Memorial Services & Funerals

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. Most importantly, 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 events.


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.


  • Bunyan's Hymn - Traditional

  • Eagle's Whistle - Traditional
  • I Saw Three Ships - Traditional
  • The Island of Woods - Liz Carroll
  • Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (Sheebeg and Sheemore) - O'Carolan
  • The South Wind - Traditional
  • Tramps & Hawkers - Traditional
  • Twisting of the Rope (Casadh An tSúgáin) - Traditional

Songs with Vocals:

  • Ae Fond Kiss - Robert Burns
  • As I Roved Out - Traditional
  • Be Thou My Vision - Traditional
  • Danny Boy - Frederic Weatherly/Trad.
  • Dublin in the Rare Old Times - Pete St. John
  • Farewell, Farewell - Richard Thompson/Trad.
  • Galway Bay - Arthur Colahan
  • Galway Shawl - Traditional
  • (My Own Dear) Galway Bay - Francis Fahy
  • A Mother's Love's A Blessing - Thomas P. Keenan
  • On Raglan Road - Patrick Kavanagh/Trad.
  • The Parting Glass - Traditional
  • Too Ra Loo Ra (That's An Irish Lullaby) - J.R. Shannon
  • The Town I Loved So Well - Phil Coulter
  • The Water Is Wide - Traditional, as done by James Taylor
  • When Irish Eyes Are Smiling - Olcott/Ball


Classical and Spiritual Song Suggestions:

If you're looking for a way to honor your loved one but Celtic music doesn't quite fit the bill, you still have a lot to choose from. Classical pieces are a great fit, and I play a handful of spiritual songs that could work in church settings.


  • Air on the G String - Bach

  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Bach
  • Prelude in C Major (Ave Maria) - Bach/Gounod

Other Instrumentals:

  • Hymne - Vangelis

  • Married Life from Up - Giacchino

Spiritual Songs:

  • Amazing Grace - Traditional
  • Be Thou My Vision - Traditional
  • I'll Fly Away - Traditional
  • Keep On the Sunny Side - Blenkhorn/Entwhistle
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Habershon/Gabriel


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. 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