Wednesday, 4 January 2012

What are popular Catholic funeral hymns?

Funerals are always a difficult time and understanding the intricacies of

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planning eases the confusion. Often Catholic funeral rites are conducted at a Catholic church with a full mass; however, these rites may also be performed at a wake, funeral home or graveside ceremony. Regardless of where Catholic funeral rites are performed, certain aspects of the service are always performed and the Catholic hymns chosen are an important part of the service. Occasionally people forget about choosing the hymns or have difficulty picking them out so a reminder of some of the popular Catholic funeral hymns is very helpful.

There is no set requirement that specific hymns must be used or may not be used, provided they meet with the liturgical spirit of the mass. Typically Catholic funeral hymns focus not only on the loss of an individual, but remind friends and loved ones of the passion, death and resurrection. In death, a spirit is returned to God's presence and those in mourning are reminded of this through various hymns.


The Catholic funeral order of service when performed during a full mass uses on average four or five hymns. These are the entrance or opening hym, a responsorial psalm after the first reading, a hymn sung as the gifts are brought up, a communion hymn and a recessional hymn. When one of these hymns is eliminated, it is often the hymn when gifts are brought up and if many people are present at the mass, multiple hymns may be used during communion. If Catholic funeral rites are performed in a location other than a church, the entire service may be shortened from a full mass and communion will often not be conducted.


You may choose hymns which hold special significance to the deceased but some of the most popular Catholic funeral hymns include Ave Maria by Bach, Amazing Grace, Come Back to Me (Hosea), Be Not Afraid, Here I am Lord, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace and On Eagle's Wings. If the person suffered a long illness, The Strife is O'er the Battle Done is often sung to remind those present that their loved one is no longer suffering. One of the most popular responsorial psalms is The Lord is My Shepard. If an individual is or was former military, TAPS is often played prior to the recessional and The Navy Hymn, often referred to as Eternal Father, is frequently used during the ceremony for deceased sailors and Marines.


There is no right or wrong set of hymns to use at the Catholic funeral of a loved one; the most important thing is that you choose something with meaning to you and your cherished, but now deceased loved one. Although there is always sadness associated with a funeral, Catholics try to remember that death is not the end, but a return to God and hymns help to reinforce this knowledge and belief.