20 Best Funeral Songs and Memorial Songs
Music for a funeral service can be used for many reasons. For one, the act of playing music for a community can quite literally break an uncomfortable silence or help provide a distraction from people’s thoughts and grief. More often, funeral songs can help a community grieve together and allow for the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and feelings that only music can bring.
When it comes to picking funeral songs or memorial songs, there are a variety of genres that you can choose from. Whether you’re looking for something from a prominent country singer like Garth Brooks or Carrie Underwood, or a timeless classic like Mariah Carey or Luther Vandross, there are countless of funeral songs that can be used to help commemorate a loved one.
As with every other aspect of the funeral services, it’s best to find a funeral song that is personal to the bereaved, friends, and family or perhaps a memorial song by a singer or band that was a particular favorite of the loved one. That being said, when it comes to funeral songs, there are many to choose from that can create the right tone for a funeral service.
There is no right or wrong song to play at a funeral. You should think about which funeral songs feel right to you and your family members, as songs can be a powerful factor when processing grief. Don't be shy about asking others for their feedback about potential funeral songs.
Many people also like to create memorial websites, where they can easily share funeral information with friends and family members and collect photos and stories.
Here are 20 of the most popular funeral songs that you can use for a memorial service for a loved one:
20. “Bye Bye” by Mariah Carey
Genre: R&B, Hip-Hop
This beautiful song by Mariah Carey is easy for many people to relate to after losing someone close to them. The song conveys both feelings of longing, as well as some sense of peace. In the chorus, she sings, "And I'm sure you reached a better place / And still I'd give the world to see your face / Me right here, next to you / But it's like you're gone too soon / Now the hardest thing to do is say / Bye, bye."
19. “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle
Genre: Pop, Christian
While not originally written as a funeral song, "Butterfly Kisses" is commonly chosen to be played at funerals, especially after the loss of a child. The song is sung from the perspective of a father watching his daughter grow up. It shares a deep appreciation for the time he had with his daughter and the difficulty of giving her away. In the song, she's being given away at her wedding, but the lines can also strike a chord with those who have lost a daughter: "Oh with all that I've done wrong / I must have done something right / To deserve her love every morning / And butterfly kisses / I couldn't ask god for more, man, this is what love is / I know I've gotta let her go, but I'll always remember / Every hug in the morning, and butterfly kisses."
18. “Nightingale” by Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato wrote Nightingale after losing a friend to suicide as a teenager, giving it a deeply personal feel. She has mentioned in interviews that she feels that he's her guardian angel, and this comes across in the chorus of the song: "Can you be my nightingale? / Sing to me / I know you're there / You could be my sanity / Bring me peace / Sing me to sleep / Say you'll be my nightingale."
17. “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” by Alicia Keys
"Like You'll Never See Me Again" was written as a love song, but it's message centers on appreciating every moment you have with someone, because you never know when it could be the last. Lines like, "I don't wanna forget the present is a gift / And I don't wanna take for granted / The time you may have here with me / Cause Lord only knows another day here's not really guaranteed" make the song a popular funeral song as well, reminding everyone to appreciate the time they have.
16. “Sad Song” by We The Kings featuring Elena Coats
In a collaboration between We The Kings and Elena Coats, "Sad Song" examines the deep feeling of loss after the death of someone close to you. Many people can relate to the feelings the song shares: "Without you, I feel broke / Like I'm half of a whole / Without you, I've got no hand to hold / Without you, I feel torn / Like a sail in a storm / Without you, I'm just a sad song / I'm just a sad song."
15. “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth
Written about being far away from someone you love, "One Call Away" can also feel deep and meaningful at a funeral or memorial service. As a memorial song, many people interpret the chorus, "I'm only one call away / I'll be there to save the day / Superman got nothing on me / I'm only one call away," as reminding listeners that they can still reach their loved one through prayer.
14. “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith
As Sam Smith's first single in his debut album, "Lay Me Down" is about someone who the singer is desperately missing. He starts the song on a longing, yet hopeful, note, singing, "Yes I do, I believe / That one day I will be where I was / Right there, right next to you / And it's hard, the days just seem so dark / The moon, the stars are nothing without you."
13. “Hello” by Adele
While the hit song "Hello" was written about a lost romance, many people find that it makes a powerful funeral or memorial song. Soulful lines like, "They say that time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing" and "Hello from the other side / I must've called a thousand times / To tell you, I'm sorry for everything that I've done" add a lot of deep emotion, but some people find that the song only adds to their sadness.
