Laying a loved one to rest is one of the most difficult experiences we face in life. In times of grief, we often turn to our faith and find comfort in the familiar words and melodies of Catholic hymns and songs. Music has a unique ability transcend words and touch our hearts in ways that provide hope, solace and courage.
As a pastor guiding families through funeral preparations, I am often asked for recommendations on musical selections for the service. The songs we choose during this tender time should reflect our beliefs, provide a meaningful message, and honor the lives of the departed. With that in mind, I would like to suggest 25 Catholic funeral songs that I have found to be appropriate and helpful in times of grieving.
Traditional Catholic Hymns
- Ave Maria – The beautiful lyrics ask the Virgin Mary for blessings and are a special tribute to the Mary’stender grace.
- In Paradisum – This chant offers the hope that the departed will find eternal rest and peace in heaven. It is often sung as the body leaves the church.
- Salve Regina: This Marian hymn, meaning “Hail Holy Queen,” recognizes the Virgin Mary’s merciful role as the heavenly queen who guides us through difficult times.
- Ave Verum Corpus: This short Eucharistic hymn has lyrics describing Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, bringing solace through his promise of everlasting life for those who believe.
Songs of Hope
- On Eagles Wings – This contemporary song is based on Psalm 91, speaking of God’s protecting presence and promise to deliver us from evil.
- Be Not Afraid – Memorializing Christ’s reassuring words, this song reminds us we need not fear with the Lord by our side both in life and death.
- Here I am, Lord. Recalling God’s faithful presence and guidance, this hymn is a declaration that we will follow where He calls us.
Songs Honoring Saints
- Hail Mary, gentlewoman! Paying tribute to the Blessed Mother, this folk-style song recognizes Mary for her grace and maternal protection.
- Prayer of St. Francis – Based on the saint’s writings, this song speaks of being an instrument of God’s peace through a life of service grounded in love.
- O St. Joseph – Honoring Christ’s earthly father who served as protector of the church, this song recognizes Joseph’s noble commitment to family and faith.
Songs of Praise
- Holy God We Praise Thy Name – A traditional Catholic hymn exalting God for His glory and majesty. The strong melody and lyrics call us to offer joyful worship of our Creator.
- How Great Thou Art – This popular hymn marvels at God’s power displayed through His wondrous works in nature and declares our heartfelt praise.
- Sing with All the Saints in Glory: Offering a vision of saints gathered in endless song around God’s throne, this robust hymn is a victory song celebrating Christ’s triumph over death.
Songs for Christ’s Sacrifice
- Jesus Remember Me: Based on the penitent thief’s dying plea, this Taize refrain song is a humble appeal for Christ to remember us when He comes into His kingdom.
- O Sacred Head Surrounded – Originating from medieval poetry, this solemn hymn poetically reflects on Christ’s passion and sacrificial death on the cross as we share in His suffering.
- Were You There – Spiritual with roots in African American churches, this song vividly retells Christ’s crucifixion from the perspective of one who kept vigil and bears witness.
Songs of Comfort
- Shepherd Me, O God—Drawing on Psalm 23, this soothing song is a plea for God to shepherd us through life’s darkest valleys as a caring protector.
- On Eagle’s Wings: Offering images of God lifting us up as on an eagle’s wings, this reassuring hymn reminds us of His abiding comfort and presence.
- I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say – Based on Christ’s invitation in the Gospel of Matthew, this gentle hymn calls us to bring our burdens and find living water and rest.
Songs Honoring Mary
- Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above: This majestic hymn imagines all creation praising the heavenly Queen, who intercedes on our behalf as the mother of the Lord.
- Immaculate Mary – Also known as the Lourdes Hymn, this song exalts the sinless Virgin Mary appearing to Bernadette and offering miraculous cures as a sign of hope.
- Ave Maria – Franz Schubert’s iconic interpretation of this Catholic prayer is widely recognized across faith traditions as a moving tribute to the Blessed Mother.
Songs of Resurrection
- Jesus Christ is Risen Today – Opening with “Alleluia,” this rousing Easter hymn joyfully proclaims Christ’s triumphant victory over death and the promise of eternal life for believers.
- I Know That My Redeemer Lives – A soaring affirmation of faith in the risen Savior who defied death and opened the gates of heaven, granting us everlasting joy beyond the grave.
- The Strife is O’er – Boldly declaring Christ’s conquest of death on the cross and over the tomb, this celebratory song recognizes that the battle over sin and evil has been won!
This collection features both traditional and contemporary songs rooted in Catholic teachings that honor your loved one’s faith while providing reassurance through their difficult loss. I hope these musical selections offer some measure of peace and solace during your time of grief. Our parish is dedicated to walking beside you in the days ahead.
May God grant you strength and the blessings of fond memories as you celebrate the life of your beloved family member or friend.
Korean Community Church Of New Jersey