Nowhere is the sound of the bagpipes more fitting, more evocative than at a funeral. For centuries the pipes have been an essential feature of Scottish and Irish funerals. An Italian observer said of the Irish pipes in 1581, "To its sound this unconquered, fierce, and warlike people march their armies and encourage one another to feats of valor. With it also, they accompany their dead to the grave, making such mournful sounds as almost to force the bystander to weep."
Using Scottish pipes at a funeral or memorial service: There is nothing as emotional at a service than a lone piper, perhaps on a nearby hillock, playing Amazing Grace. At the pipeís first sound begin the tears, and also the healing catharsis, as the hymn reaffirms Christís victory over the grave. The Scottish pipes are perhaps best used at graveside services, though my pipes are mellow enough to be pleasantly used at an indoor service. Using Irish Uilleann pipes at a funeral or memorial service: These pipes have voice like keening that uniquely expresses the Irish soul. Also, they are more musically flexible and therefore needed to play many tunes requested by families that do not fit the limited range of the Scottish pipes.
The most requested, and perhaps most effective, tune is Danny Boy (see repertoire list). The Irish pipes are quiet and played seated so are perhaps best used for indoor services, though I have often played them at graveside services, seated nearby. Military Services: I have a military-style uniform which I wear, when appropriate, at military, police, and firefighter services when playing the Scottish pipes. If no bugler is available "Taps" sounds beautiful on the pipes.
Click below to hear excerpts of some MEMORIAL SONGS:
Sampling from extensive Song List:
Hymns: I have numerous hymnals from many faiths (Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, LDS, Seventh-day Adventist, Lutheran) and have arranged a great many hymns for the pipes including:
Morning has Broken
Scottish Folk and Popular Songs:
Auld Lang Syne
The Flower of Scotland
Over the Sea to Skye, Bonny Portmore
Scottish Gaelic Songs:
Briagh Loch Iall
The Highland Cradle Song
Irish Folk Songs:
Irish Sean Nos Airs: