Hymns are one of the most popular choices of music for funerals in the U.S., and not just for devoted church-goers either. Many people find comfort in including religious songs in their loved one’s service and certain hymns have remained popular funeral song choices over the years.
Here we run down 10 popular funeral hymns that could be a beautiful addition to your loved one’s funeral service.
1. Amazing Grace
This stirring song is sometimes played or accompanied by bagpipes at funerals. Its message is of salvation and finding peace after death: “Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.” It was one of the beautiful hymns played at Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral in 2011.
2. Victory in Jesus
Written by gospel singer Eugene Monroe Bartlett in 1939, Victory in Jesus is a joyous hymn about trusting in Jesus’ love and the promise of Heaven in the afterlife. This is an ideal hymn if you want an uplifting message of hope and salvation.
3. Go Rest High on That Mountain
This moving funeral song, recorded by Vince Gill in 1995, is a favourite with Christians and country music lovers. It balances the acknowledgement that losing a loved one is heart-breaking (“Oh, how we cried the day you left us”), with the belief that they are going to join God.
4. Be Thou My Vision
This traditional Irish hymn dates all the way back to the 6th Century, and was translated into English by Eleanor Hull in 1912. It’s a song about trusting in God and asking for guidance in times of need, making it a popular choice for funerals.
5. Here I Am Lord
This modern Christian hymn was written by American composer Dan Schutte in 1981. It’s based on Bible passages from Isaiah and Samuel and the words of this hymn speak of offering oneself up to God as a servant.
6. Ave Maria
Meaning ‘Hail Mary’ in Latin, this hymn has been performed by many famous singers and adapted by several different composers. The most famous tune the words are sung to is written by Schubert. Praised as one of the most beautiful pieces of religious music ever written, it was among the music played at President Kennedy’s funeral.
7. Great is Thy Faithfulness
With lyrics written by Kentucky songwriter Thomas Chisholm and music by Christian composer William M. Runyan, Great is Thy Faithfulness is based on the Bible's Book of Lamentations 3:23. It talks of God’s constancy and his continuing love.
8. Blessed Assurance
Published in 1873 in Palmer’s Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany, New York, this beautiful hymn has become one of the nation’s favorites. Like many hymns for funerals, it emphasizes faith in God and devotion to Him in the face of trials and tribulations.
9. Till the Storm Passes By
This hymn says so much at a funeral, as it gives the message that through the most difficult of times, faith can help you through: “But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I'll rise/ Where the storms never darken the skies.”
10. Old Rugged Cross
Often performed in a country style, Old Rugged Cross is a song with a sweet melody celebrating Jesus Christ and a dedication to serving God: “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down.”
If you are planning a loved one’s funeral, you can check out our collection of funeral hymns for more ideas.