Best Religious Funeral Songs

What are the best religious songs for a funeral or memorial service?

When selecting the right song for a religious funeral or memorial service, many people often lean towards special or meaningful hymns. However, sometimes people want a more modern song that expresses the same feelings. For that reason, we have come up with a list of some of the best songs for a funeral that have a religious theme or religious references. If you are looking for hymns, please check out the page on traditional funeral songsIt should be noted that some churches have restrictions on what music they will allow to be played. Check with your minister or organist to be sure that the songs you have selected are allowed at your church. Funeral homes do not have such restrictions.

Listed below are some appropriate songs for a religious funeral service. For your convenience, we have compiled the songs in a playlist, making it easy for you to listen to a sample or purchase a song. Additional information about each song, including significant verses and choruses, is provided below the playlist.

Best Songs for a Religious Funeral Service

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All My Tears

“All My Tears” is sung by both Julie Miller and Emmylou Harris. While the Harris version is nice, Miller seems to capture the song a little bit better and it is her version that is linked below. The song is a Christian song about how things are better now that she is in heaven.

Significant Verse:

It don’t matter where you bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

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Angel

This song is slightly depressing with lyrics like “there’s always one reason / to feel not good enough,” “there’s vultures and thieves at your back” and “you keep on building the lie / that you make up for all that you lack.” Still, it is hauntingly beautiful in a style perfected by Sarah McLachlan.

Chorus:

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

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Angels

This song has a Celtic feel to it and borders on being folksy, but not too bad. I would consider it a good alternative to Danny Boy. It should not be confused with the song Angels that is sung by Robbie Williams or the song Angel sung by Sarah McLachlan. The song is written and performed by Mary McLaughlin, who wrote the song for her brother, Anthony.

Chorus:

For angels must walk before they can fly
And angels must learn to laugh and to cry
The angels are here, they’re among you and I
We’re all learning to be angels

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 Another Soldier’s Coming Home

This song tells the story of a faithul Christian who fought many spiritual battles on Earth such as temptation, fear, and depression. Through it all, his/her faith never wavered. Now that Christian “soldier” as died and he/she is going home to Heaven. The song has a slower tempo and is very beautifully sung by Janet Paschal.

Chorus:

Strike up the band
Assemble the choir
Another soldier’s coming home
For he’ll battle no more

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Back in His Arms Again

Mark Schultz sings this song. The song us upbeat with a fairly lively tempo. It’s focus is mainly on people who have turned away from religion. The song tells them that God has never abandoned them and is waiting for them to return home. It would also be appropriate for a funeral–especially for someone who had become a born-again Christian.

Significant Verse:

I believe that He never let you go
I believe that He’s wanting you to know
I believe that He’ll lead you ’til
You’re back in His arms again

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Even the Darkness is Light to Him

This Christian lullaby is based on Psalm 139:11 and sung by Michael Card. It sounds more like a folk song than a traditional lullaby. The song talks about protection through the night.

Significant Lyrics:

The Father above does not slumber or sleep
He wakefully watches our ways
Then there’s no reason for you to weep
For the Father above neither slumbers nor sleeps

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Friends

“Friends” is probably the sweetest, most meaningful song that could possibly be performed at a funeral. Although there are quite a few songs that have the same title, the version I am referring to is sung by Michael W. Smith, who also helped write the song. Like all of Smith’s songs, it has a strong religious feel to it and includes several references to God.

Chorus:

And friends are friends forever
If the lord’s the lord of them
And a friend will not say never
Cause the welcome will not end
Though its hard to let you go
In the father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

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Go Rest High On That Mountain

Vince Gill began writing this song after the death of Keith Whitley, but didn’t finish it until a few years later after the death of his brother. The song became a tribute to them both. The song is directed at the person who is passed on, and urges them to move on because they’ve earn the rest.

Significant Verse:

Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing

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Heaven (Waiting There for Me)

Hayley Westenra is a teenage singer from New Zealand. She is definately a soprano and her talents will amaze you. She is the perfect singer for this song, which is about someone who has died too soon. The song makes some brief references to heaven, but no overt religious references. The best line in the song: “And oh, I know just by knowing you I was blessed / Yes, I was truly blessed.”

Significant Verse:

So why, tell me why the good die young my old friend
I pray that heaven waits for everyone in the end
And love, love is how we cross that bridge to the light
A star that is what you are in my darkest night
Be always by my side

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Heaven Was Needing a Hero

Although Jo Dee Messina is known for being a country singer, this song does not have the traditional twang associated with country music. In other words, even people who typically dislike country music should like this song, especially after listening to the lyrics. One of the best lines in the song is “If I knew the last time that I held you was the last time / I’d have held you and never let go.”

Chorus:

I guess heaven was needing a hero
Somebody just like you
Brave enough to stand up
For what you believe
And follow it through
When I try to make it make sense in my mind
The only conclusion I come to
Is heaven was needing a hero
Like you

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I Can Only Imagine

Written by the lead singer of MercyMe, a contemporary Christian group, this song talks about what it might be like to me Jesus the first time. The song was their first single and reached number one on the Christian charts. Amy Grant slightly rewrote the song and recorded it under the title “Imagine.”

