41 Best Catholic Funeral Songs & Hymns

Contents

“Sancte Deus” by All Angels

Song year: 2022

It’s difficult to isolate a single Elgar piece when compiling lists of songs for funerals.

The lyrical, if melancholy, ‘Sancte Deus’ makes a gentle serenade of a departed loved one or even a communion anthem during the service.

“Lead Kindly Light” by The Tabernacle Choir

Song year: 2012

Sometimes grief feels like it's extinguishing all the light and hope in the world. This piece reminds singers that your love for the people you lose is enough to keep that darkness at bay.

“In Paradisum” by King’s College, Cambridge

Song year: 2012

‘In Paradisum’ is often described as one of the most beautiful songs for women’s voices. Its high, floating melody tenderly evokes Heaven. It makes a lovely song for funerals, especially if you find comfort in thinking about your loved ones among the angels.

“How Great Thou Art” by Carrie Underwood

Song year: 2021

‘How Great Thou Art’ is popular at many denominational funerals. Its swooping melodic intervals help many people feel there’s a purpose behind even the most unexpected death.

It’s also a powerful reminder for Catholics that God also knew the pain and loss of a family member. What we cling to is that we will be reunited in due season.

“Love Divine All Loves Excelling” by The All Souls Orchestra

Song year: 2021

One of the reasons “Love Divine All Loves Excelling” continues to be a favorite Catholic service is its message.

Whether you plan the funeral or simply attend, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by death. What “Love Divine” reminds congregants is that there is one thing that can puncture the agony of loss, and that’s love. For friends, family, and the people we continue to mourn.

“A Gaelic Blessing” by The Cambridge Singers 

Song year: 2004 

Rutter writes beautiful, sentimental choral music. “A Gaelic Blessing” may be based on an old Irish prayer, but that doesn’t diminish its power. Its’ wish for peace offers comfort to the bereaved and hopes for a gentle transition to death and whatever comes next for the departed.

Heartfelt and evocative, it’s an ideal song for any funeral.

“Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind” by The Choir of Westminster Abbey

Song year: 2017

This song is the perfect hymn for people struggling to find peace after a bereavement.

The melody comes from Herbert Parry’s oratorio Judith, and its noble and serious tone is perfect for a reflective funeral service.

Even more meaningful are the lyrics, which help singers find renewed peace, faith, and order in a world turned upside-down.

“Going Home” by the BYU Choir

Song year: 2011

Originally, “Going Home” was better known as the Largo movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. You can still hear it that way. But the melody was so popular that one of Dvorak’s pupils gave it lyrics.

Ever since, it's been a staple Catholic song for funerals. Unlike other songs on this list, it’s not overtly Catholic. But the message is effective.

It’s a touching reminder that sometimes death comes as a friend. It can be as soothing as going home, and that’s all we want for our loved ones, especially if they suffered.

Solemn and sincere, it’s a beautiful song for honoring departed friends and family.

“Lord Of All Hopefulness” by St Alban’s Cathedral Choir

Song year: 2012

Sometimes, we want uplifting Catholic hymns for funerals. That’s understandable. Grief can be a morass, and music that moves you is one of the most effective ways to re-discover the world.

“Lord of All Hopefulness” is less obviously joyful, as something like “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee.” But its prayer for the strength to continue is one that mourners everywhere can sympathize with.

Simultaneously it reminds us that there will always be hope and love in the world. They’ll be waiting when you are ready to look for them again.

“Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by The Vancouver Cantata Singers 

Song year: 2019

“Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep” is another less obvious song for funerals.

It hails from a Middle English poem, and at the time it was written, church doctrines were more flexible than they are today.

Nevertheless, it remains a touchingly optimistic meditation on death. We miss our loved ones when they die, but they aren’t gone forever.

What “Do Not Stand At My Grave” powerfully reminds listeners of is that the people we love linger in our memories, whether those are favorite trees or the smell of perfume, or the first snow of the year. As long as we remember them, we keep them alive. And in that way, we’re never wholly alone.

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