When planning a loved one’s funeral (or even your own), leaving the music to the last minute is no way to pay your full respects. Music is a balm for the soul and soothes even the unhappiest of hearts, so it’s important to choose the best songs for the funeral.
Still, there are so many beautiful and appropriate songs out there in the world, and each would be a wonderful choice. How do you pick the perfect playlist?
We’ve curated the best instrumental funeral songs to help make this transition a little bit easier.
30 Best Instrumental Songs for Funerals
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1. Hope by Neil Patton (2015)
This solo piano piece is so lovely. It brings to mind a simple time and calming mood. The gentle melody and simple chords would make a wonderful addition to a slide show, the background music before the ceremony begins, a memorial table with a guestbook, or playing on a loop in the lobby.
2. Holy is His Name by The O’Neil Brothers Group (2015)
This instrumental version of the classic and beloved hymn is the perfect start to your loved one’s celebration of life. People will find themselves singing along and wiping joyful tears from their eyes as this lovely instrumental plays. And at right under 3 minutes, it’s a great length to play while the family members are seated at the beginning of the ceremony.
3. It Is Well by Greg Howlett (2009)
The classic hymn reminds every listener that all is not lost, they are in a better place, and, through Christ, it can be well with their soul. This gentle version of the beloved hymn will feel like balm to a hurting heart. Get ready to hear most people humming along as they remember the poetic words.
4. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (1992)
A more modern yet completely timeless addition to our instrumental funeral song list, Tears in Heaven is an absolute classic in its own right. Especially appropriate for the rock ‘n roll lover, or anyone who adored 70s and 80s rock, this song will have you feeling all the feels, and in all the best ways.
5. Holocene by Bon Iver (2011)
Like a soothing watercolor painting but for the ears. This gentle melody brings to mind waterfalls and a warm spring day. Popular for weddings, this song by Bon Iver is also a wonderful addition to a funeral: it’s not too sad and hits all the right notes.
6. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975)
Not every loved one wants to be memorialized to the sounds of classical music. For the more hardcore music lovers out there, this rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is heaven-sent.
The guitar brings a more cutting edge sound to the sweet melody. Definitely a contender for the rule-breaker, rock-loving, on-the-edge special person that you will miss forever!
7. Traumerei by Robert Schumann (1838)
Composed in 1838, this classical tune could not be anymore beautiful and timeless today. The violin is at once stirring and blissful, and the melody is so calming and peaceful. A truly gorgeous rendition of this stunning little piece.
8. Angels by Robbie Williams (1997)
This instrumental version of the song Angels, by Robbie Williams, is so lovely and stirring to the soul that you won’t even miss the lyrics. The piano combines with the tambourine and builds to a crescendo in such a lovely yet altogether fitting surprise. A little bit more rock than classical, this is a great selection for a younger audience.
9. Halo by Beyoncé (2008)
If your loved one adored modern music, they will absolutely be looking down on you while you play Halo with clapping hearts and singing along! This pop classic will have everyone smiling through their tears, whether it’s early on in the ceremony or closing it out.
10. Nocturne by Neil Patton (2015)
This solo piano piece by Neil Patton will pull at your heartstrings, evoking memories, laughter, sadness, and tears. In all the best ways, of course, as Patton always does with his magical playing. It feels like coming to church!
11. Wind Beneath My Wings by Carl Doy (1992)
When it’s your best friend or sibling, this beautiful instrumental version of Wind Beneath My Wings is a must-add to your song list. People will instantly recognize the tune and want to hum along as they remember your special person who inspired you to be better than you ever thought you could be.
12. Wild at Heart by Lana Del Rey (2021)
This strumming instrumental version of Lana Del Rey’s song Wild at Heart will tug at all the right heartstrings. A gentle and sweet song that is the perfect background if your funeral is casual and slightly boho in feel. A great one for outdoors and more casual than your typical classical music piece.
13. Spanish Dance No. 2 by Enrique Granados (1890)
The Spanish Dance No 2 by composer and guitarist Enrique Granados and played skillfully by Denian Arcoleo is a masterful and emotional piece. It brings more of a stylized flair to your funeral songs and is a nice choice for something just a little bit different, without being too rambunctious or distracting.
14. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (1992)
Leave no doubt of just when you will stop loving them with this modern classic by the one and only Whitney Houston. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single person at the funeral who doesn’t know each and every word (and want to sing along). This gorgeous song, originally by Dolly Parton, will bring smiles and hugs to the ceremony.
15. Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis (2007)
This instrumental version of Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis would be flawless in the background as a slideshow plays. Or as you lovingly seat the family members! This pretty piano song is a great addition anywhere you choose to place it: it’s not immediately recognizable yet seems somehow familiar all at once.
16. In the Garden by The Music of David Phillips (2000)
In the Garden is a beloved hymn that has gorgeous words, but this instrumental version is somehow just as pretty! It’s at once soothing, calming, yet also builds to a gentle crescendo that will bring a smile to everyone’s faces, even through the tears. Walking with Jesus through the garden… We love this one for an outdoor service with plenty of flowers.
17. Unity by Neil Patton (2012)
This gentle piece of melodious art is just the thing for a quiet ceremony. It’s rich in tone, but calming as well. We can see this playing as you light candles for your loved one, or raise a toast in their memory, or as each guest signs the guestbook.
18. Amazing Grace by Jeff Victor & Rebecca Arons (2014)
A wonderful send-off to eternity with the Lord just would never be complete without the addition of this much-loved hymn. In fact, is there another religious song that even the non-religious sing along to more than Amazing Grace? This version is so sweet and simple, heartfelt and stirring, that everyone will be moved to happy tears, knowing their special someone is in a better place.
19. You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban (2003)
One of Groban’s very first hits and for good reason, You Raise Me Up is a wonderful choice to play for a loved one who always and forever inspired you. This instrumental version is so recognizable and heartwarming that everyone will find themselves remembering the lyrics and relating them to the wonderful person they lost. A truly dramatic (in all the best ways) piece for your consideration.
20. Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach (1723)
A classic for a reason, this beloved piece by J.S. Bach is always a good idea. It’s immediately recognized and will feel appropriately respectful and professional. A wonderful piece to play during a procession.
21. Who You’d Be Today by Kenny Chesney (2005)
This great country song by legend Kenny Chesney is played without the lyrics in this simple and pretty instrumental version. When your loved one has been taken too soon, you can find comfort in this soothing rendition that wonders who they would be today had they not left us so early.
22. Hello by Adele (2015)
This instrumental version of Adele’s Hello is so pretty we don’t even miss her voice. It’s calming and peaceful, giving the soul a chance to relax, the sadness to turn to good memories, and the despair to become acceptance.
23. Wash. by Bon Iver (2011)
This lush version of Bon Iver’s Wash is almost playful and childlike, making it a great choice for a celebration of life. It has a peaceful quality and will blend in beautifully with your flower arrangements, ceremony guests, and refreshments.
24. “Air” from The Holberg Suite for Piano by Edvard Grieg (1884)
This pretty version of Air from The Holberg Suite for Piano is a really lovely accompaniment to a procession, or at the gravesite. It has the right amount of drama and crescendo but is still gentle and soothing, not to mention sweet and memorable.
25. Fix You by Coldplay (2005)
Not all good funeral music was written in the 1800s! This version of Fix You by Coldplay is instrumental, giving it a modern classic twist. It’s a pretty background song to your guests walking in, signing the guestbook, or fixing their plates of refreshments.
26. How to Disappear by Lana Del Rey (2019)
This song by Lana Del Rey has a gentle yet relentless beat. It’s the perfect addition to a funeral that is less classic and more modern in taste. A great piece for the slide show or memory table, or to play as the guests mingle and reminisce.
27. Wonderwall by Oasis (2013)
Another modern classic, Wonderwall by Oasis is instantly recognized by your guests! They’ll love remembering where they were when this song came out and what it represents. When your loved one loved modern pop and rock, but didn’t really “get” classical music, this is the kind of song you want to have played for them.
28. Hero by Mariah Carey (1993)
How has it been so long since this song came out? Well, it became an instant classic for a reason. If you are planning the funeral of someone special to you – like your very own hero – this song is a must-have addition.
29. The Long Goodbye by Neil Patton (2015)
This melodic piano piece by Neil Patton says it all in the title: The Long Goodbye. We don’t just say goodbye once and forever, it takes a lifetime of repeating the phrase. Everytime we think of them actually! This gentle piece is a nice reminder of that.
30. Pathetique Sonata, 2nd Movement by Beethoven (1799)
This iconic sonata by Beethoven is used likely on a daily basis, whether it’s for weddings or funerals and everything in between. And for good reason: the melody is just so soothing, calming, and gorgeous. When it comes to planning out the perfect song for your loved one’s memorial, don’t overthink it. Just put this one in.