Bay Area Bagpiper Jay Salter
Jay Salter, Bagpiper jaysalter @ cruzio . com 831.818.0906

Funerals and Memorial Services

As long as the pipes have been played they have supported the passage from life to beyond. For with the sound of the pipes, heart and mind can be touched in deep ways, and so helped towards a sense of closure.

Over time it has become traditional for many people, whether of Celtic heritage or not, to use the grandeur of the pipes to mark and ease this time of passage, and to honor the loved one. Whether a formal mass in a church, a memorial service in a funeral chapel, a celebration of life at a family residence, or a service at a graveside, in whatever religion or spiritual tradition, it is appropriate to use the presence of the pipes as an integral part of the ceremony.

I have piped for many memorial services over the decades, for many religious denominations, and in many contexts, and can work closely with the family at this difficult time to provide the music and sense of ceremony they want for their loved one. Or, if they prefer, I can handle the details myself, coordinating with the priest, officiant or funeral director, choosing the music most appropriate for each family’s unique situation. If desired, in addition to piping, I can also facilitate memorial gatherings at home or outdoor services in my capacity as a experienced and licensed minister.

There is a wealth of beautiful music I draw on for funerals and memorial services. For instance, some of the earliest and most moving pipe music laments the passing of loved ones, with tunes like: “Lament For Red Hector of the Battles,” “The Sister’s Lament,” and the very beautiful ancient composition: “The Old Woman’s Lullaby.” Over the centuries other Scottish and Irish airs have been added to this deep well of traditional music with pieces like: “The Flowers of the Forest,” “Lochober No More,” “Hearken My Love,” and the air that was played for John F. Kennedy’s funeral, “The Mist-Covered Mountains.” Indeed, tunes from many musical traditions and genres have over time also become part of the pipes’ moving and memorializing repertoire: “Going Home,” “Danny Boy,” and, of course, “Amazing Grace.”

Sometimes I am contacted before the loved one passes, and requested by the family to play at the service. I often suggest that the loved one be allowed to hear the pipes while alive, especially if they had requested the pipes at their own service. This has resulted in many moving gatherings for families around the bedside, in what is known as a “living wake.” On these occasions I can play both the pipes and the small pipes, a quieter, indoor version of the “big pipes.” I also have a wealth of very beautiful airs to play on the low whistle, or celtic straight flute.

There is also the time-honored tradition of the wake, during which music is played while relatives and friends remember and honor the departed. If desired, I can provide other musicians such as fiddlers and guitarists to accompany the pipes.

©2016 Jay Salter