From traditional chants to hymns and soothing guitar instrumentals, Hawaiian music spreads the message of love, compassion, and being present in the moment. Moreover, it can help people who are mourning, bring back fond memories, and provide consolation.
This article will explore some of the most popular Hawaiian funeral songs, delving into their backgrounds, cultural significance, and individual meanings.
“Aloha ‘Oe” by Lili’uokalani
Song year: 1878
“Aloha' Oe” is one of the most well-known and beloved Hawaiian songs. A heartfelt farewell between Colonel James Harbottle Boyd and Princess Liliʻuokalani in the late 19th century inspired it. The lyrics explore the idea of saying goodbye to someone you share sweet memories with.
The song’s soft vocals and gentle pacing make it fitting for a funeral. They evoke feelings of sadness but are also very soothing and provide a tender tribute to the deceased’s life.
“A Part of Me, A Part of You” by Moe Keale
Song year: 1986
“A Part of Me, A Part of You” speaks of the bond between lost loved ones and the connection that remains even after one has passed away. The music expresses the idea that a part of a person's spirit and love stays with those they have left behind, offering comfort and solace during a time of loss.
“‘Ekolu Mea Nui” by Dennis Pavao
Song year: 1995
“Ekolu Mea Nui” is a beautiful Hawaiian song expressing the idea that there are three essential things in life: love, hope, and faith. At a funeral, it can serve as a reminder of the love and support of those left behind and the importance of cherishing relationships, even in loss and grief.
“Going Home” By Tropical Kights
Song year: 2020
“Going Home” by Tropical Kights is a song that speaks of the journey home after a long journey. At a funeral, it can provide comfort by reminding those grieving that their loved one has gone home and is finally at peace.
This song can create a peaceful and reflective atmosphere during a funeral or memorial service, helping to create a space for reflection, remembrance, and closure.
“Goodbye My Friend” By Keali'i Reichel
Song year: 2003
“Goodbye, My Friend” by Keali'i Reichel is a touching and emotional song that can be an appropriate choice for a funeral. The song has a slow and sad rhythm, with poignant lyrics that speak to the feelings of loss and farewell that often accompany the passing of a loved one.
“Grandma's Voice” by Moke Boy
Song year: 1998
This song is a tribute to a grandmother and the love and wisdom she provided. It talks about how her voice continues to be a guiding force in the lives of those she left behind. This song reminds listeners, especially those who have lost a grandmother, of her unending love.
“Hawai'i Aloha” by Doug and Sandy McMaster
Song year: 1997
“Hawai'i Aloha” by Doug and Sandy McMaster is a beautiful tribute to the Hawaiian culture and its people. It speaks of the love for the land, its people, and its connection. At a funeral, it can serve to celebrate the cultural heritage of the person who has passed away and the bond they shared with their community.
“Hawaiian Funeral Song” by Bob Faber
Song year: 2008
“Hawaiian Funeral Song” by Bob Faber is written explicitly for funerals. The song is written in the traditional Hawaiian style, incorporating elements of Hawaiian music and culture. The melody is slow and mournful, but at the same time, it is soothing and peaceful, reflecting the idea of saying goodbye to a loved one.
The Hawaiian musical elements in the song also help to create a sense of connection to the heritage and traditions of Hawaii, which can be comforting to those grieving.
“Hawaiian Lullaby” By The Sunday Manoa
Song year: 1973
The song is a gentle and soothing melody that calms and comforts the listener. The lyrics speak of love and protection and ask for peace and rest for the listener. This song can be a fitting choice for a funeral service, as it says of the idea of rest and the comfort of being in the care of a higher power.
“Hawai'i Pono'i” by Sounds of Hawaii Chorus
Song year: 1997
“Hawai'i Pono'i” by Tai Manu-Olevau is the national anthem of love, devotion, and pride in the Hawaiian Islands and its people. At a funeral, it can serve as a tribute to the person who has passed away and a celebration of their love and connection to the Hawaiian people and culture.
“Iesū No Ke Kahuhipa” by Kekapa Lee
Song year: 1998
“Iesū No Ke Kahuhipa” by Kekapa Lee is a traditional Hawaiian hymn that expresses the singer's devotion to Jesus Christ as the savior. The song speaks of how the singer's heart is filled with joy and peace when they think of Jesus and rely on him for guidance and protection.
This song can be a comforting and uplifting choice for a funeral service, as it acknowledges the idea of eternal life and the belief that loved ones who have passed are in a better place.
“I'll Remember You” By Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau
Song year: 1964
“I'll Remember You” by Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau is a touching tribute to a loved one who has passed away. The song speaks of the memories that will be cherished and how loved ones will never forget the person with love.
“In This Life” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Song year: 1996
“In This Life” is a song by Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole that reflects on the blessings and joys of life and the power of love. The music speaks to the idea that even though life is fleeting and we will not live forever, the love that we experience in this life is what truly matters.
“Ka Loke” by Makaha Sons & Friends
Song year: 1997
“Ka Loke” is a song that speaks of love for the Hawaiian culture and the land and how it brings people together in unity. At a funeral, this song can serve to celebrate the cultural heritage of the person who has passed away and the bond they shared with their community.
