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Uplifting funeral songs are an increasingly popular choice at funerals with a focus on reflecting the life that someone lived.
Whether a personal favourite of the person who died, or a reflection of their outlook, spiritual faith or wishes, upbeat funeral songs feature among the most played and sung tunes at funerals and celebrations of life.
Here are 11 of the most uplifting funeral songs and happy hymns for funerals – for people who always looked on the bright side of life, or brought joy to your own.
1. My Way – Frank Sinatra
I faced it all and I stood tall
Written by Paul Anka, Ol’ Blue Eyes’ signature song frequently tops annual lists of most popular funeral songs. It was the recessional song played at Senator John McCain’s memorial in Arizona. For Sinatra’s own funeral though, his family chose the beautiful ballad Put Your Dreams Away – another uplifting song for a funeral by the singer.
2. Green Day - Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right. I hope you had the time of your life
This breakup song by Green Day is a popular modern funeral song choice – and while the title may raise a few eyebrows in the order of service, the lyrics are poignant and bittersweet, sung with an energy that makes this an uplifting funeral song.
3. I’ll Never Find Another You – the Seekers
I could search the whole world over until my life is through. But I know I'll never find another you
Short but sweet and a massive hit in 1965 for the group that put Australian pop onto an international stage, singer Judith Durham’s beautiful voice and an uptempo melody combine with sweet lyrics about loving someone irreplaceable. Another famous Seekers hit, the Carnival is Over, brings a lump to the throat – but is an ultimately uplifting funeral song, while their I Am Australian has come to be fondly considered as an alternative national anthem and stirring choice of upbeat funeral song.
4. Always Look on the Bright Side – Monty Python
For life is quite absurd and death's the final word. You must always face the curtain with a bow
The closing tune to Monty Python’s irreverent Life of Brian has become a favourite happy funeral song – often topping annual polls of all music played at funerals. At Python star Graham Chapman’s memorial in 1989, Eric Idle concluded the service with a rousing singalong rendition of the song, and it was also the recessional music played at Aboriginal leader and activist Kwementyaye “Tracker” Tilmouth’s Darwin state funeral in 2015.
5. Amazing Grace – Gurrumul and Paul Kelly
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see
Written by clergyman John Newton in the 1700s, Amazing Grace is an uplifting funeral hymn that’s been interpreted by hundreds of singers and musicians over the past century.
Amazing Grace was among the hymns played at ACDC guitarist and songwriter Malcolm Young’s funeral. Susan Boyle’s version has become a favourite with Australians, while this version, sung in Yolngu and English by Gurrumul and Paul Kelly, featured on Doctor G’s final album. It touches the heart and soul.
6. The Show Must Go On – Queen
Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die. I can fly my friends
Queen’s You’re My Best Friend and Another One Bites The Dust are among the most popular rock songs for a funeral – with the band’s catalogue of hits providing a trove of choices for remembering someone you loved by. Singer Freddie Mercury was dying when he recorded soaring swan song The Show Must Go On and it regularly tops lists of uplifting funeral song choices.
7. You Raise Me Up – Westlife
You raise me up to more than I can be
Written by Norwegian duo Secret Garden, You Raise Me Up is an upbeat funeral song with lyrics that are open to personal interpretation; whether you’re thinking about someone who gave you strength in life, or contemplating your faith. Co-writer Rolf Løvland first played the piece– originally and instrumental number – at his mother’s funeral.
Since then, it’s been sung by over 100 recording artists – including US star Josh Groban, who sung it at a commemoration performance in memory of the crew who lost their lives in the Columbia space shuttle disaster. Westlife had a UK Number One with it in 2005 and it’s also been covered by Susan Boyle, opera star Russell Watson, violinist Andre Rieu, as well as performed as a happy funeral hymn by many Christian worship artists and choirs. The Voice Australia winner Harrison Craig’s version was a top 40 hits for the singer in 2013.
8. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
*It's been a long day without you, my friend And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
With lyrics about friendship and bonds that remain unbroken, this modern funeral song was written as a tribute to film star Paul Walker and featured on the soundtrack of his last movie, Furious 7.
Written in posthumous memory, it’s become a popular choice of upbeat funeral song, reflecting on memories that will never fade and that person’s place forever in your heart.
9. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry & The Pacemakers
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
Football anthems and favourite TV and movie theme tunes feature among the surprising and happy funeral song choices picked by families celebrating their loved one’s life.
Since Merseybeat band Gerry & The Pacemakers had a hit with it in 1963, fans of Liverpool FC have most closely associated with the song as a stirring sporting anthem. The tune, written by Rodgers & Hammerstein for the 1945 musical Carousel has been covered by countless artists, from Judy Garland and Tom Jones, to the Three Tenors and Louis Armstrong.
It’s a funeral song that brings a lump to the throat and tears to eyes, but ultimately lifts the heart.
10. Highway to Hell – ACDC
Hey mama, look at me. I'm on my way to the promised land
Not simply one of the most legendary rock anthems of all time, Highway to Hell also ranks high among the most-requested (funeral rock songs)[https://www.funeralguide.net/blog/rock-songs-for-funerals] of irreverent, fearless and fun-loving Aussies, alongside Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.
11. Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Someday, I wish upon a star, wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Hawaiian singer and musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s soulful interpretation of Over the Rainbow combines two enduringly popular uplifting funeral songs – the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz classic and Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World.
With upbeat chords picked out on a ukulele, Israel’s smoky-soft voice tempers the tune like a lullaby. It was played as mourner bid farewell to the 38-year old singer at his own funeral in 1997.
- Read more: Love Has Wings – the meaning of Australian funeral flowers