When you lose a loved one, one of the most important things is finding a way to honor their memory. Music has connected people for millennia, so choosing the perfect song for a funeral or memorial service is a great way to pay tribute to a life well lived. Here are some of the best funeral songs to choose from.
The Best Funeral Songs
1. “Amazing Grace” by Leanne Rimes
“Amazing Grace” is an iconic funeral song at religious and non-religious memorial services alike. And even though it was written in 1772, it remains a mainstay of funeral music.
There are countless versions, but the country-tinged Leanne Rimes one is especially touching; you can listen to it here. And if you want to play it on guitar, it isn’t too hard to learn. You will just need G, G7, C, D, and Em.
2. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John
Elton John initially wrote this song about the death of Marilyn Monroe, but it’s a beautiful and heartfelt funeral song for just about anyone.
Like most Elton John songs, this one is played on the piano, but you can play it on guitar as well. There are a few different versions out there to learn, but this video tutorial (below left) shows you one that isn’t too difficult. To play it, you will need to place a capo on the second fret and play A, A7, Asus4, Bm, D, Dsus4, G, and Gadd4.
3. “One Day in Your Life” by Michael Jackson
You might not expect to see Michael Jackson on a funeral playlist, but “One Day in Your Life” is a beautifully heartfelt song perfect for a memorial service. It’s one of Jackson’s first hits and was released when he was a teenager.
“One Day in Your Life” sounds especially beautiful when played fingerstyle on an acoustic guitar. If you’d like some video guidance, this especially helpful video (above right) will show you a slowed-down version of the song with tabs to follow.
4. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
This Josh Groban hit is a staple of funeral music. It’s perfect for the funeral of a parent, so if you’re looking for funeral songs for dad or mom, this one’s a good choice.
If you want to learn to play it yourself, you can do so using some fairly basic chords. This relatively easy version (video below left) will show you the chords you need. You can use C, Csus, C/E, F, G, G/C, Am, F/A, C/G, G7, A, A/C#, Bm, D/F#, D, G/B, D/A, and A7.
5. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
Though Louis Armstrong didn’t write this uplifting song, he was the first to record it. And if you want a funeral song to celebrate life, this classic can certainly help you do it.
If you intend to play your own funeral song, you might want to check out this beautiful fingerstyle arrangement (video above right). “What a Wonderful World” also sounds great strummed. It includes quite a few chords, but most aren’t too difficult to play. You can find them here.
6. “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross
This Luther Vandross song perfectly captures the relationship between a father and son, so it’s a great choice for playing at a father’s funeral.
You can learn to play this song fairly easily, too. With the capo at the first fret, you will just need to play A, E, F#m, D, Bm, B, F#, G#m, and C#m. This tutorial (video below left) can take you through it. You can simply strum the chords, or you might prefer to create your own fingerpicking pattern!
7. “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
If you’re planning a son or daughter’s funeral, you might consider this song about dying young. The Band Perry has said that the song is about “making the most of whatever time you’re given.”
This song is beginner-friendly and includes many chords you may already know. This video (above right) will take you through the chords and a few example strumming patterns to get you started. With a capo at the second fret, you will need to play G, D, A, and Bm.
8. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
This song sounds great played acoustically or on an electric guitar with some delay and reverb. And as this tutorial (video below left) shows you, you can play it using C, Am, F, G, and A7. It sounds especially good when fingerpicked.
9. “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holliday
This touching ballad was part of Right This Way, a 1938 Broadway musical. Since then, it’s become a jazz standard covered by countless musicians, but Billie Holliday’s version is probably the most famous one. You can check it out here.
This song sounds beautiful when played on piano or guitar. This tutorial (video above right) will take you through both the sheet music and the chords. You’ll need to play Eb, G7, Fm, C7, Bb7, Fm7, F#dim7, Eb/G, Cm7, Eb6, Bb-augmented9, Gm7b5, Dm7b5, and F9.
10. “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore
If you’re planning a funeral service for a family member who loves country music, this song is a great choice. It’s about spending a day in heaven visiting loved ones who have died.
If you haven’t explored down-tuning before, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” is a great introduction. When you tune down a half step, you just need to play C, F, G, Am, and Em. This video (below left) will take you through it.
11. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
Older songs have a certain gravitas to them, and you’ll find that’s the case with Sinatra’s “My Way.” It’s about a man looking back on a life he lived on his own terms, so it’s a great song choice for a celebration of life.
You can play a dynamic version of “My Way” on guitar using fairly easy chords. As you’ll see in this video (above right), you will need D, Dmaj7, D7, B7, Em7, Em7/D, Em/C#, A7/D, G, Gm, Em, F#m, Bm, and A.
12. “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood
Lyrically speaking, this heartfelt Carrie Underwood song is ideal for a funeral, as it’s about one day seeing your loved ones again in heaven. If you aren’t familiar with the song, you can check out the music video here.
This video tutorial (below left) can take you through both the chords and the intro licks to the song. In terms of chords, you’ll need G, C, Em, D, Cm, and D/F#. You’ll also learn a basic strumming pattern for the song, but feel free to experiment and create your own!
13. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
Though initially written for a Western film, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” has become an iconic track. This meaningful song, told from the perspective of a dying sheriff, works beautifully as a funeral song.
When it comes to both chords and strumming patterns, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is one of the easiest songs on the list. You only need G, C, D, and Em, and this video tutorial (above right) can take you through it. Of course, the song’s simplicity lends itself to other adaptations, so you might want to play around with rhythms, fingerpicking, etc.
14. “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
James Taylor has said that part of this song addresses his reaction to the death of a friend, so it’s a perfect choice for a funeral service. If you want your funeral playlist to include a pensive acoustic song or two, this is a good one to include.
