Hymns for Funeral Mass?

Can you pick any hymns you want for a funeral Mass? What can and can’t be used? How many are sung usually? Thanks, Tim

the hymnal we use at my church has a listing in the back index, the songs are listed in groups, ie. advent, Christmas, church, wedding, funeral etc. The people at your churchs office can also help you pick the music, they will have a list. When I planned my mothers funeral last summer, I had all the music picked out before our priest came to visit at the house. We talked about the readings and the music then. You’ll need
Opening Hymn
A Psalm for the response after the first reading
song for when the gifts are brought up
Communion song
We also had my niece play a song on her violin after communion

Hope that helps. Music is suppose to be in accordance with the Holy Mass. I’m not sure if secular music is allowed during Mass but maybe after Communion, but you’d have to consult the priest or the liturgical coordinator at your parish.
Hope that helps

Very informative, thanks. I’m leaving a to do list in case of my own demise and don’t want to roll over in my casket because of some hymn ;). I’m looking for something traditional, but I don’t know the names of the hymns. I’ll check for an index in the hymnal. Tim

I am not very informed on Music or titles either, but at my Papaw’s Funeral Mass, also my MIL’s and my sister’s, I remembered, “I am the Light of the World, he who Believes in Me shall not die”
It is a very fitting song for a Funeral Mass.

I just found this. junior.apk.net/~bmames/hymnsnj.htm

I always liked “Now Thank We All Our God”.

I have done Hosea at funeral masses…

When my beloved grandmother died (paternal), I selected the following for her funeral Mass (she died the week before Holy Week):

Entrance: Attended Domine
Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd…(I didn’t want that one, but my dad did, so he won).
Offertory: I Heard the Voice of Jesus
Communion: We Have Been Told
Recessional: Salve Regina (in Latin)

For me, I would like the following:

Entrance: Attended Domine
(But, if it’s Easter, Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today)
Psalm: With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Offertory: What Wondrous Love is This
Communion: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
(But, if it’s Easter, Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether)
Recessional: Salve Regina

I’m a musician for a lot of funerals. There are a couple generations of people who are dying out (between 40-80) and they always request the following. (These are not my choices, but those of the deceased or the family)

  • On Eagles Wings (no. 1 pick)
  • Amazing Grace (no. 2 pick)
  • Here I Am Lord (no. 3 pick)
  • Ave Maria (half and half - they request this even if there are no other requests)

We used to always get requests for a setting of the Irish Blessing, but I think that generation is pretty much gone now. It’s very rare.

Here is what the musicians sometimes choose when there are no “requests”. Families have actually approached us afterwards to tell us that they never heard some these hymns before, but they were so meaningful and beautiful. (Where I cantor for funerals is the cathedral, so people come from all over the diocese.)

  • What Wondrous Love is This
  • I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
  • The King of Love My Shepherd Is - St. Columbia tune (one of my favorites - Psalm 22-23)
  • Adoro Te Devote/God With Hidden Majesty (also one of my faves)
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
  • Lord of All Hopefulness
  • He Comes to Us as One Unknown
  • Panis Angelicus (hymn)

We also do a lovely and simple setting of “Receive His/Her Soul”

My uncle is a tenor and good soloist. He sung at my mom’s funeral. What would be a good choice for a tenor to do? Thanks, Tim

Well, I don’t know if all of these will be possible, but my IDEAL would be:

Entrance: O God Our Help In Ages Past
Psalm: I REALLY like Psalm 23 but I haven’t heard any good responsorial versions of it…
Offertory: Be Still, My Soul
Communion: The Strife is O’er
Recessional: Guide Me O, Thou Great Jehovah

Do you mean non-hymn like compositions? This is what I could think of so far.

There is a “Panis Angelicus” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Tenors and Sopranos sing it. In this sample, a boy soprano is singing it.


Ave Verum Corpus by Elgar:

If there is going to be a prayerful meditation for a Hail Mary,
Ave Maria by Gabriel Faure (This is scored for soprano or tenor. We actually had this for when we were with the Blessed Mother at our wedding)

Ave Maria by Cesar Franck (scored for soprano or tenor)

I have never thought about what I’d want for sacred music at my funeral until now, even though I sing for funerals all the time.

