When choosing hymns for a funeral service it’s often difficult to know where to start, as there are so many hymns to choose from. We’ve sung at over 150 Catholic funeral masses and funeral services, so here’s some help for choosing funeral hymns.
Our top 10 most popular Catholic funeral hymns are:
1 – 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.
2 – 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:
- where the chorus “O master grant…” is sung after each of the first 2 verses
- 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 – 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.
4 – 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.
5 – 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
6 – 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.
7 – 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 a short clip.
8 – Soul of my saviour
Sung to the tune Anima Christi
This lovely classic Catholic hymn has been in use from hundreds of years. the text (in Latin) dates back to the 14th century.
It is most often sung during the offertory or communion.
9 – This is my body
by Peter Jacobs
This hymn first appeared in a Christian Musical called “The Witness”
This lilting song is perfect for communion.
10 – As I kneel before you
by Maria Parkinson
The song was used when Pope John Paul II visited Liverpool Cathedral in 1982. And has been widely used on pilgrimages to places such as Lourdes.
Often sung as the entrance hymn or during communion. With a lovely lilting tune this modern version of Ave Maria is very popular for Marian funerals.
To see more popular hymns and songs for Catholic funerals on our Catholic Countdown blog.