Music plays two important roles in any funeral. Firstly, memorial songs offer a way to celebrate the life of your loved one, expressing feelings that are hard to put into words.
Secondly, your funeral music breaks up the spoken tributes in your service, giving everyone a moment to pause and think about all the special memories that have been shared.
A lot of the families we work with tell us that choosing their funeral playlist was one of the more enjoyable parts of planning their service; it’s a task that often takes you back to happier times. But, with so many options, it can be difficult to narrow it down to just a few songs.
This guide should help get you inspired. Along with a list of popular song suggestions for your funeral, we’ve included a few simple ways that music can honour your loved one and bring to mind your most treasured memories.
Choose songs that hold a special meaning for your family
Make a list of your family’s most significant memories and occasions – you’re sure to find that many have particular songs attached to them. This is often the best source of funeral music, because it gives the service a really personal touch.
Perhaps your loved one and their partner shared a special song – eg. a love song from when they were first dating or the music they danced to at their wedding? You could also choose a lullaby they sang to their children when they were little or the theme song from their favourite movie.
Sharing these musical memories with close family and friends is often one of the most moving parts of any funeral service.
Ask your funeral director for song suggestions
If you are struggling to get started choosing your funeral songs, don’t worry – our experienced funeral directors can point you in the right direction.
This list includes some of the more popular funeral songs, covering many different eras, tastes and styles:
All I Have to Do is Dream – The Everly Brothers
Angel – Sarah McLachlan
Angels – Robbie Williams
Ave Maria – Sarah Brightman
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
Bye Bye Blackbird – Gene Austin
Circle of Life – Elton John
Forever Young – Alphaville
Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holliday
Goodbye My lover – James Blunt
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel) – Billy Joel
Memories – Barbra Streisand
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
My Way – Frank Sinatra
Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland
Paper Doll – Mills Brothers
Pennies from Heaven – Bing Crosby
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Stay with Me – Sam Smith
Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
The Prayer – Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion
The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand
Time to say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
Unforgettable – Nat “King” Cole
We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
When You’re Smiling – Louis Armstrong
You’ll be in My Heart – Phil Collins
You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
Step back in time
What time of life was most significant to your loved one? Using this idea as a guide, you can easily look up what music defined that era, or was most popular at the time. Were they teenagers during 60s Beatlemania or did they love to belt out an 80s power ballad? Including something from the past can be a powerful way for family and friends to remember the happy times they shared with the departed.
This timeline of music might remind you of songs (and memories) you had long forgotten.
Try something traditional
If faith is an important part of your family or community culture, including some traditional hymns, prayers or poems amongst your funeral songs can help mourners find comfort during a difficult time. Singing or speaking familiar words together can often be a very healing experience.
Create a funeral playlist on Spotify
Music streaming services, such as Spotify, offer a handy way to listen to a lot of potential funeral music options, then save them to a playlist as you go. If you don’t already have an account, you can make use of the free or paid subscriptions and download the app to your smartphone or tablet. Your funeral playlist can then be easily played through your mobile device.
NB: It is important to talk with your funeral director or venue staff about your funeral music plans – you’ll need to know ahead of time what format (ie. USB stick, Spotify playlist, CD, etc.) is best for the systems available at the funeral venue. If possible, it is also a good idea to test your funeral music selection ahead of time. This makes sure everything runs as smoothly as possible on the day.
For expert advice and guidance on choosing memorial songs, or any other aspect of planning your service, call Logan Funerals – we’re available any time of the day (or night) on ph: (07) 3341 4111.