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The 20 Best Songs to Play at a Funeral

Published: February 15, 2024

Music affects us. Whether it makes us laugh from silly lyrics or cry from a meaningful melody, music has the power to make us feel something. Choosing music for a funeral can help set the tone of the service and mirror the spirit of our loved one. Take a look at some of the best and most popular songs played at funerals to inspire your own choices.

The Best Songs to Play for a Loved One’s Funeral

1. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

Originally by Leonard Cohen, the Jeff Buckley cover of this classic song is a frequent fixture at funerals for a reason. Perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever written, it symbolizes something different for everyone who hears it. But for many people, it’s a way to add some peace to a difficult day.

2. “The Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion

Although the song is performed as a prayer to the heavens, “The Prayer” works for non-religious funerals and religious affairs alike. There’s a comfort to the words, as if you’re asking for your loved one to watch over you. It’s a reminder that they’re still there, even if they’re physically no longer walking alongside us.

3. “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran

Since “Supermarket Flowers” came out, it’s been a popular pick for funerals, especially when a mother passes. Sung from the perspective of his mother after her mother died, the song is a message to the one we’ve lost, thanking them for their time with us.

4. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill

Vince Gill dedicated “Go Rest High on That Mountain” to his brother, and the singer perfectly captures the grief that comes after losing someone who means so much to us. But at the same time, it’s hopeful in that the singer hopes that his loved one’s spirit is at peace.

5. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

Many people request that “I Hope You Dance” is played at their funeral as a message to those who remain. It’s a reminder to enjoy the time that we have, to dance, be amazed by the wonders of the world, and live.

6. “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls

As another popular pick that people choose for their own funerals, “Iris” is about choosing love over all else. Through these lyrics, they’re saying that love lives on, even when they’re gone.

7. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle

You might not expect this song to be a popular pick for funerals, but “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian remains a feel-good tune that many want to play for their own services. Funerals can be very somber, but this silly song can make funeral-goers feel a little lighter.

8. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John

Initially performed for Princess Diana’s funeral, “Candle in the Wind” has been playing at services since 1997. This elegant and powerful song is a beautiful homage to someone who the world will always miss.

9. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Though the song was originally made famous by Judy Garland, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” gives the song a softer, somber take, making it a good pick for funeral services. It’s a song of peace and harmony with the world.

10. “Long As I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Long As I Can See the Light” is about a beacon guiding you back home, and for many, it takes on the meaning of going home after the weary journey that is life. It’s a meaningful song to play over a memorial slideshow of the beauty of the life a loved one lived.

11. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

As a story of looking back on a life of self-determination, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is a meaningful tribute for your loved one. Though we all have regrets, there’s something beautiful about coming to the end of a life and looking back with pride at the choices that you made.

12. “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” by Jesse L. Martin

In the musical Rent, “I’ll Cover You” is a love song between two people, Angel and Collins, who found each other in difficult circumstances. “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” is the message that is sung at Angel’s funeral, a story of an eternal love that could never end.

13. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Andrea Bocelli

Originally written for the musical Carousel, Andrea Bocelli’s soothing voice is perfect for a cover of the beautiful “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” In the face of grief, it’s a comfort to feel a loved one still with you, a reminder that you’ll never truly be alone.

14. “From Now On” by Ramin Karimloo

“From Now On” has become a frequently-played song at funerals since The Greatest Showman came out, but Ramin Karimloo’s cover makes it a softer, bluegrass song. With the dulcet tones of Karimloo’s voice, it’s easy to feel a certain comfort listening to him sing.

15. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Perhaps one of the most powerful songs about loss ever written, “I Will Always Love You” could be considered from either the perspective of the deceased or those who remain. Love will always exist, no matter what happens. No loss could take that away.

16. “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith

Losing a loved one can be overwhelming, as captured by “Lay Me Down.” We all wish we had the chance to be by our loved one’s side once more.

17. “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn

Both a song of hope and loss, “We’ll Meet Again” reminds us that our loved ones are never fully gone. To play this at your funeral is to tell your loved one that goodbye is never the end.

18. “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

Perhaps the best part about “A Thousand Years” is that it’s a story of love at all points of life. Playing it at your funeral reminds your loved ones that your love for them will never end, not for a thousand years.

19. “Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga

“Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born is about a love captured for eternity. You’ll never forget the love your loved one gave you and the special moments you spent together.

20. “Fix You” by Coldplay

Written about the passing of a family member, “Fix You” captures the feeling we all have of wishing our loved ones could stay with us forever. We cannot fix loss, but we can take comfort in the lights guiding them home.

Like any aspect of funeral planning, what matters is what mattered to your loved one. If your loved one had a favorite song, something that was meaningful to them, that might be the best choice to play at their funeral. Whether it’s silly, like “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” or more serious, like “The Prayer,” you can’t go wrong if you play something that honors who your loved one was.

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Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home has been serving the families of Fayetteville, North Carolina and surrounding communities since 1930. The funeral home serves families of all faiths with the highest quality funeral, memorial, burial, and cremation services. They are especially proud to serve veterans and members of the military community with respect and dignity. Find more information about the Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home and their services by visiting jerniganwarren.com.
 
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