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Music can be one of the most memorable and poignant parts of a funeral service. So it’s worth spending some time thinking about funeral music or songs that suit the person who has died. 

Here’s some advice to help you choose songs that are suitable for funerals. 

How to choose music for a funeral service 

Follow these tips to choose music that will be a moving part of the service. 

Make it meaningful 

Most funerals include at least a little music. It gives you a chance to personalise the service and celebrate the life of the person who has died. It’s important to choose carefully though because the music you choose will always be associated with the person. 

Perhaps the person who has died had planned their own funeral playlist? Or maybe you know some of their favourite songs? Could these be suitable for their funeral? 

If not, you’ll need to choose the songs yourself. Don’t worry though – you’ll find a list of classic funeral songs below. This should help get you started. 

Don’t worry about the genre 

Modern funerals include a wide mix of music. Unless it’s a very traditional service or music isn’t allowed for religious reasons, you’re free to choose from all sorts of songs. 

A lot of today’s most popular funeral songs are just as moving as classical music or hymns. It’s not uncommon to hear Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Adele or even Monty Python at funerals nowadays. 

Remember, the music is there to pay tribute to the person who has died. So let their personality guide you. 

Strike the right emotion 

Think about the mood you want to create. Would you like the music to be moving, nostalgic or comforting? You can even play funny funeral songs if that’s what the person who has died would have liked. This can be a nice way to say goodbye to someone with a great sense of humour. 

Make sure they’re suitable songs for a funeral 

It’s important to consider the lyrics to funeral songs. Some songs have beautiful music but inappropriate words, so be sure to read them carefully. Unless you’re paying close attention, you might not notice until it’s too late. 

Make sure the lyrics express the feelings you want to get across. Ask yourself: might these words offend people? And are they in line with my beliefs? 

How many songs can you play at a funeral? 

Most funeral services have at least two slots for music – one for entering and one for the exit. You might also be able to play music during a slideshow of photographs or a moment of reflection. 

Funeral entrance music 

This is the music played when people file into the funeral venue. Popular choices include classical pieces and gentle tunes without lyrics. 

Funeral exit music 

Funeral exit music is played when people leave the venue. You might want to choose a favourite song of the person who has died. Or you might want to play a funny or uplifting song to help people focus on happy memories. 

When you’re choosing entrance and exit music for funerals, it can be a good idea to pick songs with different moods. This can create a powerful sense of contrast, which many people appreciate. 

Funeral music ideas 

If you’re looking for inspiration for funeral songs, these ideas might help. 

The UK’s most popular funeral songs 

If you’re stuck for ideas, why not consider some of the UK’s favourite funeral songs? After all, these tunes are popular for a reason. They express the complex emotions we feel when someone has died. 

According to Sunlife, these were among the most-played funeral songs in 2022. 

Frank Sinatra – My Way 

‘My Way’ is a long-standing funeral classic. While the tune feels sad and reflective, the lyrics celebrate a life well lived. It’s especially popular as a funeral exit song. 



Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman – Time to Say Goodbye 

The lyrics to ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ were originally in Italian. We’ve chosen a version by Sarah Brightman and Andrew Bocelli that’s sung in Italian and English. As trained opera singers, they give the song an especially powerful and dramatic feel. 

The song is very famous and has been covered many times. Artists like Katherine Jenkins, Donna Summer and Andre Rieu have released their own takes on the tune. 

It’s quite common to hear ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ at funerals. It was the 4th most popular funeral song in 2022 (SunLife). 



More popular funeral music 

  • Gerry and the Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone 
  • Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings 
  • Tina Turner – Simply the Best 

The UK’s favourite funeral hymns 

If you’re arranging a Christian funeral, you might want to sing some hymns during the service. Most of the time, you can choose which hymns to sing. We’ve listed some of the most popular below. 

Singing as a group can be comforting, so you might want to sing some songs even if it’s a non-religious (secular) funeral. Popular secular songs to sing at a funeral include Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. 

Abide With Me 

‘Abide With Me’ is a popular funeral song. The lyrics were written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1847. They’re usually sung to the tune of ‘Eventide’, which is a tune by the organist William Henry Monk.



Amazing Grace 

‘Amazing Grace’ was written by John Newton in 1772. It has since become one of the world’s most widely performed hymns – and a favourite at funerals.



More popular funeral hymns 

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848) 
  • Jerusalem (William Blake, 1808) 
  • How Great Thou Art (Carl Boberg, 1885) 

Classical funeral music ideas 

If you’d rather not choose pop music, classical pieces are always a safe choice. These traditional funeral songs are some of the most played at UK funerals. 

You’ll find more ideas in our guide to classical music for funerals

The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams 

With its swooping violin melody, ‘The Lark Ascending’ brings to mind the peaceful sound of birdsong. It’s ideal for a moment of personal reflection or prayer.



Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber 

‘Adagio for Strings’ has a stirring and mournful sound. It would make for a powerful choice of music for the funeral exit or entry.



Happy and funny funeral songs 

Funeral music doesn’t have to be sad. Lots of people choose joyful, inspiring or even funny songs to play at funerals. If you believe a funeral service should be a celebration of life, consider some of these uplifting classics. 

For more ideas, check our guide to uplifting funeral songs.

Eric Idle – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life 

This song was made famous by the comedy film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Its lyrics urge us to focus on happy times and try to forget the difficult parts of life. 

‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ is a very popular choice for funerals, especially as a funeral exit song. Be warned, though: the lyrics contain a swear word.



Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World 

‘What a Wonderful World’ is about taking a moment to focus on simple pleasures. It’s performed in a jazz style, which gives it a bittersweet feel.



More ‘celebration of life’ songs 

  • Norman Greenbaum – Spirit in the Sky 
  • Frank Sinatra – After You’ve Gone 
  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow 

Funeral songs for Mum and Dad 

Losing a parent can be very tough, and it can be difficult to put your emotions into words. Here are some well-known funeral songs for mothers and fathers, which might express the feelings you want to get across.

Songs for Mum’s funeral 

Celine Dion – Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word) 

There are lots of popular Celine Dion funeral songs. But ‘Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)’ might be the best choice to say goodbye to Mum. Its lyrics are about appreciating your mother’s love while knowing that one day she’ll be gone.



Elton John – Candle in the Wind 

There are two versions of ‘Candle in the Wind’ with different lyrics. The first was released in 1974, while the second was famously performed at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. The 1997 version is more suitable as a song for Mum’s funeral.



Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were 

Are you looking for Barbra Streisand songs for funerals? With its surging music and nostalgic lyrics, ‘The Way We Were’ would make a fitting send-off for Mum – whether she was a fan or not.



Funeral songs for Dad 

Queen – Who Wants to Live Forever 

Quite a few Queen songs are suitable for a funeral. ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ is a particularly good choice. Its lyrics look at themes of life and death, while the music has a big, stirring rock sound.



Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven 

Eric Clapton wrote this song as a tribute to his son, who died in an accident. It would be just as powerful as a song for Dad’s funeral. ‘Tears in Heaven’ could work well at any point in the funeral.



More funeral songs for parents 

  • Lionel Richie – Goodbye 
  • Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father 
  • Boyz II Men – A Song for Mama 

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash.