… damp, penetrating and sad like a mist. It enveloped him and pulled at his heart.

James Kennaway,
Tunes of Glory (1958)


  Photos by: Lester Esposo
  and Cheryl Espiritu

A Piper’s Remembrance

Perhaps it is the ancient scale of the instrument that makes the solemn and powerful poetry of the bagpipe the most enduring of all musical accompaniments for funerals and memorials. For hundreds of years, people far and wide have bade farewell or gave memorials to their dearly departed with the music of the pipes.

Recent history has proven that bagpipes continue to be associated with the most touching of all funeral services and memorials, the latest one being that of Ronald Reagan where the world saw on TV piper Eric Rigler leading pallbearers to the march towards the fallen leader’s resting place (see video here). As Princess Diana’s hearse rolled slowly, the resonant strain of the lone piper playing “Amazing Grace” along the route blended and gave fitting expression to the intense emotions of the crowd that lined the streets.

From the victims of 9/11, to funeral and memorial services for members of the police and military forces in many parts of the world—the bagpipes express those emotions when all else fail.

Below are some suggestions on when bagpipes would be best suited for a funeral or memorial service:

• At any point in the service, the piper could play a special hymn. The piper could be in the same room, or off in the distance (or outside) if preferred.

• The pipes can be played as the casket is carried out of the chapel.

• leading the funeral procession from the internment site or from the gate of funeral park to the grave site.

• At the Graveside, Bagpipes can be played as the funeral procession arrives, during the graveside service, or after the service is over and friends and family are leaving.

• If the terrain permits, it is quite effective for the piper to be at a distance and out of sight, when the tune is started. Then move slowly move towards the graveside before the hymn is completed. If the piper is out of sight, then someone will need to give the cue when to begin playing.


Here’s a testimonial from one of Roy’s clients:

Dear Roy,

It’s taken me awhile to find your email address. I finally found it in my mom’s computer.

You play the bagpipes beautifully and you play them with such dignity. Thank you for bringing honour to my father through your playing. It’s one thing for my mom and brother to have had the idea to have a piper, it’s a totally different thing when that idea fleshes out into an impact above and beyond what you expect in the original idea.

The two pieces you played were truly moving, touching, poignant, evocative, honouring and dignified. A big thank you from us.

I also wanted to let you know how many people we’ve seen since the service who expressed how much they loved the bagpipes! So, please know that your contribution was appreciated by so many.

On behalf of Greg, my mom and myself, God’s blessings on you and may many more opportunities open up for you here! (Perhaps you could take a shot at the Edinburgh Tattoo as well.)

Alison Whismore

Holy Trinity Cathedral
Makati City
25 June 2010




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