21 Bagpipe Funeral Songs

Maybe it’s the drone or the way they wail, but bagpipes are one of the most inherently mournful instruments there is.

That goes a long way to explaining why they’re so popular at funerals.

But finding the right bagpipe funeral songs for your loved ones is like finding a perfectly in-tune bagpipe. It’s hard to do. But when you get it right, it pays enormous dividends.

Here are some of the best bagpipe funeral songs to help you make your selections. 

“Ashokan Farewell” by Kelly Buckley

Year: 2009

 “Ashokan Farewell” is one of the more modern bagpipe funeral songs on this list. Jay Ungar wrote it in 1982.

Its lyrics are a gentle reflection on love, and it remains the popular closing waltz for many Scottish Country Dancing events.

But its tender, lilting rhythm is also perfect for funerals. It’s gentle and heartfelt. And even without lyrics, there’s a nostalgia inherent in the melody. It’s one of the rare bagpipe funeral songs to feel like a whisper, not a shout, and sometimes that’s what we need.

“Highland Cathedral by The German Navy Band

Year: 2008

“Highland Cathedral” is a popular bagpipe processional. It does duty both at weddings and funerals. It has a solemn, steady melody designed to move you, whatever the occasion.

But it also has moments where the pipes soar above the drone and adds a touch of ethereal grace to the service.

“Flowers of the Forest” by The Dark Isle Bagpiper

 Year: 2018

“Flowers of the Forest” has a long history as a funeral dirge. Purportedly, it’s what the Scots played after the massacre at Glencoe. Later, they played it to mourn the Culloden dead.

It was the commemorative dirge of choice for fallen soldiers during both World Wars and recently, was the Scottish and Irish tribute to the late Queen of England.

As bagpipe funeral songs go, you can’t go wrong with this one. Even without the lyrics, it cuts to the heart of loss, reminding us that even the most expected deaths feel untimely.

“A Scottish Soldier” by Andy Stewart and the Scottish Dragoon Guards 

Year: 2008

Another staple on lists of bagpipe funeral songs is “A Scottish Soldier.” It’s about a young man who yearns for the hills of the Scottish countryside. The melody reflects his homesickness with phrases that sound poignant and nostalgic.

Many people see death as a return home. But even if you don’t, this is a lovely tribute to a loved one whose home may not have been where they died.

“The Skye Boat Song” by The Regimental Band

Year: 2001

Today, most people are familiar with “The Skye Boat Song” as the theme song for the hit television show Outlander. But before that, it was a Jaccobian anthem for nursing hopes that Scotland’s rightful King would return.

That alone makes it an excellent bagpipe funeral song. But then Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a set of lyrics to the melody titled “Sing Me a Song Of A Lad That Is Gone.”

Whatever way you look at it, “The Skye Boat Song” is a song about painful separations, and few people understand as much about what those are like as mourners at a funeral.

“Scotland the Brave” by The Auld Toon Pipes

Year: 2005

Here’s another bagpipe funeral song full of longing for the rolling Scottish moors and glens.

Musically, it’s hard to get more Scottish than “Scotland The Brave,” making it the ideal funeral song for Scottish ex-pats and people who loved Scotland.

Some versions of the lyrics include a verse that dwells on how the people left behind miss those they’ve lost, making it doubly apt for a funeral.

Even without lyrics, there’s a stateliness and grandeur to “Scotland The Brave” that dresses up any funeral and adds a touch of the Highlands.

“Mist Covered Mountains” by The Pipes and Drums of Leanisch

Year: 2007 

 John Cameron composed “Mist Covered Mountains” in 1856. He was a highlander that moved to Glasgow and witnessed first-hand the deterioration of Scottish culture. So, when he wrote “Mist Covered Mountains,” he gave it Gaelic words.

They reflect a longing for a dying way of life. Despite this, it’s a hopeful song. The speaker sees visions of their beloved home and hears the language they love.

Wherever you come from, these are all things we wish for our departed loved ones, endowing this bagpipe funeral song with a bit of hope to carry people through the service.

“I Will Return Home to Kintail” by The Scots Guards

Year: 2020

“I Will Return Home to Kintail” is another Gaelic air popular at funerals.

Sometimes known in Gaelic as “Theid Mi Dhachaidh ‘Chrò Chinn T-Sàile,” it explores one of the most prevalent themes in Scottish music, homesickness and a desire to go home.

Its minor key and mournful melody are appropriately sober for a funeral. And when the pipes begin wailing over the drone, it makes for a deeply moving funeral song. 

“Down by the Sally Gardens” by Celtic Spirit

 Year: 2008

“Down By The Sally Gardens” stands out from other bagpipe funeral songs on this list because it’s an English air, not a Scottish one.

You can tell that from listening to it. It’s long, lyrical, and lacks the distinctive Scottish Snap. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a beautiful funeral song. It’s a melancholy reflection on love.

When we’re young, we don’t always realize our luck, and when we do it can be too late. If you want a melody that reflects on a life well lived or a love with longevity, it’s perfect.

“Danny Boy” by Rob Crabtree

Year: 2013

“Danny Boy” is a well-known Irish melody sung to “The Londonderry Air.” It’s the perfect bagpipe funeral song. It’s sentimental and melancholic, but it’s also prayerful.

And it blossoms into a soaring melody that floats through a grave or churchyard. What’s more, it never forgets it’s a love song at heart. That’s a powerful combination because it can help people remember that while people may die, our love for them persists.

“The Mountains of Mourne” by Stephen McGerty

Year: 2009

“Mountains of Mourne” is another musical treatise on homesickness. In the song, the speaker is baffled by Londoners’ preoccupation with gold. He joins them in looking for riches, but none of it holds a candle to his home.

That’s a feeling familiar to anyone who’s had their world turned upside-down by death. If you’ve lost someone who meant home to you, there’s no better funeral song with bagpipes than this one.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *