Memorial Service Music

Searching for music for a memorial service?   Here's a selection of wonderful music. 

When I was creating a memorial service for my father I did a google search on "Memorial Service Music" thinking I might find a site with suggestions for music  appropriate for such an occasion.  I didn't find any, so decided to create this page to assist others who might be in similar circumstances.

Of course the best music may be something that was a personal favorite of the person you are memorializing.  But for setting the mood before the ceremony or for background during prayers or reflection, the selections on this list might be just what you need.

Click Note  to listen to mp3 Sound Samples.    Click CD to view album details.

Contemplative / Tranquil
The songs in this section are quiet, pretty instrumental works conducive to reflection or relaxation.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
Real AudioQuietude Kater and Nakai
Migration CD
Sparse piano over quiet synthesizer.  Meditative.
MP3 September Fifteenth (dedicated to Bill Evans) Pat Metheny
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls

Delicate solo guitar with synthesizer background.
Windows MediaPacific II Will Ackerman
Past Light
Melodic, pretty guitar
MP3Starlight in a reflecting pool Randall Leonard
Melting Snow/Thirsty Flowers
Solo piano, pretty, melodic.

These songs feature slightly more involved arrangements or orchestrations but maintain a calm ambience.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3By The River
Edgar Meyer
Uncommon Ritual
Folk music.
MP3Bread and Wine
Peter Gabriel
Peaceful, synthesizer and flutes.
MP3Southern Jukebox Music
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
When in Rome
Piano and cello, melodic.
MP3Minor Blue
David Darling
Eight-String Religion Cello
MP3Of One Heart, Of One Mind
James Horner
Soundtrack "A Beautiful Mind"
Clarinet, flute, harp, strings; romantic theme

These are popular excerpts from well-known concertos.

Song Artist/Composer Album
RealAudio"Largo" Concerto in C major, RV 560. for two oboes, two clarinets and strings.  Vivaldi
Wind Concertos
MP3Adagio for Strings
Samuel Barber
Classical Music 101
RealAudio"Adagio" Oboe Concerto in D minor Op. 9 no. 2.  Albinoni
Wind Concertos
MP3Largo from "Winter"
The Four Seasons

These songs are a bit more moody or evocative than others on this page.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3Mareta no'm faces plorar Hespèrion Xxi /  Anon.Alicante 
Ninna Nanna Female Vocals, pretty duet lullaby
MP3Wandering Saint
L. Subramaniam
Soundtrack from "Baraka"
Spacey, ambient music with slightly moody tones.
MP3Wolf Eyes
Paul Winter
Common Ground Simple piano chords accompany a saxophone played in the style of a mournful wolf howl.
Dead Can Dance
Evocative, moody female vocal

My favorites, this magnificent music will transport you to another dimension.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3O vos omnes
Tomas Luis de Victoria
 The Sixteen 'The Flowering of Genius '
Beautiful, renaissance choral piece.
MP3With this love - choir
Peter Gabriel
Passion Moving, lovely choral piece.
Kater and Nakai
Migration Wonderful, celebrating the end of the journey.
Agnus Dei (compilation)
Angelic, inspiring

These are traditional American spirituals, hymns, and blues.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3Amazing Grace Robert Shaw Festival Singers
American Hymns & Spirituals
Always popular.
MP3Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Robert Shaw Festival Singers
American Hymns & Spirituals
Sung by a large choir.
MP3Shall we gather at the river? Anonymous 4
American Angels
A simple, lovely rendition by four beautiful singers.
MP3Death Don't Have No Mercy John Martyn
The Church With One Bell
soulful blues

Popular (Vocals)
If you are looking for songs with lyrics, these are contemporary popular songs with themes of mortality, loss, or hope.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3Over the Rainbow
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Ka `Ano` i
Upbeat, delightful cover of a classic
MP3Tears in heaven
Eric Clapton
Sad but hopeful
Carole King
MP3Knocking on Heaven's door
Bob Dylan
Essential Bob Dylan
MP3For a Dancer  Jackson Browne
Late for the Sky
Dreamy, new age.
MP3Take it with me
Jubilant Sykes Wait for Me
A tearjerker, touching lyrics and silky baritone vocal.

You may not initially consider Jazz as a style relevant to memorial services as they have a strong character, but they can capture the essence of some individuals in a way not possible with other music.

Song Artist/Composer Album Comments
MP3Flamenco Sketches
Miles Davis
Kind of Blue
Rich, moody.
MP3Loving You Trotter Trio
Soundtrack "Passion in Jazz" Solo piano

In some cases I created abbreviated versions or took excerpts from the original recordings to play during the service.  For example, "When in Rome" is a live album so I digitally omitted the audience applause.  I recommend the wonderful free tool, Audacity, that is a snap to use for editing music files.

Comments? Suggestions? Feedback? Please e-mail: email address

This page is created in memory of my father, Howard C. Dalbey, 1921 - 2006.