Last Updated on May 21, 2020
21 Happy Funeral Songs for a Celebration of Life is a part of our series featuring The Most Popular Funeral Songs of All Time. Click here for 100 of most popular funeral songs ever recorded, organized into categories and themes.
Today we’re sharing our favorite happy funeral songs. These songs are ideal for a cheerful memorial – not your typical sad and somber funeral service, but rather, with a ‘celebration of life’ in mind for your loved one.
So if you’re foraging for happy funeral songs, you’ve come to the right place. This list encompasses a whole spectrum of happy songs for funerals; we’ve made sure that joy for life can be found in the lyrics, in the melodies, and in the beats themselves.
Our selection spans decades and genres, too, so there’s a little something for everyone (and every loved one).
Let’s take a listen.
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21 Happy Funeral Songs for a Celebration of Life
Our 21 favorite happy songs for funerals, in alphabetical order:
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
- Anyway by Martina McBride
- Blessed by Rachael Lampa
- Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise
- Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
- Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
- Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
- Halo by Beyonce
- I’ll Fly Away by Gaither Vocal Band
- I’m Already There by Lonestar
- I’ve Had the Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
- I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Josh Groban
- On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver
- The 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel
- Turn Your Eyes by Lauren Daigle
- What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
- When You Believe by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey
- You Raise Me Up by Selah
Below you will find descriptions for each of these songs, along with options for downloading and audio/video clips.
1. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (1967)
First on our list of happy funeral songs is an oldie, but definitely a goodie. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by R&B legends Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell was first released in 1967, and has been enjoyed by people everywhere ever since.
In more recent times, it’s come into favor as a popular choice for funerals and life celebrations, due to its cheerful lyrics and upbeat rhythm.
2. Anyway by Martina McBride (2007)
Country singer Martina McBride’s Anyway was released in 2007 as a single from her album Waking Up Laughing. This song is heavy on piano at times and just a tad less upbeat than others mentioned on this list. But the optimistic lyrics provide a moving reminder to keep your head up even in the midst of heartache.
Fun fact: This song is based on the Kent M. Keith poem The Paradoxical Commandments, which was a favorite of Mother Theresa.
3. Blessed by Rachael Lampa (2000)
Looking for a happy tune for your loved one’s funeral that’s also reminiscent of gospel songs of old? Listen to Blessed by Christian artist Rachael Lampa and see if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for.
Released in 2000, this song made waves then and is still played to this day for its joyful, soulful sound and lyrical reminder that no matter what happens, we are blessed beyond measure.
4. Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise (1969)
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise first popularized this catchy tune in 1969, by featuring it on their BBC comedy program. Take a listen and find out for yourself.
(The video above is from their show; you can listen to the recorded song on YouTube here or at the following link.)
Bring Me Sunshine is pure, simple, and happy all at the same time. It’s like a walk down the street on a nice day. Play it at the celebration of life for your loved one to keep tears at bay and happy memories afloat.
5. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey (1981)
Released to critical acclaim in 1981, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ has been rocking radios and funeral homes ever since.
Okay… so that last part was a bit of a stretch. But in all honesty, if your loved one was one for rock music (and perhaps particularly a fan of Journey), this would be the perfect happy funeral song to be played at their celebration of life.
With irresistible guitar slams, keyboard riffs and highly recognizable vocals, this song serves as an anthem representative of everything that is good in life.
6. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin (1988)
Before he was a fish on a wall, Bobby McFerrin was the smooth vocals behind this eternally happy song. Don’t Worry, Be Happy is sure to bring smiles, and probably even a giggle or two, even at a funeral.
Is that something your loved one would have loved at their celebration of life? Then by all means, add this silly song to your playlist.
7. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty (1989)
The reigning theme behind Tom Petty’s 1989 hit Free Fallin’ is freedom. With a song like this, people can take their own meaning from the lyrics as they listen to it.
But what about when this song is played at a funeral or celebration of life? This happy song will remind you and everyone else there that day that your loved one is no longer trapped within the confines of this life, but is now free in spirit.
8. Halo by Beyonce (2008)
When you are engulfed in your grief and feel that you will never get over the loss of your loved one, it can help (when you’re ready) to view the loss from a different perspective. Beyonce’s “Halo” can help you get to that point. If you choose to play this beautiful song at your loved one’s celebration of life, sad tears will likely turn into happy ones, as the song’s moving verses slowly lift the atmosphere.
9. I’ll Fly Away by Gaither Vocal Band (2014)
If you want happy funeral songs that are more traditional, look no further than the Gaither Vocal Band. These world-renowned Gospel musicians released their album Hymns in 2014, with I’ll Fly Away listed as the tenth track.
There’s just no way this song can’t be happy, even when played at a funeral, since it reminds everyone who believes that this old life will one day pass away, and a new, brighter, and happier one will take its place.
