Funeral Music: A Step By Step Guide

Funeral Music A Step by Step Guide

Funeral Music: A Step By Step Guide

This funeral music step by step guide walks you through what to expect at each step while you’re working with me.

Step 1: Contact me for my availability and a quote

Most funerals are understandably booked with short notice, 1-2 weeks. I regularly accept bookings with short notice (even very short notice, 1-2 days), provided I still have availability. Please contact me with your date, time and venue/location and I will respond with my availability and a quote. I return messages very promptly, so if you don’t hear right back, please check your “junk mail” or perhaps try a different communication channel.

Step 2: Invoice & Payment


Info needed for the invoice:

  • your name & contact info (address, phone, email)
  • event date, start time, end time
  • venue(s)/location(s)


For events that are less than 2 weeks away, full payment is required to reserve the date. For events that are more than 2 weeks away, payment can be 50% deposit and 50% balance.

Payment can be by:

  • e-transfer | (note the extra “e” in “Kimberley”)
  • cheque | mail to: 2390 Marchurst Rd., Kanata, ON, K2W 0G9
  • cash | in person (by appointment): 2390 Marchurst Rd., Kanata, ON, K2W 0G9

I will send a “receipt of payment” for your records.

Step 3: Choosing Your Music

Because funerals are booked with short notice, I understand that you need time to work through your music selections with your family, and in some cases, your church. If possible, I like to have your finalized song selections at least 3 days in advance to give me time to learn anything new and organize and practice everything. If that’s not possible though, that’s okay. I will do my best to accommodate your requests if only 1-2 days are given. In some cases I may have to ask you to choose from my existing song list if I don’t have enough time to learn new material.

Music for funerals is obviously going to be very personal, so I encourage you to choose anything that’s special to you and your loved ones. That said, I can help you with your selections. Many people need help deciding, and that’s okay, that’s what I’m here for. For song ideas, you can have a look through my “Full Song List“, “Religious Song List” or the “Most Requested Funeral Music” on my Funerals page.

The following are typical scenarios for both non-religious and religious services. But please feel free to customize the music as you wish.

Funeral Music for Non-Religious Services

  • Prelude
  • Processional
  • Song(s) of Reflection
  • Recessional

Funeral Music for Religious Services, Church Services, Catholic Masses

Depending on your church, there may be some or all of these songs, usually in this order:

  • Prelude
  • Processional
  • Responsorial Psalm or Hymn
  • Gospel Acclamation
  • Offertory Hymn
  • Communion
  • Blessing / Incensing
  • Recessional

I let the priest do the cantor parts such as “holy holy”, “lamb of god” as these can vary greatly depending on the church, so it’s better for the priest to say or sing those the way they are accustomed to. Everything is a little bit different from church to church, so check with your own church as to what music they usually allow and want included.


The prelude is light background music leading up to the service that helps create a warm and comforting environment. I start playing prelude music as soon as I see your first guests arriving, which is usually anywhere from 30-60 minutes before the service. If you will be having a wake/viewing/visitation leading into the funeral service just let me know when you have invited guests to arrive, and I will start playing for that time.

Most clients request instrumental only (piano solo) for the prelude, but I can also sing if you prefer. You are welcome to choose the music for the prelude, or you can defer to my expertise and leave it to me to decide.


The processional is the song that opens the service. Common examples:

  • Amazing Grace
  • Ave Maria
  • Pachelbel’s Canon in D

Song(s) of Reflection

These are any special songs of meaning to you and your loved ones, and give everyone quiet time to reflect. You are welcome to have as many as you’d like. They can be at any time during the service: before, after, or in between eulogies.

Responsorial Psalm or Hymn

The Responsorial Psalm is sung after the 1st reading. Responsorial Psalms have a repeating refrain that the assembly can also sing/respond. Depending on the church or service, this song can instead be a Hymn (without a responsorial component). Common examples:

  • The Lord is my Shepherd, Psalm 23
  • The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, Psalm 27
  • My Soul Is Thirsting for you my God, Psalm 63
  • Le seigneur est mon berger (French), Psaume 22

Gospel Acclamation

This is also commonly known as the “alleluia” and is sung after the 2nd reading. Common examples:

  • Standard Alleluia
  • Celtic Alleluia

Offertory Hymn

The Offertory Hymn, also referred to as “Preparation of the Gifts” is a hymn which is sometimes played during the preparation of the bread and wine for Communion. Common examples:

  • Prayer of St. Francis (Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace)
  • I am the Bread of Life
  • Here I am Lord
  • Nearer my God to Thee


The song played during the Holy Communion. Common examples:

  • Ave Maria
  • Amazing Grace
  • Panis Angelicus
  • One Bread, One Body
  • Be Not Afraid
  • Here I am Lord
  • On Eagle’s Wings
  • Prayer of St. Francis (Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace)

*The Offertory and Communion Hymns would be omitted if your service will not include Holy Communion.

Blessing / Incensing

A song played during the blessing and/or incensing of the casket or urn. Common examples:

  • Jesus Remember Me
  • Songs of the Angels
  • May Flights of Angels Lead You On Your Way


The recessional is the song that closes the service. Common examples:

  • How Great Thou Art
  • On Eagle’s Wings
  • Amazing Grace

Step 4: Day of the Service

I arrive 1-2 hours in advance of my start time to set up and sound check. When your officiant or priest arrives, I will consult with them and go over the music. I start playing prelude music as soon as I see your first guests arriving. At the end of the service, I will continue playing music as the assembly disperses and exits.

Funeral Music: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can we meet with you beforehand or have you play for us?

Absolutely, yes. Whether you would like to meet me or hear me play before hiring me, or would like help deciding on some songs, you are welcome to make an appointment to stop by.

Can a friend or relative sing a song or play your piano?

Yes, absolutely. Your loved ones are very welcome to join me or use my equipment.

Where have you performed?

I have performed at “Beechwood National Cemetery“, “Hulse, Playfair & McGarry“, “Kelly Funeral Homes“, “Tubman Funeral Homes“, “Pinecrest/Cole Funeral Services“, “Whelan Funeral Home“, “Urgel Bourgie” as well as countless churches throughout Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and the surrounding areas.

Do you sing in French?

Yes, I do. Here is my cover of “L’amour existe encore” by Céline Dion:


We do not have a piano at our venue, do you bring your own?

Yes, I travel with everything I require: digital piano and sound system. Most churches have an acoustic piano or electric piano, but if they don’t, I can bring my own.

Do you need to do a site visit of our venue beforehand?

No. If I’m going to a venue I’ve never been to before, I will arrive extra early day-of to ensure that I have more than enough time to navigate and set up. I always travel with everything I need, even when I’m told there is a piano and/or sound available to me at a venue. I will still have my own equipment with me, just in case, as a backup.

Are you able to perform at a Graveside Service or Interment?

Yes. If it is not possible to connect to electrical power for my digital piano, I can still sing, and I also play the flute. Solo flute is quite lovely and can be performed anywhere.

Flute Cover of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Do you ever travel outside of Ottawa for funeral music?

Yes, I frequently perform in Toronto, Montreal and the surrounding areas, and can travel to anywhere you need me.