Popular and secular music can be comforting because these songs often highlight personal memories or reflect significant moments in the relationships shared with the deceased.
These songs, however, are never appropriate to be included in the funeral Mass because the funeral Mass celebrates much more than memories and relationships — the funeral Mass celebrates hope, resurrection and faith. The funeral is the time when we commend the deceased person to God, when we celebrate his or her homecoming, when we remember the promise that God will never abandon us. Appropriate funeral lyrics are always based in scripture because they are meant to strengthen our faith and celebrate the sacredness of life and death.
Because popular or secular songs highlight personal relationships, memories or the sadness of grief- they are much better suited to times when we are not in church celebrating the funeral Mass. These songs can provide special healing when they are included during the wake, at the graveside, or at funeral receptions. Popular songs can even memorialize those occasions with some artistry and warmth.
It is important not ever to diminish the power and dignity of the funeral service in church. This time should be solely dedicated to helping everyone find strength in faith, know consolation in the promise of eternal life, and experience the hope that comes from knowing God’s love and welcoming embrace to our beloved deceased friend or family member.
Music not based in scripture is simply not appropriate for the funeral liturgy. Here are just a few secular pieces with their themes explained. It is clear that their themes do not reflect a faith dimension in the resurrection. Pieces like this, not based in scripture, though not allowed during the funeral liturgy, can be very appropriate at wakes, graveside services, funeral receptions or for private times of grief.
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.
The Prayer (from the Disney’s “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 (most lyrics in Italian)
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.
My Way
Theme: I made my own rules, followed my own creed, and lived my life fully as my own man.
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”.

Other favorite songs of the deceased

Often, the favorite popular songs of the deceased person help us to remember them. If these songs bring comfort, they can also be played during the wake service, at the cemetery, or during the reception following the funeral and burial.
These songs can help the grieving process by helping us remember tender times and fill us with nostalgia. These songs are always good to listen to during our private times of prayer or when we may be overcome with grief.

Links to other sections of the funeral guide