll want to include in your introduction, though.

It’s likely that not everyone will know who you are, so take a moment to introduce yourself and your relationship with the deceased. Your next step will depend on your relationship. If you’re a close friend or outside of the immediate family, express your condolences for the family’s loss. This will show your empathy to those who are feeling your pain, but on a greater scale.

It’s also polite to thank those in attendance for coming to honor your loved one. You can mention how much it would mean to your loved one to see so many people from their life in attendance. Then, use your next few sentences to explain the eulogy’s theme or what kind of memories you will focus on. This will serve as a simple transition into the heart of your eulogy.

How to End a Eulogy

blank notebook with pencil on wooden table, business concept

Like the beginning, there is no correct way to conclude a eulogy. All that matters is that your final words are genuine. Speak from your heart so those listening can understand what you’re feeling. Summarize the theme of the eulogy and the lasting impact your loved one will have on those present.

If you didn’t include a meaningful poem, song lyric, inspirational quote, etc. in your introduction, the ending is also an ideal time to include those meaningful words. Poems, songs, quotes, or other sources can sometimes perfectly capture what you wish to say, but you may have a hard time expressing. The same can be said for a small joke. Laughter can be a great way to end a eulogy, just remember to find the appropriate balance to maintain the utmost respect for the deceased.

Saying goodbye to your loved one is another valuable option. Speaking directly to them can bring peace to the grieving. If you or the family are religious, offering a prayer at the end might seem most appropriate. Whatever you decide, remember to keep the ending heartfelt to match the rest of the eulogy’s tone.

How Long Should a Eulogy be?

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Keeping the attention of those in attendance is the biggest factor in deciding how long a eulogy should be. You also don’t want the eulogy to be too short because it will look like you didn’t put enough thought into it, or too long, as you might lose the audience’s attention and can even risk you getting off-topic. This is why it can be challenging to decide what to include and what to leave out.

The ideal time to present a eulogy is between 5 and 10 minutes. This typically allows you enough time to honor your loved one’s life appropriately without losing the attendees’ focus. Since you want to keep the eulogy brief, remember to stay on topic when writing the eulogy and above all — practice giving the speech.

Read through the eulogy out loud at a slower, conversational speed. Then, once you feel comfortable, practice presenting in front of others. If you know the eulogy thoroughly, you’ll be confident and seen as someone who is talking from the heart.

Quality Over Quantity

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Hopefully, these tips will help you craft a beautiful eulogy. One final piece of advice, and perhaps the most important, is to remember that quality is greater than quantity. A 5-minute eulogy that expresses your sincerest feelings and honors the life lived is better than a eulogy that feels long-winded and possibly rambles on.

Your loved one impacted so many lives, and those grieving will need words of hope and comfort as they start to finalize the reality of their loss. Use memories, fun stories, inspirational passages, and real emotion to remember your loved one the way they deserve.

Top 12 Country Songs for a Celebration of Life Service

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

“A good country music song takes a page out of somebody’s life and puts music to it.” – Conway Twitty

According to well-known grief expert, counselor, and author Dr. Alan Wolfelt, music is an important element of a meaningful funeral because it “help[s] us access our feelings…think about our loss.” Music is a window to the soul. We all know a song that particularly touched our heart, brought tears to our eyes or joy to our spirit. Music takes us to a place mere words never can. It can be an essential tool in our grief journeys.

Countless people across the world are country music fans, and they consider the genre a big part of their everyday life. For that reason, we have put together these top 12 country songs. Whether you need a grief playlist or are planning a funeral and need inspiration, this list is worth checking out. Of course, if you are planning a funeral for a loved one, the more connection you or your loved one has to a song, the better it will be for a celebration of life. But if you are looking for ideas, please review this list and see if any of these songs meet your needs.

12. I Hope You Dance (Lee Ann Womack)

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle  for the path of least resistance
I hope you dance

Over time, this would become Lee Ann Womack’s signature song. It won the Country Music Association’s and Academy of Country Music’s awards for Song of the Year as well as a Grammy Award for Best Country Song of the Year. The song calls us to be active in the stories of our lives and to take the opportunities before us to find hope and new life.

11. Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)

I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

Released in August 2004, this song went on to be the 2005 Grammy Award winner for Best Country Male Vocal Performance and the Best Country Vocal Performance. The original music video prominently featured McGraw’s relationship with his father, who had died of brain cancer. No matter whether you are grieving or grieving and planning a funeral, this song is worth a look.

10. Temporary Home (Carrie Underwood)

This was just a stop on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know
This was my temporary home

This lovely ballad was co-written by Carrie Underwood and inspired by her belief that Earth is our temporary home. One day, heaven awaits those who truly believe in God. This song is beautiful in its melody and message. When making selections for a celebration of life, choose music that would be meaningful to the lost loved one but also to those gathered to mourn. Music helps us realize and release our emotions, and for a funeral service to be a healing experience, mourners must be invited to express their grief.

9. If I Had Only Known (Reba McEntire)

So unaware I foolishly believed
That you would always be there
But then there came a day
And I turned my head and you slipped away

In this powerful song, the longing in the singer’s voice draws the listener in as she reflects on all the things she would have done or said if only she’d known what was coming. Even if death is not a surprise to us, we may still feel a sense of shock or disbelief when it occurs. Perhaps, we even wish we’d done some things differently. This song perfectly illustrates our natural desire to turn back time and say things unsaid or do things undone.

8. There’ll be You (Faith Hill)

In my heart
There will always be a place for you for all my life
I’ll keep a part of you with me
And everywhere I am, there you’ll be

Nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, this hit song dips and soars, inviting us to join in the emotional journey. Faith Hill’s melodic tones perfectly express the deep feelings of gratitude we have toward those who give us strength, steadfastness, and love throughout our lives. The words “I’ll keep a part of you with me” are perfect for those who are mourning, as we will always carry the memory of a lost loved one within us.

7. Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Patsy Cline)

When my feeble life is o’er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy Kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore

A beloved hymn with a long history, this Patsy Cline recording of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is beautiful and touching. The song is a statement and a prayer. It calls the listener to trust in God during times of grief and struggle. Though we may not understand why a death has occurred, this song gives hope that God is with us. Patsy Cline’s rendition is dear to the hearts of many, and it provides an avenue for us to express our emotions.

6. Angels Among Us (Alabama)

Oh, I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above

If you are familiar with country music, you’ve likely heard of the band Alabama. They became known for their unique blend of country music and southern rock with elements of gospel and pop. To date, they are the most awarded band in country music history. This 1993 hit song is exceptionally versatile and has been used for many different types of events. It beautifully portrays the goodness in people and how every person can be an angel in disguise to someone around them.

5. Go Rest High on That Mountain (Vince Gill)

Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve

Inspirational and emotional, this Grammy Award-winning song was originally written as a tribute to Vince Gill’s brother, who passed away from a heart attack. Vince Gill would later state, “All I wanted to do was grieve for him and celebrate his life.” The song talks about the pain we feel when lose someone we love but couples that pain with hope, reflecting on the joy that comes from being with God.

4. The Dance (Garth Brooks)

Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Well known in country music circles, “The Dance” is one of the most beloved country songs. The song is soft and poignant throughout, beginning with a beautiful piano introduction. The lyrics are simple but relatable, exploring the relationship between pain and risk. When we love people, we are taking a risk because one day we will lose them. But if we turn away out of fear, then we miss the dance of life.

3. Daddy’s Hands (Holly Dunn)

If I could do things over, I’d live my life again
and never take for granted the love in daddy’s hands

Written as a Father’s Day gift, “Daddy’s Hands” became Holly Dunn’s breakout song, and later, her signature hit. The lyrics are sweet and simple, beautifully portraying the love between a father and his child. With its open lyrics, either a son or daughter could use the song as the perfect tribute for a father or father figure.

