Songs and hymns for a Catholic funeral Mass

This is a selection of hymns which may be suitable to use for at Roman Catholic funeral Mass,

Some of the songs may also be appropriate at a funeral liturgy outside Mass, depending on the form of service you are using.

About music at Catholic funeral Masses

Some parishes insist that all funerals must use the traditional chants associated with each part of the Mass - and they usually have a music director, organist, choir or cantor who can play and sing these for you.  They may allow one or two favourite hymns to be included too.    Other priests or parishes are happy to have alternative settings of the official texts, or alternative hymns.   You need to ask the priest who will be celebrating the funeral what is allowed, and what resources are available.

If you are free to use alternative hymns, then the actual hymns which can be used vary widely - depending on what is known in the area.   The following lists aim to include hymns that are commonly known and used and which reflect Christian hope - but this doesn't guarantee that they are known in your area.    Ideally, ask the priest or parish music director for advice.

Note that this is simply a list of hymns - it does not include the other parts of a Catholic Mass which may be sung.  The Catholic funeral Mass planning template lists these.  Always ask your priest or musician about these, and choose Mass settings that are known locally.

Opening Hymn

This hymn unites the people who are present, and reminds them that they have come together to pray for the deceased.   If the congregation is expected to sing, then the opening hymn that is chosen should be one that they can and will sing well - because it sets the expectation for the rest of the service.

The traditional chant is Requiem æternam  / Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

Free-use hymns which may be used here include
Other suitable hymns, which may still be copyright, include:


In between the first reading and the gospel reading, a psalm is read or sung.   The Catholic funeral readings suggest a number of psalms -  choose one of them, and one of the musical settings of it.

Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd

Free-use settings:
Settings which may still be copyright:

Psalm 24 (25 in the USA) - To You O Lord I Lift up my Soul / Remember your mercy Lord 

Free-use settings:
  • To thee I lift my soul, O Lord - Scottish Psalter
  • Lord I Lift my Soul to Thee -
Settings which may still be copyright:
  • I Lift Up My Soul  - Manion
  • To You, O Lord - Alstott 
  • To You O Lord I Lift up my Soul - Haugen
  • To you, O Lord, I lift up my Soul - Scott Soper

Psalm 26 (27 in the USA) - The Lord is my light and my help 

Free-use settings:
  • TBA
Settings which may still be copyright:
  • The Lord is my Light and my Help - Inwood
  • The Lord is my Light and my Salvation - DeBruyn

Psalm 62 (63 in the USA) - My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God / O God, you are my God, for you I long 

Free-use settings:
  • TBA
Settings which may still be copyright:
  • My Soul Thirsts for You Lord – Hurd
  •  As Morning Breaks - Joncas
  • My Soul is Thirsting - Wilcox
  • Your Love Is Finer Than Life - Haugen

Psalm 102 (103 in the USA) - The Lord is Compassion and Love

Free-use settings:
  • TBA
Settings which may still be copyright:
  • Setting by Bear Music
  • The Lord is Kind and Merciful (Psalm 103) - settings by Haugen, Cotter, Willcock
  • CJM Music setting (ref)

Psalm 121 (122 in the USA) - I rejoiced when I heard them say: let us go to the house of the Lord

Free-to-use settings:
  • TBA
Settings which may still be copyright:
  • I Rejoiced when I |Heard them Say - Farrell
  • I Rejoiced - Boyce (ref)
  •  Let Us Go Rejoicing - Wilcox

Other Psalms

There are certain other Psalms are not inlcuded in the readings list, but which are popular for funerals.  They include:

Offertory and Communion

The offertory hymn is sung comes as gifts are gathered. It is optional, and may not be needed if this part of the ceremony is very simple.  The traditional offertory chant for funerals is Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriæ / Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory  (or some sources say it is Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem, requiem sempiternam / Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest, rest everlasting.)

The communion hymn offers time for reflection after Communion has been received. It is sometimes replaced with an instrumental piece of music.  The traditional communion  chant for funerals is Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine / May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,

Free use hymn suggestions for Offertory and Communion include:

Hymns which may still be copyright
For Communion only

Final Commendation

The traditional chant is Subvenite Sancti Dei / Saints of God, come to his (her) aid, come to meet him (her), angels of the Lord.

This is expressed as a spoken prayer, or sung.  A call / response setting of the prayer is shown in the Prayer of Farewell.

Free use hymn suggestions include:
    Hymns which may still be copyright
    • Blessing and Sprinkling - Haugen 
    • Come to His [Her] Aid oh Saints of God - Smolarski (ref)
    • Evening Hymn (Greek) - Storey
    • Faithful Vigil Ended - Dudley Smith (ref)
    • Farewell - Thwaites (ref)
    • Go, Silent Friend - Bell
    • How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place - Joncas
    • I Know That My Redeemer Lives - Soper
    • May Flights Of Angels - Quinn
    • May God Bless and Keep You - Walker
    • May Saints and Angels Lead You - ICEL
    • My God, My Father, Make Me Strong - Mann
    • O Come To Meet Him / Her Saints of God - Dufner (ref)
    • O Loving God - McCoy
    • Out Of Darkness - Walker 
    • Saints of God Come to His/Her Aid - O'Brien (ref)
    • Song of Farewell - Smolarski
    • Receive His/Her Soul - Fitzpatrick (ref)

    Recessional hymn

    This hymn occurs when the people present gather around the person who has passed away, and accompany them and their family from the church building.   If the people present are expected to sing, then it needs to be simple enough for them to sing while walking.
    The traditional chant is In paradisum / May the angels lead you into paradise.

    A free-use setting of this text is  May Holy Angels Lead You

    Other free-use hymns suitable here include:
    Hymns which may still be copyright
    Many of the suggested opening hymns may also be suitable here.

    How to include non-religious songs in church-funerals

    Sometimes, songs that are not religious or not appropriate for Mass are requested for funerals.   Some priests are not comfortable including them in a church service because they don't reflect hope in the resurrection

    One approach is to use this music at home, at the funeral parlour, at the graveside (or during the journey there, or at some other time during the day.  Alternatively, it may be possible to play an instrumental version - this requires carefully thinking about whether the non-religious associations of the lyrics overwhelm the tune.

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