41 Best Catholic Funeral Songs & Hymns

Finding a proper song for a funeral can be hard, to say the least. Funerals take considerable emotional energy at the best of times, and not everyone feels up to wading through music selections.

With that in mind, here are some of what we consider the best catholic funeral songs and hymns for trying times.

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“Ave Maria” by Luciano Pavarotti

Song year: 1994

One of the most common songs for a funeral is “Ave Maria.”

The closing injunction to pray for us when we need it and at our death is deeply resonant, and many composers have arranged the prayer beautifully.

This version is by Franz Schubert and sung with appropriate feeling and sentimentality by Pavarotti.

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” by Kathleen Battle 

Song year: 1992

Another of the catholic funeral hymns is “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”

Most people recognize it as the compelling soprano aria from Handel’s Messiah. The aria uses a text from the Book of Job. It’s a powerful text for many reasons, not least of them the fact that Job also struggled with feelings of grief and anguish.

Handel’s music brings the verses to life, filling them with the hope and optimism that so many people long for at a funeral but struggle to find.

“In Our Day Of Thanksgiving” by the St Clement’s Choir

Song year:1998

Another hymn for a funeral is “In Our Day Of Thanksgiving.”

Its tone and relaxed rhythm give it a sad and melancholy tone without becoming too sentimental.

It’s also a touching reminder that the people we lose are everyday saints. As painful as our separation from loved ones is, there are still things we can rejoice about. As the hymn says, they enter the city of God, and while we miss them, that’s hopeful, not least because it offers hope for a reunion in the future.

“Ave Maria” by Leontine Price

Song year: 1982

The fact that no one is exactly sure who wrote this song doesn’t diminish its beauty.

Whether you attribute it to Bach or Gounod, the thrilling accompaniment and soaring melody are beautiful.

As sung by Leontine Price, they become a heartfelt prayer to intercede for our departed loved ones.

“Jerusalem The Golden” by The Choir Of Ely Cathedral

Song year: 2000

Despite its apocalyptic sound, “Jerusalem The Golden” is another of the most played songs for funerals.

Its vision of the New Jerusalem is one full of peace and comfort. It’s a vision that offers comfort and reassurance to families that wonder what happens to their loved ones after death.

“Ave Verum Corpus” by The Choir of New College Oxford

Song year: 2011

One of the most moving Catholic and simultaneously English composers was Sir Edward Elgar. He wrote many beautiful choral works, but one of his most beloved is the “Ave Verum Corpus.”

Its closing petition for mercy and grace makes a moving tribute to someone you’ve lost.

“Laudate Dominum” by The Bach Collegium

Song year: 2003

Mozart was another great composer who wrote many compositions that could be in funerals .

At first hear, his “Laudate Dominum” from the Coronation Mass seems an unlikely choice for a funeral. But its tranquil, floating melody is perfect.

It tenderly reminds the bereaved that death can be as familiar as coming home for some people. And when death comes peacefully, that’s something to celebrate, as are the lives people lived.

“Pie Jesu” by Renée Flemming 

Song year: 2005

Faure wrote his famous requiem for his mother. She was a soprano, so he took time to give some of the most moving reflections on death to his soprano soloist. “Pie Jesu” is a textbook example.

Many Masses of the time omitted it, but Faure went out of his way to include this elegant meditation on finding grace in death as a tribute to the woman he loved. It remains a beautiful way to celebrate the life of a lost loved one.

“Panis Angelicus” by The Choir of King’s College Cambridge

Song year: 2010

Cezar Frank’s “Panis Angelicus” is a favorite for a reason. Whether it's sung by a choir or a soloist, it’s a touching reflection on the tenants of Catholicism, from transformation to charity.

It’s appropriately religious for people who want a communion anthem that’s about the sacrament. But it’s sentimental enough that you can convey lots of feelings to a grieving audience.

“Ave Verum Corpus” by La Lyre Seraphique 

Song year: 1999

Here’s another of the “Ave Verum Corpus” as a Catholic song for a funeral. The harmony for the female voice is incredibly close, giving Saint-Saens' arrangement an extraordinarily intimate, prayerful feel.

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