Fenix Funeral shares with you: the top 50 funeral hymns
As we have so much experience helping people arrange funerals, we thought it would be useful to share what we’ve learned about choosing hymns for a service. These 50 popular funeral hymns cover a range of situations and moods, so hopefully you’ll find something here that’s suitable.
What’s included in this list
- Traditional hymns for a funeral
- Modern funeral hymns
- Uplifting and celebratory popular funeral hymns
- Christian funeral hymns
Traditional hymns for a funeral
A testimony to God’s grace and mercy, this hymn is also filled with hope and celebration. Recognisable and rousing, it’s a common choice all over the UK. We often hear that this is a highlight of a funeral.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
“Abide With Me”
From 1847, this hymn, written by Henry Francis Lyte, is a plea for God’s presence in challenging times of sadness and loss. It is a popular choice for funerals all over England and offers strength and resolve to those who sing it. Many choose it as a funeral entrance hymn.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When it comes to traditional funeral hymns and catholic funeral hymns, this is a very common choice: this 17th-century hymn is a prayer to the Virgin Mary, and a celebration of her maternal love, making it common at funerals for both mothers and grandmothers.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
“How Great Thou Art”
Originally written in Swedish, this is now a popular funeral hymn all over the UK as it reflects on the inspiring and comforting power of God. It’s sung at funerals where people want to express gratitude for the life that has been lived.
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
“Lead Kindly Light”
Written by John Henry Newman, this hymn expresses a need for guidance and protection in those times of sadness and darkness after the death of someone close to you. We find that this hymn offers a great deal of comfort to people.
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on! The night is dark,
and I am far from home; Lead thou me on…
“The Clouds’ Veil”
Written by Irish poet Padraic Colum, this is a common choice for those looking for Irish funeral hymns. It reflects on the temporary nature of our lives and the promise of eternal life in what will follow. We’ve always found this to be a welcome choice of funeral hymn for all kinds of funeral services.
Oh, the road to the graveside is drear, but beyond it a sun shines,
And the dead are at peace in the heart of the night that is star-studded and calm.
Also known as “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?” this funeral hymn is a stirring reminder of the ultimate destination of the soul after death – and the shared hope of reuniting with our loved ones who’ve passed away, which many people find deeply reassuring.
I am going home, to see my Lord,
I’m just going home;
Quietly to my rest, where the beauty of love abides.
“Ar Hyd y Nos” (All Through the Night)
From the 18th-century, this is a popular choice for Welsh funeral hymns. It’s a lullaby, often sung as a comfort to the bereaved. It speaks to how those who have passed will always be present in the hearts of those they left behind.
All through the night, day and night,
let me keep saying my prayers for you.
From 1873, this hymn, written by Fanny J. Crosby, reminds us all of the certainty of God’s love, and the hope of eternal life in heaven. While it’s common at funerals of all denominations, this is a particularly popular choice of Methodist funeral hymns in the UK.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
“Be Still, My Soul”
A classic and commonly-chosen hymn that speaks to the peace and comfort that comes from trusting in God. It’s recognisable (without being overplayed – which many people tell us is something they want to achieve when arranging a funeral).
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
“The Lord’s My Shepherd” (Psalm 23)
Based on Psalm 23, this hymn spreads a message of hope and speaks about the guidance that comes from trusting in God. Most people attending will know the words, which can be reassuring for people, as it brings them all together.
The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want.
He makes me down to lie In pastures green
He leadeth me The quiet waters by.
“The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended”
Written by John Ellerton in the 19th century (after witnessing a beautiful sunset while travelling on a ship in the Mediterranean), this hymn is typically sung to the tune “St. Clement” and is a popular choice for Christian funeral hymns all across the UK.
The day you gave us, God, is ended,
the darkness falls at your request.
To you our morning hymns ascended –
your praise shall sanctify our rest.
“Lead, Kindly Light”
Written by John Henry Newman in 1833 while he was on a journey from Italy to England, this is a long-cherished hymn - one of the most popular funeral hymns in the UK - with messages about faith, hope, and trust in God. It’s also relatively well-known, so should be easy to follow along during the funeral service.
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
lead Thou me on!
“Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer”
When it comes to hymns for the funeral mass, this powerful message of faith and trust in God resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds. William Williams wrote “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer” while he was travelling through the Welsh countryside.
”The Old Rugged Cross”
Written by evangelist and hymn writer George Bennard in 1912, after a period of deep personal struggle and loss, this hymn has a strong message of hope. It’s also about the redemption that came to us all through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.
Modern hymns for funerals
“On Eagles’ Wings”
From 1979, this hymn by Michael Joncas offers comfort and reassurance to all attendees at your loved one’s funeral, by speaking about God’s love and protection. A hymn we frequently recommend, even though it’s not commonly known.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
who abide in His shadow for life,
say to the Lord, ‘My refuge, my rock in whom I trust.’
