Legendary evangelist Billy Graham passed away in March of this year, and as his casket was led from the tent where more than 2,000 mourners had gathered, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace.
It was a touching moment that would have felt familiar to many people because bagpipes are often played at funerals. In particular, military, police and firefighter funerals typically feature the mournful sound of the pipes.
Bagpipes have long been played at important ceremonies, including funerals, in Ireland and Scotland. During the potato famine, when the Irish immigrated to the United States in large numbers, they brought this tradition with them. The Irish, however, don’t favor the bagpipes that we see at funerals here in America. Rather, the traditional Irish instrument known as the Uilleann pipes became fashionable in the 18th century, replacing the harp as the instrument of choice for most Irish music. Played from a sitting position, these pipes produce tones much sweeter than Scottish bagpipes.
Why, then, are Scottish pipes played at funerals? The answer is simple: Scottish bagpipes are louder and easier to hear outdoors.
As Irish immigrants assimilated into American society, many became firefighters and law enforcement officers. It’s only natural, then, that bagpipes were soon played at their funerals.
Today, you don’t have to be a dignitary, firefighter, police officer or member of the armed forces to have bagpipes played at your funeral and the song doesn’t have to be Amazing Grace. they Bagpipes can be played before, during or after any funeral or memorial service, providing a mournful and poignant sound that seems to fit the occasion.
At Mountain View, we believe in creating memorable, life-honoring services customized for each unique person. That’s why we offer Signature Services℠, including bagpipes, to help enhance your family’s time of reflection and remembrance. Call 253.948.9895 for more information.