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Five Songs for a Celebration of Life February 12, 2021

Sheet music resting on top of a piano

Celebrations of Life have become increasingly popular for final services, as families move away from dark and somber traditional funeral services. Families have found solace and, to some degree, joy in relating fond memories and celebrating the contributions of individuals.

Celebrations of Life have also created a need for new soundtracks for final services, replacing traditional hymns with more contemporary songs. These songs may have an overall appeal or reflect the favorites of a deceased.

Here are some of the favored songs used for Celebrations of Life and a bit about their meaning.

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Part of the lyrics for this classic song include:

“I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

For many, these are a perfect blend of contemporary music and religious flavor that make it perfect for final services. It conveys a sense of gratefulness, understanding and caring that can be challenging to find. Armstrong released the song in September of 1967 but feels like it has a much longer legacy.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

This version of the song from the “Wizard of Oz” soundtrack has touched millions across the globe. It has a light, hopeful Hawaiian ukulele background that just seems to fit the lyrics so very well. The song, often featured in a medley with “What a Wonderful World” was featured in multiple TV shows and movies including the 2004 “Fifty First Dates” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

This 1967 hit was written by pop/soul song writers Ashford and Simpson and not only was a hit from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell but subsequently became a hit for Diana Ross in 1970. The original 1967 version peaked at 19 on the Billboard charts while Ross’ version hit number one. It reflects determination and the power of love to break through obstacles. The Gaye/Terrell version is a bit more upbeat than the soulful rendition sung by Diana Ross.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

This bouncy 1988 song is unique in that it reached number one on the charts as an a’capella song; sung without instruments. McFerrin explained he credits the four word title to an Indian philosopher by the name of Meher Baba and found it a simple yet profound philosophy of life. The song serves as a reminder that everything in life is temporary, as should be our sadness.

I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlin

Lyrics to this haunting song begin with “I will remember you, will you remember me? Don’t let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories. Remember the good times that we had?” This is a clear message for those attending a Celebration of Life that memories are not something to cry about, but to celebrate.

Of course, these are just a few of the multiple songs available for a final service. Others could include:

  • I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
  • Angels – Robbie Williams
  • In My Life – The Beatles
  • My Way – Frank Sinatra
  • The Best – Tina Turner

Any choice made should reflect the personality and life of the deceased. This can be a daunting decision considering the large amount of music to choose from.

If you need assistance in pre-planning a funeral or Celebration of Life, we welcome you to contact us. We have been proud to serve families in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati for generations.

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