Playing this song is a bit more complex than simple strumming; it includes some picking, some strumming, and some hammer-ons and pull-offs. And even though it may take some more time to master, it’s well worth the effort! This video tutorial (below left) will give you a step-by-step guide.
15. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon
If you’re in search of one song that’s suitable for the funeral of a son, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” is a good choice. John Lennon wrote the song for his son Sean.
This simple yet beautiful song sounds great when played on an acoustic guitar. And as you’ll see in this helpful video lesson (above right), the chords you need to play it aren’t too difficult. You will need A, A7, B7, Bm, Bm7, Bm7sus2, D, D6, Em7, and G.
16. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
This song is perfect for a celebration of life and love. And while Whitney Houston’s version is by far the most famous, Dolly Parton actually wrote the original!
This song is a bit challenging, so if you’re new to guitar, you might want to master some of the easier songs first. To play it, you will need A, D, F#m7, E, Amaj7sus2, G#, F#, Dmaj7, C#m7, Bm7, D#, G#m, and B. This tutorial can talk you through it.
17. “How Great Thou Art” by Elvis Presley
Traditional hymns and gospel songs make great funeral songs, and “How Great Thou Art” is a classic. The Elvis Presley version is especially beautiful; you can check out the audio here. If you want something more modern, there’s also an Alan Jackson version.
Because this is a famous hymn, there are plenty of versions out there to learn. Most are quite beginner-friendly! This tutorial (video below left) will show you both the chords and the strumming pattern you need to play it well. You’ll only need three chords: G, Cadd9, and D/F#add11.
18. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
This emotional song has fostered meaningful family connections in real life. Nat King Cole had great success with it, and it also became a hit for his daughter Natalie Cole.
Part of this song’s uniquely beautiful sound comes from some unusual chords. To play it, you will need Fmaj7, E, Bbmaj7, Gbdim, E7, Eb6, A#, G7, C9, B9, Bb/F, and F. This video (above right) can talk you through the song, and it also offers some very useful chord diagrams!
19. “There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill
Plenty of families choose country funeral songs for their loved ones. Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be” is a heartfelt song about remembrance that makes a meaningful choice for a funeral.
This song is easiest to play with a capo at the first fret. From here, you play G, Bm, Am, C, D, and F (this video tutorial below left, can take you through the song). Of course, if you want to depart from your typical strum pattern, you can add in some flatpicking or fingerpicking.
20. “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
“The Dance” is a song with some real depth to it. It asserts that life is better when you aren’t sure how it ends; if you miss out on pain, you’ll also miss out on the important things.
This thoughtful country tune is a good choice for memorial services, and it’s also easy to play. This tutorial (video above right) will take you through a slightly simplified four-chord version. This version of the song uses G, C, D, and Bm.
21. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
This beautiful song was originally written for the soundtrack to the movie Titanic. But it quickly became a huge hit, taking on a life of its own beyond the film. Its emotionality and themes of resilience make it a great choice for a funeral service.
If you want to learn to play “My Heart Will Go On,” there are several arrangements out there. But the one in this video (below left) is a good place to start, as it takes you through easy chords and a strumming pattern. The chords you’ll need are D, A, G, and Bm. Of course, if you’re up for more of a challenge, you can learn to pick the melody, too!
22. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
The best funeral songs are the authentic ones, and this one certainly is. Eric Clapton wrote it for his 4-year-old son who died after falling from a window.
The beauty of “Tears in Heaven” comes largely from its fingerstyle arrangement. So if you’re looking for a song that sounds just as good played instrumentally as it does sung, this is a great one to learn. This video (above right) takes you through the complete fingerstyle arrangement and even shows you the tabs on the screen.
23. “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
If you’re looking for a great funeral song with an R&B flavor, “One Sweet Day” is one to consider. Its themes of connecting to a loved one in heaven make it perfect for a memorial service. If you aren’t familiar with the one, you can check out the video here.
This song doesn’t translate quite as clearly to guitar on some of the other songs on the list. But this tutorial (video below left) will show you one way to adapt it using a capo and playing G, Em, F, D, D7, C, B7, Am, A, and E.
24. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
Though “Wish You Were Here” was written about a band member struggling with schizophrenia, its themes apply to losing a best friend or other loved one, too.
This beautiful song’s haunting melody is worth learning, and this tutorial (video above right) can show you the tabs you need to play it. It also includes the chords you will need: Em7, G, A7sus4, C/G. D/F#, Am, and G/B
25. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by Alan Jackson
The name of this country song makes it sound like a breakup song, but it’s actually about a man who loves a woman until the day he dies. It was originally recorded by George Jones, but Alan Jackson plays a great rendition of the touching ballad.
Like some of the other country tunes on the list, this one isn’t tough to master. It sounds great strummed, and you can play it with just four chords. You’ll need G, G7, C, and D. The strumming pattern is slow and easy, making it great for beginners to play. Check out this video for an easy guide.
Even More Funeral Songs
- “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan
- “One More Day” by Diamond Rio
- “Country Roads” by John Denver
- “Wings of Angels” by Judy Collins
- “See You on the Other Side” by Ozzy Osbourne
- “Sissy’s Song” by Alan Jackson
- “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill
- “When September Ends” by Green Day
- “Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)” by Celine Dion
- 1″Just a Closer Walk With Thee” by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson
- “Only Time” by Enya
- “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
- “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead O’Connor
- “Forever Young” by Alphaville
- “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
Hopefully, you now have some ideas for music for a loved one’s funeral. What do you think? Did we leave out any great funeral songs? Let us know in the comments, and please don’t forget to like and share if you found this article useful!
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