Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Editor
Some families are too grief-stricken or overwhelmed with other matters to plan funeral music. In that case, our parish musicians and Pastor can choose music that is personalized and prayerful.
This guide is set up in seven parts:
- Guidelines for selecting funeral music.
- Music titles list.
- Music from the parish hymnal.
- Music not from the parish hymnal.
- Music videos.
- Inappropriate sacred music.
- Diocesan policy regarding popular, secular, favorite or recorded music.
1. Guidelines for selecting music
If you decide to choose funeral music, choose one psalm and about four to five other sacred pieces from the lists that follow. The organist / music director will place what you have chosen at the best time during the funeral Mass. Popular, secular, favorite and recorded music may not be done at the funeral Mass. See more on section E of this guide regarding popular music.
If you have chosen funeral music for a previous family death, you might be tempted to make the same choices again, especially for a spouse. We discourage this practice. Each person should be accorded individual honor and recognition. Though some pieces may be the same, family funerals should not be exact duplicates; the people we treasure deserve to be remembered individually.
- Gathering song.
- Responsorial Psalm (must be from the scripture psalm list).
- Song at the Preparation of the Gifts.
- Communion song.
- Closing song
Other sacred songs can be used during the prelude time while the assembly gathers. The funeral planner will help place the songs at the best times.
2. Music titles list
Responsorial psalms (Select at least one.)
Only a psalm from scripture may be chosen as the response to the first reading. Other psalms listed here may be chosen for other parts of the liturgy.
- “Happy Are They” (Porter)
- “I Long For You O Lord” (Dameans)
- “In God Alone” (Haas)
- “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (Baker)
- “The Lord Is My Shepherd” (Alstott)
- “My Shepherd Is The Lord” (Gelineau)
- “On Eagle’s Wings” (Joncas)
- “Shelter Me O God” (Hurd)
- “Shepherd Me, O God” (Haugen)
- “Shepherd of My Heart” (O’Brien)
- “To You, O Lord, I Lift My Soul” (Haugen)
- “You Are Near” (Schutte)
- “You Will Show Me the Path of Life” (Haugen)
3. Music from the parish hymnal
- “Amazing Grace” (traditional)
- “Be Not Afraid” (Dufford)
- “Blest Are They” (Haas)
- “Come To Me, O Weary Traveler” (Moore)
- “Covenant Hymn” (Cooney)
- “Eye Has Not Seen” (Haugen) *choir favorite*
- “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” (Landry) *
- “Hallelujah” (Cohen) *choir favorite*
- “The Hand of God Shall Hold You” (Haugen) *choir favorite*
- “Hosea” (Norbet)
- “How Can I Keep From Singing? ” (traditional)
- “How Great Thou Art”
- “I Am The Bread of Life (I Will Raise You Up) ” (Toolan)
- “I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say” (traditional)
- “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Haas)
- “Jerusalem, My Destiny” (Cooney)
- “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (Miller)
- “Like A Shepherd” (Dufford)
- “The Lord Is My Hope” (Ridge)
- “The Love of the Lord” (Joncas)
- “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” (“Battle Hymn of the Republic”)
- “Only This I Want” (Schutte)
- “The People of God” (O’Brien)
- “Prayer of St. Francis (Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) ” (Temple)
- “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”
- “Shall We Gather At The River” (traditional)
- “Sing A New Song” (Schutte)
- “Sing With All the Saints in Glory” (Beethoven) (Joyful Joyful…)
- “We Shall Rise Again” (Young)
- “We Walk By Faith” (Haugen)
- “When The Saints Come Marching In” (traditional)
- “With A Shepherd’s Care” (Chepponis)
- “You Are Mine” (Haas) *choir favorite*
4. Music not in the parish hymnal
(These songs are very appropriate for funerals. Speak with the planner about where to place them.)
- “Angels Calling” *choir favorite*
- “Because the Lord Is My Shepherd” (Walker)
- “Bless the Lord, My Soul/ Shenandoah” (Haas) *choir favorite*
- “Come To Me” (Norbet)
- “Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled” (Haas)
- “The Guardian’s Farewell” (Haas)
- “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Sopor)
- “I Will Never Forget You” (Isaiah 49) (Landry)
- “In Ev’ry Age (Whitaker) ” *choir favorite*
- “It Is Well With My Soul” (Spafford/Bliss)
- “Journeys Ended, Journeys Begun” (Norbet)
- “Just A Closer Walk with Thee” (traditional)
- “Just Like A Deer” (Joncas)
- “Lights of the City” (Murphey)
- “My Song Will Be For You Forever” (Haas) *choir favorite*
- “O Lord, The Guardian of My Heart” (Browning)
- “Panis Angelicus” (Franck)
- “Safety Harbor” (Cooney)
- “Songs of the Angels” (Schutte)
- “Song of Farewell” (Schutte)
- “Take Me Home” (Haas)
- “There Are Many Rooms” (Lawton) *choir favorite*
- “These Alone Are Enough” (Schutte) *choir favorite*
- “This Alone” (Manion)
- “This Day in New Jerusalem” (Bessert)
- “Valleys of Green” (Schutte)
- “We Will Rise Again” (Haas)
- “When Grief Is Raw” (Haas) *choir favorite*
Italian heritage songs
- “Non Ti Scordar (deCurtis)
- “Resta Con Noi
5. Music videos
From the parish hymnal
Not from the parish hymnal
(Instrumental version / see lyrics below)
Italian heritage songs
Lyrics for songs with no videos
“Bless The Lord, My Soul / Shenandoah Melody”
O bless the Lord who fills my soul, O bless God’s holy name
Remember all the many blessings,
God forgives and heals our wounds, crowning all with mercy.