Chorus:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

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Let it Be

“Let it Be” was written by Paul McCartney and part of the last album the Beatles released before breaking up. The phrase “mother Mary” is often misinterpreted to mean Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. However, McCartney is actually referring to his own mother, who was also named Mary, who died when he was only 14. This song was played at Linda McCartney’s funeral.

Significant Verse:

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

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One Sweet Day

“One Sweet Day” is sung by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey. It is one of the most passionate and meaningful songs I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, they sing the song so well that I doubt any other singer could do it justice. The religious mentions are very brief, but still important.

Refrain:

And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way
And I know eventually we’ll be together
One sweet day
Eventually we’ll sing in heaven

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 Tears in Heaven

Eric Clapton wrote this about his 4-year-old son Conor, who died when he fell out of a 53rd floor window in the apartment where his mother was staying in New York City. Clapton then recorded it as part of a movie soundtrack. It is a very soulful song that clearly illustrates how Clapton feels. However, it is generic enough to be appropriate at any type of funeral.

Significant Lyrics:

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Will it be the same
If I saw you in heaven
I must be strong, and carry on
Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven

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When All is Said and Done

Geoff Moore sings this song about what will happen after death. The song wonders what people will think of him after he has gone as well as what he will face in the afterlife. It is a Christian song, with a good portion of the lyrics being devoted to talk of Jesus Christ and God.

Significant Verse:

When the music fades into the past,
When the days of life are through,
What will be remembered of where I’ve come?
When all is said and done?

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You’re Gone

Paul Williams wrote “You’re Gone” with Nashville songwriter Jon Vezner. According to Williams, the song is based on his own life events. The message of the song basically states that the singer is glad for the moments that were shared, even though that person is gone. According to Williams, Garth Brooks recorded but never released a version of the song. To date, the most popular version of the song is Diamond Rio’s.

Significant Lyrics:

Now I know God has His reasons
But sometimes it’s hard to see them
When I awake and find that you’re not there
You found hope in hopeless
Your made crazy sane
You became the missing link
That helped me break my chains

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A few other songs you might consider:


“The Prayer” performed by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli or Anthony CalleaI pray we’ll find Your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Remind us where You are
Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
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“The Wings That Fly Us Home” performed by John DenverThere are many ways of being in this circle we call life

A wise man seeks an answer, burns his candle through the night
Is a jewel just a pebble that found a way to shine
Is a heros blood more righteous than a hobos sip of wine
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One Response to “Best Religious Funeral Songs”

  1. dj xrey® says:

    Hello there!

    I like your web site and what a helpful service you provide to many people who find themselves needing proven music for a party, workout, or heaven forbid, a funeral for a loved one.

    As a professional radio and mobile DJ since 1970, I must share three interesting suggestions that have been requested that aren’t on your lists or would be obvious choices for most situations:

    1. strangest first wedding song I ever had requested: “Relax (sex mix)” – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
    This would be the 7 minute version on the domestic 12″ club single as there are many versions out there, including the longer New York mix. This was requested by a college couple I know. This was the SLOWEST song I played the rest of the night, so you can only imagine how the rest of the evening went with an open bar and very little food. Out of hundreds of wedding receptions where I had to play “We’ve Only Just Begun”, this event will remain at the top of my memory forever.

    Honorable mention from the same reception: “White Wedding (8 minute shotgun mix)” – Billy Idol
    This made a lot of guests laugh when they realized how the lyrics applied to the lucky bride and groom :-)

    2. a funeral/wake request from my best friend: “Spirit In The Sky” – Norman Greenbaum (also remade by Dr. & The Medics in the 80’s and was a hit on KROQ 106.7 here in LA)
    My friend who was born in 1980 is inspired by the older soul/R&B songs from the 60’s, and this hit is one of the few rock songs he likes, and when it comes up on the radio, he comes alive with a sunshine smile and always mentions he wants it played at his funeral or wake because it makes him feel touched by God.
    I keep it handy because he frequently does dumb/dangerous/stupid/inconsiderate things to me and his family, so I don’t want to disappoint him in the afterlife. There have been days I couldn’t wait to play this for him <:-0

    3. a funeral/wake song: "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" – Elton John
    A hugely popular album cut from his smash #1 mid 70's double album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", this 11-minute epic starts in an eerie, definitely maudlin tone as an instrumental, and sets the mood so when over 7 minutes later as it builds into an uplifting rock vocal frenzy where the listener experiences a rollercoaster of emotions. If I were to play it at a funeral service I'd start it in the background as the priest is wrapping up the service and folks are getting anxious to leave and let it build to the end until everyone is run out of the church so the staff may prepare for the next service or clean up for the day.

    If I used it at wake or a "celebration of life" event, I'd start it at the beginning as guests are arriving and getting seated or situated in the room, maybe extending it as needed until the first family member or friend takes the microphone to speak to the guests, then fade it down before it builds up into the rock frenzy, if that would feel inappropriate for the setting. Or let it play and fade out to set a more uptempo mood for the room, then let the first speaker take the mic. Again, something you have to feel as using music for weddings and funerals needs to be played live so the DJ can "read" the crowd and change the music as needed to ensure something appropriate is played throughout the event which you can't do with a pre-recorded tape or iPod set to "random".

    keep up the good work and service to everyone!

    DJ XREY®
    Long Beach, CA
    USA

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