2. One More Day (Diamond Rio)

I didn’t ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply asked for one more day with you

Following several tragic events that occurred in 2001 – namely 9/11, the Oklahoma State plane crash, and the death of Dale Earnhardt – “One More Day” became a song of mourning and healing. Diamond Rio drummer, Brian Prout, said that it was very special, knowing that the song had an “impact on someone’s life and helped in a tough time of healing and hope.” The desire for more time with our lost loved ones is universal. This song helps us touch on those emotions and express them in a healthy way.

1. When I Get Where I’m Going (Brad Paisley, featuring Dolly Parton)

But when I get where I’m going
And I see my maker’s face
I’ll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace

Featuring the vocal harmony of Dolly Parton, this inspirational song carries a two-fold focus. In part, the lyrics paint a picture of wonder and joy awaiting those who have left this earth and an exhortation to those still alive that they should rejoice that their loved one is in heaven. But on the other hand, the song also acknowledges the pain we experience when those we love are gone and the way that we miss them deeply. Bittersweet and beautiful, this song is well worth considering for a meaningful celebration of life.

To listen to the entire playlist, click here.

Top 10 Hymns for a Funeral Ceremony

By Meaningful Funerals, Music

Music is an important element of a funeral ceremony because it helps us to process feelings that are difficult to put into words. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt tells us, music imprints itself on our hearts more than any other experience in life. For people of faith, these feelings are often best expressed in hymns, which are songs of devotion or praise to God. If you are looking for timeless songs of faith to honor the life of a loved one, you may want to consider using one of these 10 beautiful hymns.

10. It is Well With My Soul (written by Horatio Gates Spafford, 1873)

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Spafford’s devout hymn was composed in the midst of great tragedy. After sending his family ahead of him on a boat to England, he received a telegram from his wife informing him that their ship had sunk in the Atlantic and that his four daughters had all passed away. In the aftermath of the event, Spafford wrote one of the most memorable of all hymns. Devoid of bitterness, the song is a testament to the level of Spafford’s faith even in the worst of times. His firm belief in the return of the Lord, vividly described as a day when the clouds will be “rolled back as a scroll,” is a beautiful sentiment that and reminds Christian believers of the true home where loved ones reside.

9. Great is Thy Faithfulness (written by Thomas O. Chisolm, 1923)

“‘Great is Thy faithfulness!’ ‘Great is Thy faithfulness!’
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ Lord, unto me!”

After the loss of a loved one, people often experience disorientation and confusion. How do we respond to loss, and how do we find a way to continue to live our lives? So much changes when a loved one passes away, and the natural response is to look for something to cling to. The words of this 20th century hymn provide a reminder of the things that are constant in the world. People of faith will find great comfort in singing, “Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not, / As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.” While nothing can take away the pain of loss, this hymn reminds the mourner that some things in life always stay the same.

8. I Need Thee (written by Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry, 1872)

“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.”

“Every hour I need thee.” Not monthly, weekly, or daily. Hourly. The speaker requires the assistance of the Lord in every activity and situation to see it through to completion. Every step of the journey is difficult, and requires the presence of God. A cry of devotion in times of hardship, this 19th century favorite touches on themes of perseverance, faith, suffering, and comfort. For funeral attendees, it can be viewed as a request for God’s guidance through every stage of the grief journey. The knowledge of God’s presence is an encouragement to mourners as they prepare for a new way of life and set out on the road to healing.

7. Abide With Me (written by Henry Francis Lyte, 1847)

“Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”

Faced with tuberculosis and the knowledge of his impending death, the 54-year-old Henry Francis Lyte used his time of trial as an opportunity to write one of the most beautiful and well-loved of all hymns. Not surprisingly, it has become a popular choice for spiritual funerals. The fact that Lyte was so close to death’s door makes this reflection on mortality and his personal relationship with God all the more powerful. But the song appeals not only to those nearing the end of their lives, but also to mourners who are facing the end of a certain way of life: life with their loved one. Funeral audiences can identify with Lyte’s heartfelt request for God to stay with him as “the darkness deepens.”

6. ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (written by Louisa Stead, 1882)

“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
…to know, Thus saith the Lord.”

