11 Popular Funeral Hymns and Songs for Religious Services

funeral hymns

Funeral planning can be very difficult for the family of the deceased. While having to face their own grief, they are being asked to make decisions about how to say goodbye to their loved one. 

Of course, they want the farewell services to be meaningful and honor their loved one. But planning a funeral at such a time of sadness can be overwhelming. There is planning the funeral and making all the decisions that go with it. 

One way to personalize a funeral service is by choosing music for the service that your loved one would have liked.

Musical choices have a special way of offering comfort, encouragement, and sometimes hope during the funeral proceedings. Consider these 11 funeral hymns which are popular choices that offer the right tone and message for the service. 

1. Ave Maria

“Ave Maria,” which is translated from Latin to mean Hail Mary, is a popular funeral choice. It was written by Franz Schubert in 1825 and has many different versions in multiple languages. There are many famous renditions of the song by well-known singers. 

For a funeral, the version that is most often used is the Latin prayer version. The familiarness and beautiful vocals are likely to offer comfort. 

2. Amazing Grace

A traditional funeral song, “Amazing Grace,” offers the message of peace and salvation after death. The song finishes in the final stanza with a strong religious message of the afterlife which is sure to offer comfort to mourners. 

It starts:

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound! 
That saved a wretch like me! 
I once was lost, but now I’m found; 
Was blind, but now I see.”

This message of a new beginning in the afterlife makes this song, with many versions, one of the most popular funeral hymns. 

3. I Watch The Sunrise

The message is strong and comforting in “I Watch the Sunrise.” This hymn by John Glynn reminds listeners that the Lord is with us always, morning and night.

Its connection for a funeral can be quite comforting to those mourning. Like the Lord is with us, so too is your loved one still with you.

4. Abide With Me

The title is important in this popular funeral hymn. The message for Jesus to “Abide With Me” through all the hurdles of life. The challenge of death included in that plea.

In the last stanza of the hymn, there is a strong connection to death.

“Hold now your Word before my closing eyes.
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

The final message being if we abide in the Lord, he will show us the way even in death. 

5. In the Sweet By and By

This popular funeral hymn has its roots in American folk music. It offers up the message of hope. It lyrics cast an image of peace. The Lord offers a chance at new peace in a new land. 

Written by Sanford Fillmore Bennet in 1868, it a song filled with the message of peace and comfort. 

6. I’ll Fly Away

The gospel song’s message of peace was written by Albert E. Brumley in 1929. The song changes the viewpoint of the listener. 

Consider that life is a time of troubles and challenges. In death, you can hope for joy and comfort. “I’ll Fly Away” asks listeners to imagine life’s challenges can be set aside when reaching the restful moments of death.

7. Be Not Afraid

“Be Not Afraid” is a popular Catholic hymn. Written by Bob Dufford, S.J., during a time when he faced his own fear and anxiety about the future. He was about to be ordained as a priest and was struggling with his own future. 

It is not a verse offering comfort to those struggling with what is ahead. It has been used at everything from a presidential inauguration service to the bedside of those facing death. It also remains very popular at funeral services for its message of casting fear aside for what is coming.

8. The Old Rugged Cross

This is a song sung in many different versions including by popular country performers. It illuminates the dedication to Jesus Christ and the importance of celebrating him on the cross. 

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down.” It asks Christians to cling to the cross as they move through life and death.

9. How Great Thou Art

Based on a 19th-century Swedish poem, this song illuminates nature’s beauty. It has a familiar chorus that will be recognizable to worshippers and easy for them to join.

The song praises the wonders of God as he holds our hands. It offers mourners the idea of that someday you will meet with God on your path. 

10. To God Be the Glory

“To God Be the Glory” is a beloved Christian hymn for funerals. It carries the message that even though we might feel grief, despair, and sadness at death there will be a meeting with Jesus Christ. With this meeting, there will be a chance to rejoice with him, Jesus Christ. 

11. The Lord’s My Shepherd I’ll Not Want

This commonly used hymn was written by James Montgomery and is based on Psalm 23. The most well-known line of the hymn, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

It speaks to the guidance of the Lord on the path through life and into death. It has a message of comfort while finding guidance through the Lord.

Best Funeral Hymns for Religious Services

While nobody wants to be in the position of planning a funeral for a loved one, it is the unavoidable part of life. The goal should be to create a service that is personal to the deceased and comforting to the living. Choosing the right funeral hymns will personalize the service in a special way.

For more advice on funeral planning or pre-planning of funeral services, contact us today.