“Kanaka Wai Wai” By Hui Ohana and Tina Kaapana
Song year: 1975
“Kanaka Wai Wai” is a tribute to Hawaiian heritage and the people who have lived there. The song speaks of the land's beauty and how it is treasured. At a funeral, it can comfort those grieving by reminding them of the rich cultural heritage of their loved one and the land they call home.
“KaWailele O Nuuanu” by The Brothers Cazimero
Song year: 1980
“KaWailele O Nuuanu” is a beautiful love song about the Nuuanu Stream, a famous Hawaiian landmark known for its lush beauty. It speaks of the joy of being near this place and how it touches the heart. It can provide a sense of peace and serenity at a funeral as it speaks of a beautiful place where the spirit can rest.
“Ke Akua Mana E (How Great Thou Art)” by Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom
Song year: 2007
“Ke Akua Mana E (How Great Thou Art)” by Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom is a beautiful and powerful Hawaiian rendition of the classic Christian hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” This song has a strong spiritual message that speaks to the grandeur and majesty of God and how his love and presence are always with us, even in times of difficulty and loss.
“Lei Hail'a” by Keali'i Reichel
Song year: 1994
“Lei Hali'a” by Keali'i Reichel is a song that expresses the idea that love and affection are like a beautiful lei that remains with us even after the physical body has passed away. It is considered a good funeral song because it provides comfort and solace to those in mourning by reminding them that the love and memories of their loved ones will always remain with them.
“Majesty” by Valley Boys
Song year: 1997
“Majesty” by Valley Boys is a song that speaks of the power and glory of God. At a funeral, it can provide comfort by reminding those grieving that their loved one is in the hands of a higher power and that they will be taken care of. This song helps comfort and solace those in mourning by reminding them of life's eternal and spiritual aspects.
“My Sweet Pikake Lei” by The Brothers Cazimero
Song year: 1998
Songs like “My Sweet Pīkake Lei” can help people say goodbye to their loved ones by providing a musical expression of the love and memories they shared. The song's nostalgic tone and heartfelt lyrics can serve as a comfort and reminder of the beauty and love that was present in the life of their loved one, even as they say goodbye.
“Na Kani o Ke Aloha o Ka Haku” by Lili’uokalani
Song year: 1893
“The Queen's Prayer” is also known as “Ke Aloha o Ka Haku” by Queen Lili'uokalani. The song expresses a deep love, devotion to God, and hope for forgiveness and peace. The words convey a sense of sorrow and hardship, a strong belief in God's goodness and protection.
The song has become a staple of Hawaiian funeral services as a tribute to the deceased and a celebration of their life and legacy.
“Only Good Times” by Keola & Kapono Beamer
Song year: 1978
“Only Good Times” by Keola & Kapono Beamer is a song that speaks of the good times shared with loved ones. It creates a positive and uplifting atmosphere during the memorial or funeral service, reminding those in attendance of the good times and memories shared with the person who has passed away.
The song's message of celebrating and cherishing happy memories can provide comfort and solace, especially during grief.
“Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Song year: 2011
“Over the Rainbow” is a classic song from the musical “The Wizard of Oz.” The Hawaiian version by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole has become a beloved classic in Hawaii. It is often used as a celebration of life and a tribute to loved ones who have passed.
For many people in Hawaii, “Over the Rainbow” symbolizes hope, love, and the beauty of life, making it a fitting choice as a funeral song.
“The Prayer (Hawaiian Version)” by Ho'okena
Song year: 2015
“The Prayer (Hawaiian Version)” by Ho'okena and Maila Gibson is a religious song that speaks of the power of prayer. Initially performed by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, the song's slow, contemplative pace and soothing harmonies could help to create a peaceful and uplifting atmosphere at the funeral or memorial service.
This song can provide comfort and solace to grieving people at a funeral by reminding them that they can pray for comfort and strength during this difficult time.
“The Road That Never Ends” By Keali'i Reichel
Song year: 1999
“The Road That Never Ends” is a song by Keali'i Reichel that speaks of life's journey and how it continues even after death. It is a poignant and contemplative song that could help grieving people come to terms with their loss. At a funeral, it can give comfort by reminding those grieving that the spirit of their loved one lives on and their journey is not over.
“Wanting Memories” by Keal'li Reichel
Song year: 1997
“Wanting Memories” by Keal'li Reichel is a song that speaks of the longing for memories of a loved one who has passed away. At a funeral, it can provide comfort by reminding those grieving of the happy memories they shared with the person who passed away and that they will always be remembered.
“White Sandy Beach” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Song year: 1993
“White Sandy Beach” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is a peaceful, uplifting song that speaks of the beauty of Hawaii and the ocean. The song's association with the beauty and freedom of Hawaii's natural landscapes might evoke serenity and escape, which could help provide a sense of release and renewal for grieving people.
Best Hawaiian Funeral Songs, Final Thoughts
Many traditional Hawaiian songs are passed down through generations and are part of the community's shared cultural heritage. As such, they are often steeped in cultural and spiritual significance and can provide comfort and solace to grieving people.
Incorporating these Hawaiian funeral songs into a funeral or memorial service can be a way to celebrate the deceased's life and legacy and honor the cultural traditions that were important to them.