21 Bagpipe Funeral Songs

“The Road To The Isles” by Rob Crabtree

“The Road To The Isles” by Rob Crabtree

 Year: 2011

“Road To The Isles” was written for soldiers in World War One. It was supposed to keep their spirits up and remind them of the homes they left behind.

That gives it a much jauntier and more optimistic feel than some funeral songs with bagpipes in them. But it’s a lovely selection because it treads the fine line between being maudlin and sentimental expertly.

Like many Scottish songs about home, its inherent nostalgia reminds listeners why they loved this place or in the case of a funeral service, the people they’ve lost. But it offers the comfort of letting listeners picture those people somewhere they loved. 

“Corn Riggs” by The Queen’s Royal Pipers

Year: 1995

No list of funeral songs with bagpipes in them would be complete without a selection or two by Robert Burns.

As with many of Burns' pieces, he added the lyrics and reworked a pre-existing tune to create “Corn Riggs.”

At first blush, it’s an atypical selection for a funeral. The melody is bright and even happy sounding. It’s a brilliant tune to dance to.

But sometimes, when planning a funeral, we need those moments of brightness to help us get through the service. At its heart, “Corn Riggs” is an ode to the woman Burns loved. And funerals are as much about the love we have for the people they lose as they are about grief, making “Corn Riggs” an excellent choice for bagpipes.

“My Lagan Love” by Mick O’Brien

Year: 1999

If you want a love song that is more overtly funereal, “My Lagan Love” is another excellent choice.

It has long, almost legato phrases that give it a mournful air. The drone of the bagpipe exacerbates that, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of loss associated with death.

But it’s also a tender recollection of love, for people and places now out of reach.

It’s a melody with many covers by notable artists, including

  • Kate Bush
  • Sinead O’Connor
  • John McCormack

“She Moved Through The Fair” by Eilean Donan

Year: 2012

“She Moved Through The Fair” opens with a verse about an impending wedding. That may seem odd for a song popular at funerals.

But what makes “She Moved Through The Fair” a perennial favorite bagpipe funeral song is its solemnity.

As the song progresses, it emerges that the young lovers are separated. As they yearn for each other, they dream of each other. Intentionally or not, it captures the unmoored feelings of anyone who has lost a loved one.

In the context of a funeral, the refrain that it won’t be long before they’re reunited becomes a powerful expression of hope and longing for that reunion after death.

“Shenandoah” by Matt Willis

Year: 2021

Another song that works well as a funeral song with bagpipes is “Shenandoah.”

Its beautifully even phrasing combined with a rock-steady rhythm is suitably sober. Not only that, but it’s full of keen yearning for elsewhere, a trait shared by all the best funereal bagpipe melodies.

Its refrain of being destined for somewhere beyond their control is also appropriate for a funeral. It allows people to think of their loved ones dying peacefully but always holding onto those they leave behind.

That can be deeply comforting. Especially since the best way to keep the people we lose alive is by remembering them often.

“Amazing Grace” by The Canadian Pipes and American Brass

Year: 2011

“Amazing Grace” is a perennial favorite at funerals with or without bagpipes. But with them, the melody develops an extra dignity and gravitas.

Its enduring popularity is because of the deeply moving exploration of faith at the heart of the lyrics. It offers a beacon of hope in a time that can feel permeated by darkness, and that’s a powerful sensation.

“The Parting Glass” by Bryce Delaney

Year: 2019

“The Parting Glass” is another contribution from Robert Burns. Burns loved his lasses, but he also wrote a considerable number of odes extolling the virtues of alcohol. “The Parting Glass” might be the most famous.

But reducing “The Parting Glass” to a song about drinking does it a disservice. One of the reasons it’s an excellent funeral song with bagpipes is because it rhapsodizes the importance of good company and keeping your loved ones around you.

In that way, it makes an effective toast to a departed loved one. It’s meditative but also more optimistic than many bagpipe funeral songs. At a time when optimism can seem like a rare commodity, that’s important.  

“Over the Hills and Far Away” by John Tams

Year: 2022

“Over the Hills And Far Away” is another excellent bagpipe funeral song. Its lyrics have altered considerably with time. But one thing that’s always the same is the titular echo that the speaker travels “over the hills and far away.”

The use of lombardie rhythms gives it an especially mournful feeling.

As often happens in these songs, the speaker is separated from someone else by time and space. There’s always the promise that someday they’ll come back over those hills, giving the speaker hope.

It’s a reminder that as much as we miss our departed friends and family, there’s always the glimmer of hope that we’ll see them again in some other life. At a funeral, that’s a moving and meaningful reminder.

“Oft in the Stilly Night” by Nick MacVicar  

Year: 2014

When we lose someone, it’s easy to focus completely on our loss. But one of the most effective ways to keep those people alive long after death is by remembering them. That’s the central idea of “Oft In The Stilly Night,” and the reason it’s such an effective bagpipe funeral song.

This song by Nick is about the speaker’s happy memories of their lost love. They find it devastating that they’re alone now, but at the same time find joy and comfort in dwelling on those happier times.

“Auld Lang Syne” by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Year: 2010

Usually, we associated this tune by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards with New Year’s Eve. But that’s primarily because even most Scots don’t know it beyond the first verse.

There’s a lot to be said for “Auld Lang Syne” as a bagpipe funeral song. Fundamentally it’s a song about the importance of memory and friendship. Few things are more integral to our well-being during a bereavement.

 But the other reason this is an effective funeral song with bagpipes is that it encourages people to share memories of departed friends and family. At a time of loss, many find that comforting.

“Auld Lang Syne” is a heartfelt reminder that it’s all right to accept that comfort.

Best Bagpipe Funeral Songs, Final Thoughts

Bagpipes have a long storied history as funereal instruments. They commemorated the dead at events like The Massacre at Glencoe and Culloden.

Later, during the World Wars, pipers piped a combination of encouragement to the soldiers and dirges for their fallen comrades, sometimes even after being shot themselves.

But trying to draw on that history can quickly feel daunting. Many songs for bagpipes are naturally melancholy and reflective, making it hard to narrow down the right funeral song with bagpipes for the funeral you find yourself planning.

Hopefully, this list of bagpipe funeral songs helps. Some are pensive, some are lyrical, and all aim to do that lost loved one justice.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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