Written in 1991, this hymn, by Bob Hurd, offers ideas of hope and comfort even during life’s challenging moments of loss. Its ideas about the paradise awaiting us after death offer strength and reassurance to those left behind.
In paradise, where every tear is wiped away,
where pain and death are lost in endless day,
I'll see my Lord and praise His name.
“In Christ Alone”
A modern hymn that offers a powerful declaration of faith in Jesus, and celebrates the hope he provides. In Christ Alone is one of the more popular funeral hymns for a Christian funeral service. It's also, however, one that’s enjoyed by all attendees at a funeral, regardless of their beliefs.
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
“Shine Jesus Shine”
A popular contemporary hymn written by British songwriter Graham Kendrick in 1987. The hymn speaks of the light of Jesus illuminating the darkness – and bringing hope and joy to those who believe in him even during challenging times.
Lord, the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me.
“I Watch the Sunrise”
Written while he was serving as a missionary in South Africa in the 1980s by John Glynn (an Irish priest), this hymn is popular for its beautiful melody that can lighten the mood even during a very sad occasion. It also comes with an inspiring message in its lyrics.
I watch the sunrise lighting the sky, casting its shadows near.
And on this morning, bright though it be, I feel those shadows near me.
But you are always close to me following all my ways.
May I be always close to you following all your ways, Lord.
“Lord of the Dance”
With lyrics written by Sydney Carter in 1963, this hymn is set to the traditional Shaker tune called “Simple Gifts,”. The hymn has become popular for Christian funeral services all over the UK, and has been covered by a number of artists.
Dance, then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.
“Love Divine All Loves Excelling”
With lyrics by Charles Wesley, this 1747 hymn is popular at a large range of church services, including baptisms and weddings, due to its message about finding salvation and peace through the love of God. A good choice for a funeral service that shouldn’t be too sombre.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
“Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”
A hymn written by Sebastian Temple in the 1960s, this is also the official anthem of the Royal British Legion. It has a relatively rousing tone and is one of the more common hymns for funerals of those who have served in the armed forces.
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
“I Watch The Sunrise”
A folk-style song from 1970 that’s often chosen by those looking for Anglican funeral hymns. Its sense of peace and reflection can bring comfort to those gathering together to remember and celebrate a much-missed loved one’s life.
But you are always close to me
Following all my ways.
May I be always close to you,
Following all your ways, Lord.
“The Servant King”
Written by Graham Kendrick in 1983, this hymn is chosen for funerals all over the UK, along with communion services too, thanks to its message of serving God. This could be suitable for a loved one who was devoted to Christianity their whole life.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
A rousing and modern hymn adapted from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, this is a common choice for UK funerals that want to feature hymns but also to bring in some less traditional tonality. It has a more modern feel than many so-called traditional hymns.
Going home, going home,
I’m just going home.
It’s not far, just close by;
Jesus is the Door.
“Be Not Afraid”
Written by Bob Dufford, a Jesuit priest, in 1975 this hymn is popular for those who want a funeral service for a loved one to include messages of encouragement, hope, and reassurance for those left behind. With strong imagery and poetic lyricism, many find this deeply moving.
If you pass through raging waters
In the sea, you shall not drown
If you walk amidst the burning flames
You shall not be harmed.
“Death is Only a Dream”
Originally written in the 1930s, there have been a number of recordings of this track, with some that are found suitable for funeral services in the UK when you’re looking for a mix of traditional and modern hymns.
I’ll say goodbye and leave you, and go to God on high,
I’ll sing his praise and tell him, in a better land on high,
I’ll meet you there in heaven, where love will never die,
And death is only a dream.
“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”
Although originally from 1887, this moving and rousing hymn have been recorded in a number of modern versions that are often played at funerals all over the UK. A song of surrender to God’s mercy and forgiveness, no matter what, it’s well-suited to commemorate the life of someone who lived a kind and gentle life.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
“I Know That My Redeemer Lives”
Originally from 1775, this song was adapted by Gordon Tomsett in 1967 in a version that feels modern and uplifting. Unlike many more traditional hymns, this has a more down-to-earth and simple feeling, along with relatively simple lyrics.
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living Head.
Uplifting and celebratory funeral hymns
“All Things Bright and Beautiful”
When it comes to uplifting, popular hymns at funerals, we find that this is the most frequently chosen. A celebration of the beauty and wonder of our planet, and is often sung at weddings and baptisms as well as funerals. And just about everyone should know it too.
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.
A celebration of the hope of a better life in heaven – this is also a patriotic hymn that’s sung at sporting events, so could be a good funeral hymn for dad or a funeral hymn for mum if they were into sports like rugby.
And did those feet in ancient time,
walk upon England's mountains green…
“I Vow to Thee, My Country”
Another tribute to England and a celebration of the love and loyalty that binds people together. A rousing song, it might help people overcome their grief on the day. Well suited to those who loved their country and wanted to be remembered as patriotic.
And there’s another country,
I’ve heard of long ago,
most dear to them that love her,
most great to them that know.
“Morning Has Broken”
Originally a folk song, this well-known and much-loved hymn is a celebration of the beauty of life, and that shared hope of new beginnings, even in the face of loss. A stirring tribute for your loved one, especially if they were someone who looked on the bright side of life.
Morning has broken, like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird;
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning;
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
Many people choose this as their funeral recessional hymn (also known as an exit hymn), given its message of gratitude and praise for the beauty and goodness of God’s creation, which encourages the congregation to go back out into the world with joy and gratitude in their hearts.
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
Written by Joachim Neander in 1680, this hymn is a joyful, moving expression of praise and thanksgiving to God. It’s often used as a recessional hymn in Christian funeral services – which means it's played at the end of a service.
Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
“I’ll Fly Away”
This more upbeat funeral hymn has a message about the promise of eternal life, speaking to the joy of passing into the afterlife and the hope of being reunited with loved ones who have already passed away. Its imagery is warm, uplifting, and can help elevate the mood.
Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away;
To that home on God's celestial shore,
I’ll fly away. I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away.
“Lord Of All Hopefulness”
An Irish traditional-style hymn, this is common at funerals in the UK, and also weddings and baptisms, due to its uplifting message about asking God to stand by us, no matter what. A good choice to remember those who were loyal, kind, and true.
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by Gloria Gaynor
While hymns are religious songs, many people consider using non-religious funeral hymns or songs in the service for their loved one or family member, as this can help celebrate the life they lived and connect with those attendees who do not follow a religion. This song is a moving and inspiring choice.
I never can say goodbye
Oh, no, I
I never can say goodbye.
“Alleluia, sing to Jesus!”
A well-known Christian hymn written in 1866, this is often sung during Easter, as well as at funerals, due to its celebratory tone and lyrics. So we find it’s a good choice if you’re looking to create a funeral that’s about remembering the best of a loved one.
Alleluia, not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia, he is near us,
Faith believes, nor questions how.
Christian funeral hymns
“O God Our Help In Ages Past”
Written by Isaac Watts, this hymn has a message about how short life can seem, but how that sadness can be countered by the infinite love and care of God – a love which shines on us all, even in those darker and more challenging moments.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
“The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Has Ended”
Written in 1870 by Vicar John Ellerton, this hymn is often sung at the end of the day, or the end of a life. People find its message about God’s boundless love reassuring during a time of grief
So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like Earth’s proud empires, pass away –
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.
“Immortal Invisible God Only Wise”
Written in 1867, this is a popular hymn across many Christian denominations, and chosen for its messages about celebrating God’s power and wisdom. People find that its lyrics about both nature and Christianity are reassuring during their grief.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
“In Heavenly Love Abiding”
Written by Anna Laetitia Waring in 1850, this is a popular hymn across all Christian denominations, and is chosen for services in which attendees will be comforted by singing about the trust and confidence they have in God’s care.
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
“Be Thou My Vision”
A hymn with a long and rich history, this originated in Ireland in the eighth century. Its poetic language and beautiful melody can help inspire devotion and trust in God during a difficult time – which is why people all over the UK choose it.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.
“We cannot care for you the way we wanted”
Written by John L Bell for services commemorating the death of a baby or young child, this is a deeply moving but also hopefully reassuring choice at such a challenging time. The writer is a Church of Scotland minister, so this is also a common choice for funeral hymns in Scotland.
We cannot care for you the way we wanted
or cradle you, or listen for your cry…
“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
Written by John Greenleaf Whittier in the 19th century, based on a passage from Kings, this hymn has a stirring tune and is as common for celebratory events like weddings as it is for funerals in the UK. If you’re looking for an uplifting Christian hymn, this is well worth considering.
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
“It is Well with My Soul”
Written by Horatio Spafford, a successful lawyer and businessman who suffered a personal tragedy, this hymn expresses deep love for a departed person, as well as faith and trust in God’s goodness.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
“Holy, Holy, Holy”
A stirring Christian hymn written by Reginald Heber (an Anglican bishop), which celebrates the mystery of the Trinity – with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being praised as one divine being. A good reminder, during a difficult time, of the foundation of Christianity.
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
“Great is Thy Faithfulness”
Written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923, this hymn celebrates God’s unchanging nature, and His unfailing love and compassion, even when we’re facing life’s most challenging moments of loss.
And don’t forget, as well as Christian funerals, Fenix is here for everyone in the UK – for example, you might be interested in these Sikh funeral hymns.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!