10. I’m Already There By Lonestar (2001)
Even though it made this list, I’m Already There still has some somber tones tones to it. So if you want a happy funeral song that isn’t too gleeful, this song is a great option.
This tune by country band Lonestar provides the familiar vocals to this moving track, which if from their 2001 album with the same title. “I’m Already There” is about a person who is away from their family physically, but remains with them in love and spirit.
11. I’ve Had the Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (1987)
This song is truly one for a celebration of life. Happy and grateful at its core, and overflowing with the nostalgia of good times gone by, I’ve Had the Time of My Life will remind you of your loved one and the life they lived in the best, happiest way possible.
This cinematic dance hit hails from the 1987 cult classic Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
12. I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan (1993)
Are you a fan of Sarah McLachlan’s song Angel, but really want to stay away from that kind of melancholy for your loved one’s celebration of life? I Will Remember You may be a better option.
With a melody to match, the gentle tune has a comforting yet richly joyful message. It’s just the right amount of sweet without being too somber.
13. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Josh Groban (2001)
Here is a happy funeral song for classical music lovers. Originally composed in 1723 by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is a bright, peaceful ballad describing Jesus, the light of the world.
Throw in Josh Groban’s crystal clear vocals and you’ve got something akin to a breath of fresh air, perfect for a believer’s celebration of life.
14. On the Road Again by Willie Nelson (1980)
Many times, before they pass away, our loved ones may request that their funeral be a happy one. They want good memories only and maybe even, “No tears, please!”
While that may be a difficult order to carry out, upbeat music definitely makes it easier. And if your loved one in particular was a country music lover (or better yet, a Willie Nelson fan), you’ve got lots of song options to choose from for their service.
Even so, we want to highlight this one. Willie Nelson’s 1980 hit On the Road Again may be easy to pass up as fitting for a funeral. But when you think about it, for a celebration of life, this classic country tune fits perfectly.
If your loved one was a traveler in life or otherwise wouldn’t want their funeral seen as the end of the road, per say, this song may be just what they would have wanted played.
15. Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1990)
Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz gets re-imagined here in Hawaiian crooner Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition. This song has a cheerful beat to it but in the calmest way possible, making it the ideal choice for a funeral, memorial service or celebration of life.
By adding his own twist to the original lyrics (and seamlessly blending in a few lyrics from other comforting tunes), Iz provides a laid-back alternative to the original classic… and it proves to be just as memorable.
16. Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver (1971)
John Denver’s Sunshine on My Shoulders is yet another one of those sweet songs that hits just the right balance between happy and sentimental. It’s perfect to play at a celebration of life.
A gentle, folksy tune, this 1971 track is more relaxing than anything. Denver’s voice soars over soft piano and uplifting message of sweet memories.
17. The 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel (1966)
If you like Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise (song #4 above), you’ll love this track by folk duo Simon and Garfunkel.
I would describe The 59th Street Bridge Song as downright peppy! It’s like a walk down the street on a nice spring day (which is literally what the song is about), so how could you not choose it for a celebration of life? Especially when your loved one enjoyed that same cheerfulness in life.
Give it a listen and you’ll see what we mean.
18. Turn Your Eyes by Lauren Daigle (2018)
Christian artist Lauren Daigle provides a modern take on an old church choir favorite. Turn Your Eyes adds an air of light jazz to the classic hymn, first penned as “The Heavenly Vision” in 1922 by Helen Howarth Lemmel.
This happy funeral song reminds listeners – especially in a time of sorrow – to remember the One they can turn to for true comfort in a time of loss.
19. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (1967)
You know this song! But did you know that it makes a great choice for a celebration of life? Take another listen and I’m sure you’ll agree.
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong was first released in 1967. It describes life in the happiest, most cheerful of ways. This happy funeral song places a focus on all the good things this world has to offer, by reminding listeners that life is what you make of it – and that it goes on.
20. When You Believe by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (1998)
The lyrics encourage listeners who are going through a difficult time (i.e. the loss of a loved one) that hope is to be found if you just have faith.
21. You Raise Me Up by Selah (2004)
The final song to make it to our list of 21 happy funeral songs for a celebration of life is this one, You Raise Me Up by contemporary Christian band Selah.
I love this song for a celebration of life because it contains a simple message of absolute truth: that no matter what trials or sorrows we may face in this life, there is One Who is greater than all our pain… One Who can provide us with a comfort like none other if we only let Him.
If you prefer Josh Groban’s voice, you’ll be happy to know that he also sings a hugely popular version of this song. So does Westlife, Celtic Woman, Susan Boyle and many others. You have plenty of options!
More Funeral Songs
There you have it! Those are our top 21 choices for happy funeral songs. But this doesn’t have to be the end of the list for you – if you’re interested in listening to even more beautiful, joyful tunes, we recommend checking out our 21 Most Uplifting Funeral Songs for further inspiration.
And too, if you like what you saw here, remember that our master list (featuring 100+ songs) is also available for browsing right here.