A Pipers Role at the Funeral:
The role of a Piper at a Funeral is simple, yet very profound. The sound of the bagpipe is very distinct. It is also very emotional to many people. This can be seen by the many uses throughout the years. Everything from stirring men to battle to the joy of weddings.
However, in the eyes of many, it is at the funeral that the pipes shine. The mournful sound is unmatched by any other instrument. Today, it is not uncommon for a piper to be actually requested in the will of the deceased.
When the decision is made to engage a piper for a loved one's funeral, it is helpful for all involved to understand his role.
To begin, it is important to use the piper sparingly. Keep in mind that itís not a concert that he is there to perform, but something much more meaningful. If you use the piper too often it will take away from the truly important aspects of the farewell. We suggest the following as a format:
a) The piper should play as the casket is taken from the hearse to the church.
b) The piper should play as the casket is taken from the church back to the hearse.
c) The piper should play at the cemetery as people gather around the graveside.
d) Finally the piper should play after the benediction at the conclusion of the service.
a) The piper plays at the conclusion of the service- after taps, the firing party, the folding and presentation of the flag.
b) The piper plays as the flag is being folded. He must finish before its presentation. (This should be discussed with the military by the piper prior to the funeral procession arriving.)
The final piping piece either after the benediction or after the military is very symbolic. The piper should not play after this piece.
Generally speaking the piper should stand at attention during the entire graveside service. Only moving when he/she starts to play. Its is standard practice to play the first verse of the chosen piece standing still and then to walk away during the second and any subsequent verses.
In our opinion the followings leads to the best performance and use of a piper at a funeral service.
The Piper plays the casket out of the church to the hearse. He then plays again at the cemetery as people gather around the graveside. Finally he plays at the conclusion of the service. Notice I do not include the piper playing the casket into the church. The reason is that in our experience it is much more effective if people donít know the piper is there prior to the church service.
Of course any combination of the above format is perfectly acceptable. We hope this will help you plan your final farewell.