Who satisfies us all with goodness, as long as we will live;
Renews our youth just like an eagle
Giving justice to the poor, granting peace forever.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, loving always.
God never haunts us when we falter,
Always healing, always near – giving us new freedom.
The steadfast love that is of God is here now and forever.
This covenant will be the promise,
If we serve and do God’s will. Bless the Lord, my soul.
“I Long For You” (Dameans)
I long for you O Lord; with all my soul, I thirst for you!
God, my God, it is you I seek; for you my soul is thirsting
Like a dry and weary land, my spirit longs for you.
I have sought your presence Lord, to see your power and glory-
Lord, your love means more than life; I will sing your praise.
Through the night I remember you, for you have been my savior-
In the shadow of your wings, I will shout for joy.
“Just Like A Deer” (Joncas)
When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God?
Just like a deer longs for the stream, so do I long for you my God-
My heart and soul are thirsting for you- longing for you, my God.
6. Inappropriate sacred music
“Here I Am, Lord” is a beautiful hymn, but its lyrics reflect the call to ministry and service rather than the mystery of life, death and resurrection. So it is not appropriate for the funeral service.
Seasonal songs for Christmas or Holy Week are not appropriate for funerals. They celebrate special moments of the Church year and not death and new life.
7. Diocesan policy regarding popular,
secular, favorite or recorded music
“As in all liturgies, music is sung prayer and plays an integral role in the Funeral Mass. It allows us to express our faith, love and hope, drawing us closer in unity to our faith. While favorite songs that are popular or secular may hold special meaning to the deceased and the family, this type of music is not appropriate for the Mass nor is the use of recorded music.” (Guidelines for the Diocese of Syracuse)
Popular, secular, favorite and recorded music can highlight personal memories or reflect significant moments in relationships shared with the deceased. The funeral Mass celebrates much more than personal memories and relationships. It celebrates hope and resurrection. It is a time to commend the deceased person to God — to celebrate his or her homecoming, and to remember God’s promise never to abandon us.
Appropriate funeral music lyrics are based in scripture and are meant to celebrate the sacredness of life and death. The funeral is a time to strengthen the faith of those gathered, to know the consolation of the promise of eternal life and to experience the hope that comes from God’s love and welcoming embrace.
Popular, secular, favorite or recorded music is more appropriate for use during the wake, family private viewing, at the graveside, at funeral receptions, or during private times.
It is important to never diminish the power and sacred dignity of the funeral/ memorial service in Church.
Secular music themes for wake services, graveside or receptions
“Someone to Remember Me”
Theme: The lyrics speak of how deeply the deceased has affected your life and your own wishes to be remembered as well as he or she is being remembered.
“I’ll See You Again”
Theme: There is hope that you will see your loved one again who is gone but never forgotten; even though you did not have the right words while he/she was alive, your hope to see that person again sustains you now.
“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”
Theme: I long to experience your presence again; I seek the strength to say goodbye.
(From the Disney movie “Quest for Camelot”)
Theme: This is a prayer for safety and guidance, a world free of violence but filled with justice, hope, peace, fraternity where every child can find love.
“To Where You Are”
Theme: Your cherished presence remains with me, even from above. The relationship of love we had together will live on.
“Time To Say Goodbye “
Theme: You are with me when I am alone and without words; I desire to travel together with you to places that no longer exist.
“Jealous of the Angels”
Theme: The deceased person is now one of the angels; it is not our place to question God’s desire to have the deceased person close to God’s throne.
“You Raise Me Up”
Theme: Your presence brings me strength.
“Think of Me”
Theme: Remember me when you have the moments to do so after we have said our earthly goodbye.
Theme: I made my own rules, followed my own creed and lived my life fully as my own person.
“Over The Rainbow”
Theme: Life is better is another world.
“Wind Beneath My Wings”
Theme: Even though you walked in my shadow, you are my hero; you give me the strength and inspiration to raise me up.
“Tears in Heaven”
Theme: Would you know me and would our relationship continue in heaven? (This song says that you do not belong in heaven, contrary to what our faith tells us.)
Theme: The only comfort for the difficulties, darkness and destruction of this life is to be carried away by the arms of an angel.
“Que Sera Sera”
Theme: Throughout my life when I wondered about what would happen to me, my mother and sweetheart responded “whatever will be will be.”