12. “God’s Will” by Martina McBride
On Martina McBrides 2013 album, Martina, God's Will tells the story of a young boy who was dealt a bad hand, but continued to look out for everyone else. In the last verse of the song, she sings, "Before they moved to California / His mother said, they didn't think he'd live / And she said each day that I have him / Well, it's just another gift / And I never got to tell her / That the boy showed me the truth / In crayon red, on notebook paper, he'd written / Me and God love you." The song can have a powerful impact, especially at the funeral of a child. Instead of focusing on the loss, it encourages listeners to focus on the beauty of the time they had with their loved one.
11. “River Of Tears” by Alessia Cara
"River of Tears" is about the loss of a romance, but many people find the song comforting in the context of a funeral because of the message of hope at the end of the song. While the song starts by sharing her deep pain caused by the loss and the tears that she'd cried, the chorus provides hope for her future, starting with: "I'm going down, and you have watched me drown / In a river of tears, lost beneath the stream / Under the waves, I've found the strength to say / The river of tears has washed me clean."
10. “Well Done” by Deitrick Haddon
Genre: Soul, Gospel
In "Well Done," Deitrick Haddon sings about his desire to make it to Heaven. Powerfully sung lines like, "When this life is over / I just wanna have eternal life, Oh wanna hear Him say / Well done / Well done / Well done / You can come on in." Especially at a religious funeral, the song can give friends and family members a feeling of peace as they picture their loved one being accepted into Heaven.
9. “A Mother’s Prayer” by K. Michelle
Genre: R&B, Soul
"A Mother's Prayer" is about a mother wishing the best for her child and wanting to ensure their strong bond. It's often chosen as a song for a child's funeral, as the meanings of the lyrics can be interpreted to be about wanting the best for your child in Heaven. Lines like, "And even though I'm not there to tuck you in every day, I'm not far away / This is what a mother prays" can help families feel closer to a child they've lost.
8. “Purpose” by Justin Bieber
Pop star Justin Bieber wrote this piano ballad about his relationship with God, and the heartfelt lyrics help many people feel encouragement after losing a loved one. In the chorus, he sings, "And you've given me the best gift / That I've ever known / You give me purpose everyday / You give me purpose in every way." For those wanting to take meaning from a loss, the song can feel powerful and motivating.
7. “Drink A Beer” by Luke Bryan
Country singer Luke Bryan was motivated to record "Drink A Beer" after experiencing the loss of two siblings. In the song, he's upset and confused about losing someone, and comforts himself by drinking a beer at the end of pier, which he used to do with the person he lost. He sings, "Sometimes the greater plan / Is kinda hard to understand / Right now it don't make sense / I can't make it all make sense / So I'm gonna sit right here / On the edge of this pier / Watch the sunset disappear / And drink a beer."
6. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton wrote "Broken Halos" with Mike Henderson on the same day that he lost a childhood friend to cancer. The song won a Grammy for Best Country song in 2018. The first chorus gives many people a feeling of comfort, focusing on how their loved ones have moved on to help others: "Angels come down from the heavens / Just to help us on our way / Come to teach us, then they leave us / And they find some other soul to save."
5. “Hold Back The River” by James Bay
Genre: Folk Rock, Soul
"Hold Back the River" is a powerful, relatable song about missing someone. In the chorus, James Back sings, "Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes / Hold back the river, so I / Can stop for a minute and see where you hide / Hold back the river, hold back"
4. “Let Her Go” by Passenger
Genre: Folk Rock, Indie Rock Let her go is a melancholic song about missing someone and not appreciating what you had until it's gone. The chorus ends with, "Only know you've been high when you're feeling low / Only hate the road when you're missing home / Only know you love her when you let her go / And you let her go..." The song is unlikely to lighten the mood, but many people feel that the lyrics and tone speak to them.
3. “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross
"Dance With My Father" is a popular song selected for a father's funeral. The song talks about the fond memories Luther has of his father, and how much he and his mother miss him. The chorus sings, "If I could get another chance / Another walk / Another dance with him / I'd play a song that would never ever end / How I'd love love love / To dance with my father again."
2. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
Genre: Pop, Rap "See You Again" quickly became a popular funeral song after being featured in the Fast and the Furious franchise's send off to actor Paul Walker after he died in a car crash. The song acknowledges the depth of the loss, but shares a message of hope, that you will see your loved one again: "It's been a long day without you, my friend / And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again / We've come a long way from where we began /Oh, I'll tell you all about it when I see you again."
1. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
Genre: Soft Rock
"Tears in Heaven" has been one of the best known funeral songs for decades. Eric Clapton wrote the song after losing his 4-year-old son in a tragic accident in 1991. The song is somber, but also conveys a message of strength and perseverance with lines like, "I must be strong and carry on / ‘Cause I know I don't belong here in heaven."
If you're planning a funeral, consider creating a free memorial website to share information with friends and family: