Choosing funeral songs is often seen as an important part of personalising a funeral service for your loved one. It is a chance for you to pay tribute to their personality, their hobbies, or simply say farewell with one of their favourite songs.
While classical music or funeral hymns have traditionally been the funeral music of choice, pop ballads, TV theme tunes and happy funeral songs have become some of the most popular funeral songs in recent years in the UK.
Here we take a look at 20 of the most popular funeral songs in the UK to honour the memory of a loved one.
This iconic tune opened every episode of all 31 series of Last of the Summer Wine, the classic BBC sitcom about a trio of mischievous old friends living in West Yorkshire. Beloved by many, the programme was praised for showing that later life is still full of adventure. It’s nostalgic melody makes it a popular funeral song for a loved one who loved the show.
A moving and uplifting funeral song , Canon in D is the most celebrated piece by composer Johann Pachelbel, and perhaps one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever. It’s now a favourite at weddings and funerals alike, loved for its gentle tone and beautiful harmonies.
Celine Dion performing in Birmingham in 2017. Photo via Wikimedia.
Best known for its appearance on the Titanic soundtrack, this song is, for many people, the ultimate ballad about eternal love. It’s sad and beautiful, but also offers a reminder that remembrance can keep a loved one close even after they’re gone, making it a great choice for funeral music.
This upbeat tune was used as the theme for the BBC’s Test Cricket Highlights for many years, making it popular funeral music for lifelong cricket fans. Apart from its sporting associations, this cheerful song is the audio equivalent of a ray of sunshine – perfect for celebration of life funerals.
Another sporting anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone is the flagship song of Liverpool Football Club and known by heart by every true fan. It is also a song about hope through adversity and solidarity in the hardest of times, making it a touching addition to a funeral service.
Robbie Williams performing in London in 2016. Photo by Drew de F Fawkes.
Robbie Williams’ classic pop ballad Angels, co-written by Guy Chambers, is an endlessly popular choice for funeral music, thanks to its poetic lyrics and powerful melody. Surprisingly, it only reached number 4 in the UK charts when it was released in 1997, but by 2005 had been voted the song that most Brits wanted played at their funeral.
A stirring piece of classical music from one of Britain’s most treasured composers, Nimrod is deeply moving, both sad and hopeful. It has long been thought to be a dedication to Elgar’s close friend AJ Jaeger, who helped him through difficult times.
An absolute classic, My Way had previously been the number one funeral song for many years running, according to the Co-op’s annual funeral music survey. For good reason too – it’s the ultimate tribute to a life well-lived: “I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and every highway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way.”
Boyzone performing live in 2015. Photo via Wikimedia.
Originally written for the musical version of Whistle Down the Wind, No Matter What was recorded by Boyzone in 1998 and shot to number one in the UK charts. This ballad of enduring love and determination has remained a popular funeral song since its initial chart success.
The UK is a nation of football fanatics, as proved by the popularity of this theme song. It’s the opening tune to one of the BBC’s longest running shows, having started in 1964 and is an iconic melody for anyone who follows football. As a result, it’s a popular funeral song for devoted footie fans.
This song from the Monty Python film Life of Brian is irresistibly catchy and cheerful, many Brits want this song for their own funerals, perhaps to tell one last joke or as a genuine attempt to make their grieving loved ones smile on what would otherwise be a joyless day. The popularity of this funeral song shows that Brits can’t help but poke fun at themselves.
12. Hello by Adele
Adele performing in Birmingham on her 2016 tour. Photo via Wikimedia.
Although this ballad is about a break up, Adele’s powerful vocals and a memorable melody has made this a popular song for funerals. Indeed, several of Adele’s heartfelt love songs have become a significant moment at many people’s funerals since she first hit the charts.
This powerful and emotionally raw ballad directly addresses the longing and despair of missing someone you love. Since its release in 2014 it’s been embraced by the nation as one of its most popular funeral songs and a heartfelt way to say goodbye.
Rihanna’s evocative 2012 hit makes a fitting celebration of the life for someone special. The imagery of diamonds and stars has made this tune the perfect funeral song for someone whose memory will shine bright long after they are gone.
Ellie Goulding performing in Stavern in July 2016. Photo by Tore Sætre.
Originally recorded by The Waterboys, Ellie Goulding’s stripped back and beautiful version of this song was the official song of the 2013 Children in Need campaign. It’s about unconditional and eternal love, and is a wonderful tribute to a special relationship as a piece of funeral music.
One of Westlife’s best-loved songs, Flying Without Wings is a tribute to the power of true love. The popularity of this chart-topping hit as a funeral song may be down to its uplifting lyrics. It’s a song about celebrating and acknowledging the good in life, rather than mourning.
The hip hop song See You Again featured on the soundtrack of the 2015 film Furious 7. It was written as a tribute to one of the film’s stars, actor Paul Walker, who tragically died before filming was completed. It became one of the most popular songs on YouTube, with over three billion views, and its touching subject matter has made it a popular funeral song.
Westlife at the Nobel Peace Price Concert 2009. Photo by Harry Wad.
Originally written and released by Irish-Norwegian band Secret Garden, Westlife had a number one hit with this song in 2005. It is also now sung as a contemporary hymn in some churches. It’s an emotional but ultimately uplifting funeral song about finding hidden strength in difficult times.
Originally sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, this song has been performed by numerous artists, including Eva Cassidy and Ariana Grande. Its wistful lyrics and beautiful melody have made it a moving and popular choice for a funeral song to remember a loved one.
This Italian song was made famous by renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli in 1995, who also teamed up with English soprano Sarah Brightman in 1996 to release a version of the song partly sung in English. The song’s poweful melody and heart-wrenching lyrics have secured its place as one of the most popular songs for funerals.