This website provides information about hiring a harpist for funeral and memorial services in the Chicago metropolitan area. My name is Renee Wilson, and I built this website to help potential clients decide if hiring a harp player would be right for the funeral they are planning. Please don't hesitate to contact me with specific questions. I can be reached via email or phone between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm every day.
Funerals and memorials are, of course, particularly difficult to plan. I have most of the traditional repertoire ready to go with a minimum of notice, and I try to accommodate all special requests. Probably the best way to decide if harp music would fit with your plans is to click on the videos below and listen to me play. I hope that the music brings you peace.
Shall We Gather By the River
Favorite hymns are always a good place to start. They can be solo versions, like this arrangement, or basic hymn accompaniments meant for group singing.
Air on the G String (J.S. Bach)
Classical music can be a wonderful addition to both religious services and visitations.
Many people find that including contemporary songs in their plans feels right. Truly any song that brings warm memories of your loved one is worth considering.
Click on the categories below to access lists of commonly used pieces for funerals and memorials. These are by no means the only choices that will be available to you, but they should get you thinking about what might suit the service that you are planning.
Hymns and Religious Music for FuneralsOpen or CloseAbide With Me
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Ave Maria (Schubert)
Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod)
Be Not Afraid
Be Thou My Vision
Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Here I Am, Lord
His Eye is On the Sparrow
Holy, Holy, Holy
How Great Thou Art
In the Garden
It is Well With My Soul
Lift Every Voice and Sing
The Lord's Prayer
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Morning Has Broken
Nearer My God to Thee
The Old Rugged Cross
On Eagle's Wings (Michael Joncas)
Shall We Gather at the River
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Water is Wide
What Wondrous Love is This
Classical Music for FuneralsOpen or CloseAdagio from the Clarinet Concerto in D (Mozart)
Air from Water Music (Handel)
Air on the G String (Bach)
Ave Verum (Mozart)
Bist Du Bei Mir (Bach)
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Caro Mio Ben (Giordano)
Clair de Lune (Debussy)
Dance of the Blessed Spirits (Gluck)
First Gymnopedie (Satie)
Flower Duet (Delibes)
For I Love You So (Lehar)
I Know That My Redeemer Liveth (Handel)
Meditation from Thais (Massenet)
On Wings of Song (Mendelssohn)
Pie Jesu (Faure)
Prelude No. 1 (Bach)
Prelude Op. 28 No. 6 (Chopin)
Raindrop Prelude (Chopin)
Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach)
Song to the Moon (Dvorak)
The Swan (Saint-Saens)
To a Wild Rose (McDowell)
Villa Song (Lehar)
Contemporary Music for FuneralsOpen or CloseI hesitate to even suggest specific contemporary music, because nearly all of these will likely sound like a terrible idea to you. But maybe just one will get you thinking of the perfect song for your loved one, so here are some songs that I've used in the past.
All I Ask of You
Angel (Sarah McLachlan)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees)
I Will Follow You Into the Dark
In My Life (Beatles)
The Inner Light
My Heart Will Go On
Only Time (Enya)
Over the Rainbow
Rainy Days and Mondays (Carpenters)
Take it to the Limit (Eagles)
Time to Say Goodbye
Turn, Turn, Turn
The Wind Beneath My Wings
You'll Never Walk Alone
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do you charge?Open or CloseMy base fee is $350, and covers either a religious service or two hours of background playing. Additional hours of playing can be added for $100 each. Sometimes people plan a day that includes both a service and a visitation, so in those cases it is best to let me know your specifics so that I can give you a firm quote.
Can you play for any denomination?Open or CloseYes, absolutely. I am happy to talk with whomever is in charge of the service so that I can be sure I am following what is acceptable for the specific situation. Whether that includes special music, requirements of dress, or a certain load-in to the religious space, I am happy to accommodate.
How do we arrange to have you come and play?Open or ClosePlease reach out via phone or email. We will talk through your plans and decide if it makes sense to send a contract or proceed with a verbal agreement. Sometimes a contract can be helpful because it clearly outlines exactly what to expect and can give you some peace of mind. If you are, however, doing a traditional funeral on a 3 or 4 day timetable, a verbal agreement can be a relief. Both are available to my clients.
Can you play special request music?Open or CloseYes, I absolutely want to play all of your special requests. Most of the time, they turn out to be pieces that I already have in my repertoire, or pieces that I can learn in just a few days. If it is not music that I already own, it must be available for me to purchase (in a piano version) at one of the online music vendors. Occasionally, there will be a piece that I can't get learned in time, so it is best if we can talk over your must-have special requests prior to booking.
Can you work with additional musicians?Open or CloseYes, it is always a great pleasure to work with other musicians, whether they are musicians from your place of worship, or other freelance players that you have hired. I can help you with referrals if you would like, and I will provide music to all the players, if needed. Harp can play along with piano or organ, but is also enough to accompany a solo singer by itself. Adding a solo instrument (say violin or flute) is a lovely way to create a small ensemble.
How much notice do you need?Open or CloseThree days is optimal. Two days is fine. I have done quite a few with only 24 hours notice, and the least amount of notice I ever had was 12 hours.
Do you ever play funeral luncheons?Open or CloseYes, frequently. Luncheons are priced like background music ($350 for 2 hours), and can be scheduled by themselves, or in conjunction with a funeral or memorial.
Do you ever play at the cemetery?Open or CloseYes, I frequently play in the chapel at the cemetery, and sometimes even at graveside. Since the types of plans people make in those locations can vary widely, it is best to just call me directly for a quote.
What options do you have for payment?Open or CloseI accept personal checks, Zelle, and cash. Frequently the funeral home you are using will take care of issuing the check, and that is just fine.