How to Choose Music for a Funeral

Written by Fraser Stewart
Reading time 4 minutes
How to Choose Music for a Funeral image

Choosing the music to be played at the funeral of a loved one is perhaps one of the most challenging choices when arranging a funeral. If the deceased did not leave any guidance on songs they like, it is up to you to think about which song memorialises them. People may choose funeral songs based on the following factors:

Here are some tips to help you choose the right funeral music.

Think About Your Deceased Loved One

While you may think an emotional rap embodies everything you feel about your loved one passing away, Great Aunt Mabel and her friends may not appreciate it at your mum's funeral. Similarly, popular funeral songs may not suit the deceased and their life. Think about your loved one and their life when choosing the music. A song they love may speak to their life or one that made them happy throughout difficult times. You do not always need to choose from pieces about death; there are plenty of songs about change, happiness, or satisfaction with life.

What Tone Do You Want To Set?

If your loved one wanted the service to be a celebration of their life, consider a more upbeat song. One that they enjoyed dancing to (if appropriate) or listening to a lot. If it is a song that many of their friends and family would recognise as hearing regularly, it will make people smile. Some people have picked wedding songs for their loved ones' funerals or silly songs; it does not always need to be a popular funeral song.

Uplifting or religious funeral songs might be appropriate if the deceased was religious. The music may talk about the promise of an afterlife and seeing everyone again. You might choose their favourite hymn or a song that meant a lot to them.

How Many Songs Should I Choose For a Funeral?

It will depend on the type of service you are having. Some cultures or religions do not allow music during funeral services, so check with the funeral home or the religious leader organising the ceremony. The best thing to do is ask how many songs you need to pick and if there are any restrictions or guides that you need to follow when selecting funeral songs. You should consider if you need songs for the following moments

Every service is different, so contact the person in charge of organising the funeral to check how many songs you need to pick.

How to Select The Funeral Songs

The best way to choose funeral songs is to sit down and write down as many pieces as possible that might suit your loved one's funeral. List the following things:

From that list, pick a shortlist that you think would be suitable for the funeral. The size of the shortlist will depend on the number of songs you need to choose. If someone other than you is organising a tribute or anything else that may require songs (a band for the wake or a relative singing at the funeral), then check with them that there is no overlap.

Once you have your shortlist, check all the songs' lyrics to ensure they are appropriate. Often we'll think of a song because of a chorus or a verse that stands out in our minds and feels suitable. But other verses or parts of the music might not be appropriate for the setting. Read through the song's lyrics online to ensure no shocks during the funeral.

Next, consider the range of people who will be at the funeral. You will have family members ranging in age; consider this and backgrounds in attendance when choosing music for a funeral so that you don't offend anyone. You might need to consider the following things too:

Ask For Input

Don't be afraid to ask for input when choosing songs for the funeral. Talk to people who know your loved one well about the songs you are considering. Find out if one perfectly embodies the deceased or is an instant no. At least consult one of their close friends and an immediate family member. This way, you get input from the people who know them well. Our loved ones often have many different sides to their personality that they show to others. By consulting with their loved ones, you can pick songs that speak to them as a whole person.

Popular Funeral Songs

If you are still a bit stuck and want to see some examples of uplifting funeral or mournful songs, we have a list to get you started.

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