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Contemporary Funeral Songs

Updated on May 6, 2013

It isn't just the formats of funerals and memorial services that are changing in today's world; the songs and music chosen for these ceremonies are as well. While proper religious music is still popular at traditional funerals, alternative services are using more contemporary funeral songs. Celine Dion and Sting's hits are replacing traditional classical favorites such as "Amazing Grace" or "The Lord Is My Shepherd."

Traditional vs. Contemporary Funerals

Many families still believe in traditional religious and somber funeral hymns and services when loved ones die. These established practices, typically performed through a Catholic or other Christian-based church, are handed down through the generations and are deep-seated in many individuals' belief systems.

However, as more Baby Boomers age and start planning their own funeral services, they are realizing they always don't want to do what their parents or grandparents did. Since this generation has already left its imprint on the world, why not do the same as they leave it?

These types of service, commonly called an alternative funeral, focuses more on celebrating the life of the person who died and not as much on his or her death. It typically is based on inviting themes that allow guests to participate as much as possible. Typically, the funeral theme is a popular hobby or interest of the deceased person.


List of Popular Contemporary Funeral Songs

It's only natural to choose funeral songs based on the funeral theme or deceased person's personality, and there really isn't any restrictions on what is acceptable, either, as long as what is chosen isn't in bad taste or offensive to family or guests. Some of the more commonly used contemporary funeral songs today are:

  • "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler (from the movie, "Beaches.")
  • "Fly" by Celine Dion
  • "Let It Be" by The Beatles
  • "Wings of a Dove" (various artists)
  • "I'll Fly Away" by Allison Krauss
  • "(If You Love Somebody) Set Them Free" by Sting

  • "Memory" by Barbara Streisand
  • "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan
  • "Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is a Season)" by The Byrds
  • "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (from the movie, "Titanic")
  • "Candle in the Wind" by Sir Elton John
  • "The Circle of Life" by Sir Elton John
  • "My Way" by Frank Sinatra
  • "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Guns N' Roses
  • "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zepplin
  • "Everybody Hurts" by REM
  • "The Dance" by Garth Brooks

Personalized Funeral Songs

While most of the above-mentioned songs would work at just about any funeral, there are instances when very specific songs have more of an impact. These contemporary tunes celebrate the life and relationship with a specific family member, friend or child. They are very appropriate to use for a funeral service:

  • "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton
  • "Dance with My Father" by Luther Vandross
  • "Mother, I Miss You" by John Tesh, Dalia Reid and Leroy Reid
  • "Beloved Wife" by Natalie Merchant

  • "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men
  • "Child of Mine" by Carole King
  • "Funeral for a Friend" by Sir Elton John
  • "Childhood Dreams" by Nelly Furtado
  • "Borrowed Angels" by Kristin Chenwith
  • "In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride
  • "He's My Son" by Mark Schultz
  • "Mother and Child Reunion" by Paul Simon
  • "Lullaby" by Creed


What Is Your Favorite Contemporary Funeral Song?

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Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Funeral Song

When you chose a funeral song -- whether it's contemporary or traditional -- remember to keep not only your loved one in mind, but also your audience. You do not want to choose a song that is so obscure no one will understand it, yet so inappropriate that somebody gets offended. You can also do a search for contemporary religious or Christian songs to use during a funeral or memorial service.


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