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Most Popular Funeral Songs for an Older Generation

Funerals can be tricky. Between paying attention to religious traditions, noting what the deceased has asked for regarding their memorial service, checking with family members and reaching a consensus and planning the actual event, there's a lot to handle when planning a funeral. This can be especially challenging if you're dealing with the grief of a recent loss, as the added burden of planning can leave you with no time to connect with your feelings.

Some things might be straightforward - you might know what church to have the funeral at, you might have chosen a celebration of life or you even have the guest list already planned. But what about the smaller details that weren't thought about in advance? How do you know whether or not to include catering or what songs to play at the funeral - or even if you should play songs at a funeral?

At OneWorld Memorials, we're here to offer you any advice we can to make the process easier. This includes walking you through how to select music for a funeral and whether or not you should play music at all. Here's our guide to choosing popular funeral songs for an older generation.

Should Music Be Played at a Funeral?

Funerals can be an incredibly sad experience. Maybe you've been to a funeral where no music was played at all, or the songs were religious or played on an organ. While these are common and traditional choices, more individuals are choosing to play modern music from popular bands at funerals - as these songs can more accurately reflect the emotion of the situation and can help a funeral feel less stuck in tradition. Similarly, more and more people are opting for celebrations of life instead of funerals. A celebration of life is a memorial event that chooses to celebrate the life of the deceased and eschews some of the traditions of funerals in favor of a more cheerful outlook. For more information about celebrations of life, be sure to check out our article that explains them.

Whether you're planning a celebration of life or just want to bring a bit of modernity to a funeral, playing contemporary music can help people connect and feel more comfortable in what can be an incredibly difficult environment. Whether or not you choose to play music at a funeral should depend upon the wishes of the deceased, the wishes of the family and the atmosphere you're trying to set for the funeral itself.

Songs to Play at a Funeral for an Older Generation

So maybe you've determined that playing music at a funeral is right for the environment, or maybe you're just curious about what songs could be played at a funeral. Whether you're looking for songs for funerals for dad or a lost mother or an older loved one, there are many unique songs that could be played at a funeral for an older individual. We've broken down some of the most popular choices below.

In the Arms of an Angel, Sarah McLachlan

You might already be familiar with the lyrics of the first song on our list. In the Arms of an Angel is a classic, somber tune from Sarah McLachlan, released in 1997. This is one of the more modern songs on our list, but its recognizability and emotional journey have made it one of the most - if not the most - popular funeral songs.

My Way, Frank Sinatra

Many consider Frank Sinatra to be the best singer of all time. My Way by Sinatra is considered one of his best songs, and its themes of reflecting upon a fulfilling life and meeting one's end with grace and dignity have made this song a popular funeral song for decades. Released in 1969, this classic song is one that people will recognize and remember - and it can be a touching tribute to a well-lived life.

My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion

While many recognize My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion as the song from Titanic, this recognition doesn't change how impactful, graceful and beautiful this song is. In fact, it could be said that it strengthens its message of hope and resilience in the face of difficulty. This popular funeral song was recorded in 1997, making it the second more modern funeral song to make the list. Nonetheless, it has been used at funerals since its release.

Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen

There are many versions of the song Hallelujah, but the recording by Leonard Cohen is the original - and considered by many to be the most emotional and beautiful. This classic song speaks to the romance and mystery of life, with a recognizable refrain that's both emotionally charged and stunningly beautiful. The version sung by Leonard Cohen, as well as the versions sung by Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley have all proven popular choices for funerals. Each has its own unique atmosphere, so listen to each and decide which might be best.

Amazing Grace, Judy Collins

A classic hymn, Amazing Grace, as sung by Judy Collins, is one of the most recognizable versions of the song. This version was released in 1970 and has been endlessly popular since its release - both as a funeral song and as a religious remembrance. Collins' version features no instruments and only a choir that assists her throughout the song. What results is a beautiful experience that calls upon people to gather together and sing.

There are many other options for popular funeral songs that we didn't cover here. From Somewhere Over the Rainbow to We'll Meet Again, the list of songs that could be played is endless. With these suggestions as a jumpstart, try thinking about what kind of person your lost loved one is - and what kind of music they would want to be played at their funeral. Discovering the rest of the songs can become a touching experience, reminding you of the times you shared and what made that person special to you.