For a memorial service, you may not necessarily want dark, slow music, but you do want music that is appropriate for the setting and occasion, and ultimately, you want the music to honor your loved one who has passed. I feel that focusing on their favorite music is the most important thing - a beloved song or two, mixed in with other selections appropriate for the setting, works beautifully.

I've been a part of memorial services and events in several ways - performing 2-3 specially chosen songs during the service, playing background music during the hour before the service while everyone gathers, and at post-service luncheons. The music you choose depends partly on where it will be played. Here are some ideas I've come up with based on past experiences:


Other Suggestions:

If you're looking for a way to honor your loved one with music but Celtic tunes don't quite fit the bill, you still have a lot to choose from in the classical and contemporary song genres. I also play a handful of spiritual songs that could work in church settings, as well.

Classical

  • Air on the G String
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Prelude in C Major (Ave Maria)

Other instrumentals

  •  Hymne - Vangelis
  • Married Life from Up

Spiritual Songs

  • Amazing Grace
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Keep On the Sunny Side

Contemporary Song Suggestions

Several of these have been requested at actual services, but many are just ideas. These tend to be a bit more mid-tempo or slow, and most aren't obvious love songs, but most aren't "sad" songs, either.

  • Blackbird - The Beatles
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
  • Carolina On My Mind - James Taylor
  • Fields of Gold - Sting
  • Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
  • I Shall Be Released - Bob Dylan
  • Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
  • Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens
  • Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland
  • Ripple - Grateful Dead
  • Stand By Me - Ben E. King
  • Way Over Yonder - Carole King
  • What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • Wildflowers - Tom Petty
  • The Wind - Cat Stevens
  • You Are My Sunshine - Carter Family

 

Irish/Celtic Music Suggestions:

I've always found that Irish music strikes a really great balance of being both uplifting and appropriate, so for those who want to honor their loved one with Irish or Celtic music, there are so many great options. From slow airs to happy jigs played at a more stately pace, to classic pub songs played with a little more delicacy, you have a lot to choose from. If you'd like to include a fiddler or other instrumentalist as well, just let me know.

Instrumental pieces

  • The Ash Grove
  • Bunyan's Hymn
  • Eagle's Whistle
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • The Island of Woods
  • Lochail's March
  • Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (Sheebeg and Sheemore)
  • The South Wind
  • Tramps & Hawkers
  • Twisting of the Rope

Songs with lyrics

  • Ae Fond Kiss
  • Amazing Grace
  • As I Roved Out
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Danny Boy
  • Farewell, Farewell
  • Galway Bay
  • Galway Shawl
  • On Raglan Road
  • Too Ra Loo Ra
  • The Water Is Wide
  • When Irish Eyes Are Smiling