The wonderful thing about Christian songs in a funeral is that they can be used so diversely. They can simply be a part of the service in a performance or slideshow, or they can be used as a moment of worship, like a hymn, to bring everyone into a shared time of praise. Also the ability to acknowledge the faith of your departed loved one without having to use a centuries-old-hymn is extremely appealing to many. So, here we have ten of our top picks for contemporary Christian funeral songs.
Funeral songs from the perspective of the deceased
1. I Can Only Imagine
Released in 2001, there was barely a person who didn’t become intimately familiar with the instant classic by MercyMe. The hit begins deceptively simple and grows into a powerful anthem of all the possibilities that await us when we meet the Lord. In this context it really is a song from the point of view of your loved one and brings the guests to think about the reality of them being with Jesus at that moment.
2. Heaven’s Now My Home
Though you might be forgiven for thinking this song must have been written in the 80’s or before, this funeral song by Libby Allen was actually released in 2012. Written from the perspective of the deceased, the classic piano melody, reminiscent of decades gone by, conveys their thoughts and feelings to those they left behind.
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3. My Heaven Song
This funeral song, released by Phil Whickam in 2009 is perfectly crafted for a loved one who was looking forward to entering their heavenly home. Whether it be due to illness or age, the truth is for many death is not an unexpected tragedy, but a long awaited end to suffering. Rather than being about the departed, or from them to the ones left behind, this beautiful song is between your loved one and God, conveying what they might have felt before leaving earth.
The newest song on our list, this funeral song by Brittany Price Brooker and Tim Brummel was released in 2022. This lilting melody is a reaffirmation that this life is merely a shadow of our true home. How much better it is to be looking forward to standing on the shores of forever, spending eternity in the arms of our heavenly Father.
5. I Will Rise
When it comes to evoking emotion, the music of this 2008 song by Chris Tomlin really takes you on a journey. From almost melancholy moments where the lyrics reach for peace in the darkness to the rising hope, faith, and ultimately the victorious finale proclaiming the angels chorus as we enter Heaven. You’ll appreciate every second of the full cathartic experience this funeral song provides.
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Funeral songs from the perspective of those left behind
Sometimes all the platitudes and reassurances seem like white noise in the face of our grief, and nothing seems like it will ever be right again. This song released by MercyMe in 2004 perfectly encompasses the lack of understanding God’s plan and the void that your loved one left behind. Being a Christian doesn’t make the hurt disappear and even as we rejoice for our loved one, sometimes all we can do for ourselves is to cling to Christ just for the strength to make it through another day.
7. Jealous of the Angels
A more traditional feel from this harmonious 2013 ballad by Donna Taggart. Even the strongest Christian isn’t necessarily prepared for a goodbye and this song gives a glimpse into the struggle of coming to terms with the void left behind by a loved one. A lovely choice for any funeral musical selection, but perhaps particularly for a live performance.
8. Save A Place For Me
Matthew West’s slightly uptempo, 2008 soft rock number is an intimate letter to a departed loved one. The beginning in particular describes the truth of having to wake up every day only to say goodbye again as it hasn’t sunk in yet; something anyone who has lost a loved one can relate with.
From the title, Laura Story’s 2011 song might not immediately register as a funeral song, but the lyrics are a powerful challenge to look deeper, in the dark and hurting times, for what God is trying to do. It will give permission for your guests to pause and confront their anger of confusion; to ask why God allowed this to happen, and hopefully be reminded that the greatest mercies come in the darkest moments of our lives.
10. Scars in Heaven
Regret is something so many experience after losing a loved one. Wasted time, unsaid words, and a realization of how much was taken for granted. But through all of that this 2021 song by Casting Crowns is a reminder that our loved ones hold no such regrets. There is no pain, no sorrow, no hurt of any kind where they are now and the only scars in Heaven are the ones worn by Jesus Christ.
Now, as hard as it may be to choose a piece of music for an occasion like this, there are more decisions to make afterward. Something to think about once you’ve chosen your funeral song(s) is what are you going to do with it? Perhaps it’s a live performance where you can list only the title in your funeral program. However, having the lyrics to a feature funeral song can give the guests words to take back and reflect on, even after the event, in which case you may need a longer program, like an 8-page or 12-page program. Then again, if the song is merely a backdrop for a slideshow, for example, it may not need to be mentioned in the program at all. The important thing is understanding what it is you are wanting your event to be like and what music and materials will help you to get there.
Thy will - Hillary Scott
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) - Chris Rice
Cry out to Jesus - Third Day
See you in Heaven - Guardian