53 Best Funeral Songs Ever

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“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum

Song Year: 1970

While many people prefer soft and reflective music at a funeral, there is a utility to uplifting music with faster tempos and driving instrumentals. And Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” released on the 1970 album of the same name, manages to blend gospel sentiment with rock and roll instrumentals. The track was a worldwide success.

“When a Hero Falls” by Stephen Cochran

Song Year: 2007

Stephen Cockran put out the track “When a Hero Falls” on his 2007 self-titled album. The lyrics represent the grief of losing someone during military service, but you can generalize them to work at any funeral as losing someone who was a personal hero to grieving people. Despite the sad content, the musical accompaniment suggests more hopeful emotions will come.

“Candle in the Wind” by Elton John

Song Year: 1974

Next is the touching Elton John track “Candle in the Wind,” released on the 1974 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. While the original intention was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe after her passing, the track found more popularity in 1997 when John rewrote the song in honor of Princess Diana. The deep lyrics and gentle music are a perfect fit for funeral emotions.

“If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore

Song Year: 2011

From the 2011 album Outlaws Like Me, Justin Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” is a country song that reflects on the melancholic feelings of missing someone who passed. Typical of the style, gentle and reflective music in the verses leads to powerful and expressive choruses featuring Moore’s strong vocals.

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

Song Year: 1994

Leonard Cohen wrote the track “Hallelujah” and recorded the original version of it in 1984. But this version by Jeff Buckley, released on the 1994 album Grace, fits particularly well with a funeral setting. Buckley’s gentle singing and sparse guitar accompaniment will bring about a sad and reflective mood fit for people mourning and dealing with the difficulties of death.

“You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder

Song Year: 1973

Next is Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of My Life,”  an upbeat ballad that serves as a nice contrast to many of the slow and mournful tracks in this collection. This track will not be appropriate for all funeral settings, but it is fitting for those times when people need to feel hopeful emotions and appreciate the happy memories they formed with passed loved ones.

“Just a Closer Walk with Thee” by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson

Song Year: 1996

“Just a Closer Walk with Thee” is commonplace as a jazz standard at New Orleans-style funerals, blending gospel musical sounds with Dixieland harmonies and swing. This recording by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson, released on the 1996 album I’m Moving Along, is a faster and more positive interpretation of this classic song.

“Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” by Toby Keith

Song Year: 2009

Toby Keith put the track “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” on his 2009 album American Ride. The mostly acoustic track produces a reflective mood as the narrator expresses the moment of finding out that someone has died. The song made it to number six on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

“You'll Never Walk Alone” by Judy Garland

Song Year: 1945

A tune from Carousel, a 1945 musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, this recording of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” showcases the powerful and expressive singing of Judy Garland. The lyrics can be a gentle comfort for those who have recently lost someone, and the slow tempo and soft voices create a reflective mood well suited for funerals.

“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

Song Year: 2003

The Irish/Norwegian band Secret Garden wrote the song “You Raise Me Up,” and many artists have recorded this passionate tune. The cover by American singer Josh Groban was particularly successful because of Groban’s powerful voice, which expressed the lyrics well. His recording hit the top of the Adult Contemporary chart in the US.

“Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill

Song Year: 1995

Vince Gill released the track “Go Rest High on That Mountain” on his 1995 album When Love Finds You. This country ballad has a slow tempo and the rich sonority typical of country singing, including beautiful harmonies. With lyrics about losing family, the music and words provide a healthy avenue for crying and grieving.

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