41 Best Catholic Funeral Songs & Hymns

Contents

“For All The Saints” by the Plymouth Choir

Song year: 2015 

If you want a hymn that doubles as a triumphal send-off, look no further than Vaughan Williams. The tune for this song requires the organist to literally pull out all the organ stops.

It’s a sweeping melody. But buried in that grandiose melody is the message that death can be a celebration. Whether that's life or the person who died is a matter of personal preference.

Whatever you decide, “For All The Saints,” with its hopeful alleluias and speculation on the world to come, is an uplifting way to remember a loved one.

“The Lord Is My Shepherd” by The Choir of Westminster Abbey 

Song year: 2012

Psalm 23 is always popular as a funeral text. Many classical composers have done a version of it, from Mozart to Dvorak to the more recent theme for The Vicar of Dibley.

The hymn setting called “Crimond” is one of the most accessible arrangements of this list.

It’s a melody anyone can sing, with an understated descant. It tells us that however terrifying the transition to death looks, our loved ones shouldn’t be afraid, and neither should we. Afterward, there’s the promise of unconditional love and the comforts of home.

“Be Thou My Vision” by Audrey Assad

Song year: 2016

“Be Thou My Vision” is another of the more uplifting songs for funerals.

Like many hymns and songs in the Catholic tradition, it explores themes of closeness to God.

At a funeral, it can be an excellent way of remembering that however alone you feel, there’s always someone to experience the pain and desolation of loss alongside you.

“I The Lord Of Sea And Sky” by The National Youth Choir of Scotland

Song year: 2016

Based on an amalgamation of texts from the books of Isiah and Samuel, “I The Lord Of Sea And Sky” remains one of the most popular Catholic hymns.

Its urgent call to risk earth for heaven cuts to the heart of the Catholic message. It also works as a metaphor for what happens when we die. Traveling forward without your loved ones can be lonely, but by living those things they couldn’t, it’s possible to continue demonstrating your love for them and to find hope in unlikely places.

“Soul of My Saviour” by Truro Cathedral Choir

Song year: 2009

Another important facet of Catholic funerals is the communion hymn. “Soul of My Saviour” is short, sweet, and one of those hymns everyone knows by heart.

Hidden behind the well-known lyrics is the joyous message that after death there is endless love and the company of angels. It’s one of those songs for funerals that is comforting partly because it’s familiar but also because of what it has to say about death.

And what it says is that there’s always someone prepared to intervene and save you from creeping darkness.

“Sweet Sacrament” Divine by The Ely Cathedral Choir

Song year: 2000

“Sweet Sacrament Divine” is another popular Catholic communion hymn at funerals.

Its lyrics explore themes of refuge and solace when life feels challenging. The lyrical, even lethargic melody reflects that.

It’s a musical haven for anyone seeking peace and an excellent funeral selection.

“Abide With Me” by Keith and Krystin Getty

Song year: 2020

This Catholic song for funerals is an old favorite for a reason. It cuts to the heart of our loneliness when we lose a loved one. In the process, it offers one way to look for consolation.

When hope seems unreachable and the darkness of sorrow overwhelming, it reminds us we can never be truly alone. What’s more, it reassures us that that’s true, even when we don’t feel ready to reach out to the loved ones still with us.

“If Ye Love Me” by Tenebrae

Song year: 2020

Thomas Tallis wrote this beloved Catholic song for funerals in 1565. It’s based on Christ’s instructions to his disciples, and it’s a potent reminder of the importance of love.

The subtly shifting rhythms also remind listeners that comfort comes from unlikely places. At a time when it’s tempting to give in to despair, Tallis’ music urges mourners to embrace love and light instead.  

“Ubi Caritas” by The Central Washington University Choir

Song year: 2011

“Ubi Caritas” is usually associated with the Mandatuum or foot washing services of Maundy Thursday. More pertinently, it’s a song about the omnipresence of love.

That can be God’s unconditional love or the love we carry for people we’ve lost. It might even be the love we share with our fellow mourners.

One of the reasons this antiphon makes a compelling song for funerals is that it understands that love overcomes everything, even death and devastation. It won’t happen instantly, but it plays an important role in making grief more bearable.

“On Eagle’s Wings” by Michael Joncas

Song year: 2020

Psalm 23 might be the best-known psalm, but it’s not the only one suitable for funerals.

One of the powerful things about Psalms is that they let you shout at God. After a loss, that can be cathartic. But psalms can also be quieter reflections on life.

“On Eagle’s Wings” has its share of strong emotions. But it also promises that God will comfort you in your hour of darkness, making it an ideal Catholic song for funerals.

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