Like most of the hymns on this list, this 19th century classic gives mourners a source of stability, a rock to lean on in times of hardship. Funeral audiences can find peace of mind in the knowledge that the stress, fear, and doubt that often accompany a loss are in the hands of a higher power. Stead suggests that there is no need to hold on to anything or to assume a heavy burden. Our sole responsibility is “Just from Jesus simply taking, / life, and rest, and joy, and peace.” While this assurance does not eradicate the pain of loss, it does provide some comfort and can serve to alleviate the irrational guilt, frustration, and stress that people often wrestle with on the road to recovery.

5. Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer (written by William Williams, 1745)

“Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand.”

William Williams frames his most famous hymn in terms of a journey. Throughout all three stanzas, he asks God to guide him on his course. In the first stanza, he is a pilgrim wandering through a barren land. In the second, he uses imagery from Exodus 13, asking God to bring fire and a pillar of cloud to lead the way. And in the third, he is traveling across the Jordan to get to the land of Canaan. All three images correlate to the path that the mourner takes on his grief journey. Williams’ steadfast reliance on God during times of painful and frightening transition is relatable to mourners, making this three-and-a-half-century-old hymn as timely and relevant as the day it was written.

4. In the Sweet By and By (written by Sanford Fillmore Bennett, 1868)

“There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.”

An obvious choice for inclusion in any collection of comforting hymns, this hopeful and faith-driven song communicates a sense of peace to the listener by drawing upon imagery of another, happier land. For funeral audiences, the song’s use of the image of a faraway shore implies that loved ones are at peace with the Lord. While this knowledge doesn’t take away the pain that mourners feel, it offers some light during a difficult time. Bennett claims that after death, “our spirits shall sorrow no more, / Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.”  This emphasis on rest and peace encourages loved ones and provides them with inner strength as they work through their grief.

3. Amazing Grace (written by John Newton, 1779)

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.”

Probably the most famous of all hymns, this song of redemption penned by a slave-trader-turned-abolitionist has captured the hearts of countless Christians. While certain stanzas dealing with sin and repentance may seem less suited to a funeral audience, the song’s reputation as a sort of anthem of Christianity makes it a great choice for any religious event. And there’s no doubt that the final stanza, with its beautiful depiction of the afterlife, will speak directly to the concerns of mourners. Amazing Grace taps into the essence of what it means to believe in God, and the universal love that believers bestow on it indicate that it is a powerful representation of the faith. For a funeral ceremony, you may want to consider singing at least a few stanzas of this masterpiece.

2. I’ll Fly Away (written by Albert E. Brumley, 1929)

“Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away.”

This extremely popular gospel song speaks to our desire for peace. Brumley views death as a time of joy and rest, as opposed to this life, which he describes as “shadows,” “prison bars,” and “weary days.” By framing life’s transience in a positive light, the song encourages us to see the full scope of the drama, the larger picture. The troubles and pains of this life are but a tiny moment in time compared to the eternal land that awaits the speaker.

The upbeat melody conveys not only joy and peace, but also confidence and steadfastness: “I’ll fly away” is not spoken as a mere possibility to be entertained, but as a reality that the speaker is fixated upon with absolute conviction. To sing this familiar gospel song in a funeral setting is to feel the pain of absence while simultaneously receiving the assurance that the spirit of a loved one has “flown away” to be with the Lord.

1. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (written by Anthony J. Showalter and Elisha Hoffman, 1887)

“What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”

When it comes to comforting hymns, this beautiful song of surrender is unmatched. These three stanzas, accompanied by a simple refrain, contain everything that you could want in a song for a religious funeral: a gorgeous melody, a modest length, and reassuring words of peace. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is to religious hymns what Psalm 23 is to religious writing. It is a perfect lyrical distillation of the human soul’s devotion to God. For mourners faced with the emotional exhaustion that accompanies the loss of a loved one, it’s a blessing to hear that one can lean on the everlasting arms of God and rest “safe and secure from all alarms.” The theme of security applies equally well to those who are living and to those who have passed on. God’s love and peace is available in the here and now, as well as in the hereafter.

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