For me, if my family can’t hire competant musicians, I would prefer no music at all except to have someone chant the psalm, Gospel Acclamation and to have chanting for the parts of the mass. (I really don’t like most of the settings to the mass now-a-days. Some are ok, but there is one which I and many of my colleagues from various parishes or just my Catholic musician colleagues in general cannot stand. Thank goodness we don’t do it at our parish. I won’t say what it is, but we have a nickname for it, calling it the mass of destruction.)

If competant musicians could be hired for my funeral, I would want some movements of the Requiem mass by Maurice Durufle for organ and choir. I believe that the church no longer does Requiem masses (Why is that? They seem to be more meaningful. If they still did Requiem masses, this would be the mass setting) I’d want the Pie Jesu from that Requiem sung for my sending off at the end of the mass. I know, this is just an ideal. Durufle really knew how to incorporate the chants beautifully and perfectly into his compositions and still be extremely reverent with it.

I also love the Faure Requiem Mass (it’s an extremely close second), but the Durufle is my favorite.

I play about 30 funerals a year, and I would say I play “On Eagles Wings” for 28 of them! Sorry, Michael Joncas, I wish I wouldn’t have to play it ever again! Some of my favs are “Lord of all Hopefulness”
“How can I keep from singing” “The King of love my shepherd is”
“Shepherd Me O God” is almost as popular, but it hasn’t gotten on my nerves yet!
There is a setting of the song of farewell that is set to the “Danny boy” tune,(Londonderry air) that really helps when people want that. It is called “Celtic song of farewell”

Thanks for the links and idea’s. Tim

“How Great Thou Art” seems to be especially popular in my parish for funerals. “On Eagle’s Wings” is up there as well.

I personally can’t stand “How Great Thou Art”, because it seems the only time they ever do play it is for funerals. How depressing!

My aunt hijacked the music I had selected for my step-grandfather’s funeral. Well, after all, he was her father. Inasmuch as I didn’t really like him, I thought that he, at the very least, should have had decent funeral music. Instead, she opted for the St. Louis Jesuits stuff and Eagles’ Wings was one of them. I bit my tongue through the Mass, especially since the priest turned the homily into a eulogy.

At another funeral for a high school classmate of mine, the former director of our Cathedral children’s choir sang a little ditty called “Heaven Must Have Needed an Angel” for the Offertory. It was awful and one of the priests said that the song was theologically incorrect on so many levels. He also sang Eagles’ Wings, Pescador de Hombres and Entre Tus Manos. :eek: Every time I hear his music selections it reconfirms why he wasn’t invited to come and help with the children’s choir (which is now defunct).

Yes, that understandable… but I know exactly what you mean with family members or friends “hijacking” the liturgical music for funerals. I, thankfully, don’t have to be a part of that, but I hear the stories. The worst was a couple months ago. The cousin-in-law of the deceased really took over the lit. music even though the deceased and the wife of the deceased had expressed that they didn’t want any music. The family was fighting over it. The wife wanted to honor her husband’s wishes. The cousin-in-law kept insisting. They were going back and forth until the CIL got her way.

I understood why they eventually gave in when I met her the day of the funeral. What made it worse was that it was all about her. She wanted to sing along with me with the hymns. That was fine. I didn’t mind about that at all. Plus there were a hymn which we didn’t have music for in our repertoire, so she sang it. But if I didn’t sit away from her in the loft she just had to talk to me (I tried to let her know nicely that we were at mass), drop names, wander around in the loft. The only time she really appeared to pay attention was when her husband, a deacon, gave the homily. And of course, after that, she had to say proudly out loud for the organist and me to hear, “He gave a really good homily.” I was charitable towards her, but even the sextons mentioned to me afterwards that they noticed how she wanted center stage. I felt so badly for the wife and family of that deceased man.

Well, for my daughter’s funeral we chose:

Be Not Afraid
Shepherd Me, O God
Song of Farewell (May Flights of Angels)
Unless a Grain of Wheat
Christ Be Our Light

I personally have always loved Christmas music, so I’ve told my wife she has to slip in “We Three Kings” at my funeral:) I bet that would wake up any sleepers:) (and yes, I know it does not match a funeral in any way, shape, or form). For some reason, I’ve never been the biggest fan of “On Eagles Wings.”


lol if I happen to die around Christmastime, it would be pretty awesome to slip in “Silent Night.” Yes, even though it isn’t really related to death.