Often one of the biggest stressors when planning a funeral can be choosing the funeral songs. Whether for a live performance, accompaniment to a slideshow, or simply to play the song itself. Then you have to decide exactly how the song will be presented in the program. Full lyrics? Just the song title? Or will you have multiple songs but just showcase one? Well, whichever it is, here’s our top 10 fairly contemporary funeral songs that may be just what you’re looking for.
1. To Where You Are
While many may be more familiar with Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” this 2001 song hits all the emotional punches of losing a loved one. The powerfully emotive music and lyrics will give time and the setting for guests to have some real catharsis and undoubtedly shed their tears.
2. How Long Will I Love You
On a lighter note, Ellie Goulding’s 2013 Cover of Waterboy’s song is a soft romantic pop ballad that perfectly captures enduring love, even past death. At 2 and 1/2 minutes, it is the shortest and sweetest funeral song on our list and would fit easily in an 8 Page Program.
3. One More Day
The first country song on our list. I’ll be honest, I had actually never heard this 2001 song by Diamond Rio before today and it hit me. The soft twang of the instruments enhances the feeling of wishing for another day with your loved one while knowing it would never be enough. Beautifully poignant.
4. Supermarket Flowers
Ed Sheeran’s 2017 song might not be for every occasion, but only because it’s specifically about saying goodbye to a mother. This simple piano melody deals with the sorrow and practical life of the ones left behind so, if you are okay with raw emotion and possible sobbing, it will be a very moving and honoring moment of your ceremony.
5. See You Again
The classic country-rock stylings of Carrie Underwood are great for this uplifting 2012 message that death isn’t the end. That while we all carry our loved ones in our hearts the separation isn’t forever. Rather than bogging your guests down with the loss, this funeral song will have them shedding tears of hope and looking forward to a future reunion.
6. Dancing in the Sky
This 2016 R&B ballad by Dani & Lizzy reflects on the hopes for your loved one and what they may be experiencing (peace, joy, freedom) while those left on Earth grapple with the emptiness they left behind. The duet is a nice change up to the normal funeral song genres with powerful harmonies. A wonderful selection for someone lost too early.
7. Dancing with the Angels
Another dancing title, this one by Monk & Neagle. The romantic strings of this 2005 song sweetly carry lyrics that describe an inability to understand why this happened, yet give assurance that at least the departed is in a better place. A very similar message to the previous song, just with a softer melody.
Maroon 5’s 2020 hit may be just what you are wanting for a more relaxed event, especially if the deceased was younger. This song likely wouldn’t work well for an unexpected passing, but for remembering and celebrating all the good times you had with a wonderful friend, perhaps someone who’d had an illness, maybe this fits the bill.
9. Somewhere over the Rainbow
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s medley is the oldest funeral song on our list having been released in 1990 but it’s become a classic for a reason. A perfect and relaxed tribute from the loved one’s point of view. It’s also the longest on our list at nearly 5 minutes and perfect for any slideshow.
10. When I Get Where I’m Going
From Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, this is the most country of country songs, but when you listen you’ll understand why it is impossible to leave it off. Released in 2005, it is sung from the point of view of the departed with a beautiful message to remember the happy times, love without fear, and know that they have left the struggles and darkness of this world behind. With vocals that are understandably incredible and lyrics that are uplifting and evocative, the only way you could go wrong is if it’s a strongly anti-country crowd.
What to do in your funeral program?
Whether you choose one of these funeral songs or have had a special piece of music picked out, the question then becomes what to do in your funeral program? Having the lyrics to a feature song is always a nice touch as it gives the guests words to take back and reflect on, even after the funeral. However, if the music is for a slideshow, lyrics should not be what anyone is focused on. A 4-Page Program would suit those needs just fine, while lyrics for a funeral song usually take up at least a page on their own, in which case you may need a longer 8-Page Program or 12-Page Program.
And finally, here are some Honorable Mentions we left out:
“Seasons of Love” by Rent
“Jealous of the Angels” by Donna Taggart
“I’ll See You Again” by Westlife
“Missing You” by Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Night, Chaka Khan
“Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver