Choosing hymns for a funeral service can seem daunting with so much choice. We’ve been keeping our records watching the popularity of hymns over the years. So for 2021, our top Catholic funeral hymn chart saw the return of a few favourites along with some new entries. Read on to see if your favourite funeral hymn made the list.

Our top 10 Catholic funeral hymns for 2021 were:

10 – Jerusalem

Composed by Sir Hubert Parry

In 1918 the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) adopted ‘Jerusalem’ as the Women Voters’ Hymn.

‘Jerusalem’s’ popularity is largely due to the wonderful tune by Parry. Known as a ‘good sing’, it’s a rousing, uplifting hymn that carries the singers along. As the hymn has been very popular since 1917 it is embedded in the psyche of many. Even if you have not sung it before, it’s surprising how much you know once you begin to sing it!

9 – I, the Lord of sea and sky (Here I am Lord)

Written by Dan Schutte, based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3

This hymn has 3 verses and refrain. The international Catholic magazine listed the hymn as a readers’ favourite, and it’s certainly a popular choice for our clients.

It has a joyous feel and would be suitable as an entrance or exit funeral hymn.

8 – Go Silent friend

The tune is the traditional Irish melody Londonderry Air 

The words are by John L Bell and are particularly apt for a funeral mass. This hymn is also a great way to get a non-religious Irish song into a Catholic Mass, as the tune is is known by so many as ‘Danny Boy’. 

Works well as the second hymn for communion or as the recessional.

7 – Abide with me

Written by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte. It is most often sung to the tune “Eventide” by William Henry Monk

So popular this hymn has endured through the years as one of peace and prayer offering comfort and hope in the face of change.

Often sung at the beginning of the funeral mass.  

6 – This is my body

Witten by Jimmy Owen. 

The tune is soft and lilting, sung at either the offertory or communion.

5 – The Lord’s my shepherd

Sung to the tune Crimond

This most popular funeral hymn is based on the words of Psalm 23. The hymn is very well known and has been sung by many at school, and has been sung at many notable Royal occasions.

During the mass this is often sung in place of reading the Psalm.

4 – Make me a channel of your peace

Written by Sebastian Temple, based on the Prayer of St Francis

This popular hymn is also used as the anthem for Royal British Legion. It has 3 verses and a chorus. There are two different versions:

  1. where the chorus “O master grant…” is sung after each of the first 2 verses
  2. when sung only once, after the second verse (this is how the music was originally composed). The chorus is so nice to sing that repeating it with both verses is a pleasure!

3 – How great Thou art

Sung to a Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg (1859–1940) in Mönsterås, Sweden, in 1885

This hymn has had a worldwide birth, so to speak. Swedish tune, translated into German. Then translated from German to Russian, then from Russian to English.

At one stage this hymn was voted as the UK’s favourite hymn by “Songs of Praise”. Many popular singers have made recordings. Elvis Presley’s version is dear to many.

This hymn has a great climax and is often sung as the last hymn for a Catholic requiem mass

2 – Amazing grace

Sung to the tune New Britain

Words written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807)

Amazing Grace is one of the most beloved hymns of the last two centuries and is estimated to be performed 10 million times annually and has appeared on over 11,000 albums. It really is in people’s psyche, so no wonder it is a popular request at funerals.

Newton was brought up as a Catholic but became an Anglican clergyman. His mother was a devout Independent unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. Does this explain the hymn’s popularity with Catholics? Or is it more to do with familiarity?

We are most often asked to sing this hymn for many catholic cremation services.

1 – I watch the sunrise lighting the sky

Written by John Glynn

This folk-style hymn is about God’s presence throughout life’s seasons.

A very gentle tune and the words have great meaning for a funeral service. This hymn works as a solo as well and is perfect to be sung at communion.

Of all 10 hymns this is a particular favourite of mine. Should you want it sung at a funeral, give us a call.

Here’s our playlist, if you want a jog your memory on the tunes.

Click the play button, and the player will load. To see all the videos in the list click the ‘hamburger’ at the top

To see more popular hymns and songs for Catholic funerals read our other blogs