When a loved one passes away, it’s important to choose meaningful music for the ceremony. The music that you choose must be sacred music, and ultimately, the parish is responsible for the liturgy, but there is some leeway in which songs you decide to include. This allows you to find music that was important to the person who has died and honor the life that was lived through that music. During Advent and Christmas, there are many beautiful hymns that are appropriate for a funeral Mass. Especially if the person loved the holiday season, some of these hymns can be particularly impactful.
Different hymns are used for different parts of the funeral Mass.
- First, there’s the opening or processional hymn. This is also known as the gathering song and is played as people enter the church.
- The Responsorial Psalm is pulled directly from scripture. Two common responsorial Psalms during Advent include Psalm 24- To You, O Lord, and Psalm 84- Let us see, O Lord, your mercy.
- The offertory hymn comes as gifts are gathered. This song is optional, and you can also choose a hymn of thanksgiving to be offered after communion.
- The communion hymn offers time for reflection. This piece of music is often instrumental.
- Finally, there’s the recessional hymn. This is a meaningful communal moment of gathering around the loved one who has passed away, before leaving the church.
There are many beautiful hymns specifically suited to Advent and Christmas. When you’re planning a funeral, the clergy member helping you make your decisions can also offer guidance as to which Advent songs are best for the different elements of the funeral Mass. Hymns for Advent include:
- Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
- Holy is His Name
- Ave Maria
- Come, Divine Messiah
- On Jordan’s Bank
- The Coming of Our God
- The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
- Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Some hymns appropriate for Christmas include:
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
- Good Christian Friends, Rejoice
- As with Gladness Men of Old
In the Order of Christian Funerals, it’s stated that “ Music is integral to the Funeral Rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that word alone may fail to convey. It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture.” (OCF 30) Bearing that in mind, you can move forward to choose songs that signify the season and are meaningful to the family of the person who has died.
The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is committed to providing a sacred place, where you and your family can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. For more information, contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.