Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-07 > 0964647759
From: "Charles.Clark" <>
Subject: Re: funerals
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 17:42:39 -0400
Quint Hart wrote:
> Recently my friend's grandson died. He requested a Scottish Funeral. My
> friend said it is tradition that a piper must play at the grave side and
> the last song must be Amazing Grace. If this isn't done the spirit will
> remain with the body, and not ascend to Heaven. I've never heard of
> this. Can anyone help me prove or disprove this story?
I had a bit more of a look around at this, and yes, the story is a load of
old cobblers (is that more or less poite than codswallop?)
To start with, the Amazing Grace hymn was written by John Newton in about
1779, and apparently first appeared, though not under that name, in the
"Olney Hymns" about that time.
Newton was not Scottish but was born in England, and became captain of a
slave ship taking slaves from Africa to America.
The origin of the melody is unknown. Most hymnals attribute it to an early
American folk melody. The Bill Moyers special on "Amazing Grace" speculated
that it may have originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.
So how do we get from there to having it as a traditional Scottish tune at
the heart of one of the Scottish funeral "traditions" (I think I'd better use
those quatation marks, because it seems more evident as we go on that this
"tradittion" is of comparatively recent origin) Certainly there is NO
REFERENCE TO SCOTLAND WHATSOEVER on this webpage!
Perhaps the answer is that as noted below, it was " propelled into the pop
charts when a pipe band recorded the tune
Traditional Scottish Songs
- Amazing Grace
The words to "Amazing Grace" were written in the 18th
century by John Newton. He was born in London and
after a life which included being press-ganged into the
navy, flogged and becoming a skipper of a boat plying
slave trade, was converted to religion and became a
minister. He wrote many hymns and this one was
propelled into the pop charts when a pipe band recorded
As to which pipe band, perhaps it was the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in
"HISTORY OF HYMNS:
'Amazing Grace' has been set to
more than 24 tunes"
"In 1970 the hymn was included in Judy Collins' album
Whales and Nightingales and in the CD of the Royal Scots
Dragoon Guards, recorded with bagpipes and drums at
Redford Barracks, Edinburgh, Scotland. Here was great
In which case, of course, the whole tradition must be under 30 years old, as
it must have taken a while for the tune set to pipes etc to become a
According to http://www.q-net.net.au/~methinks/top_spot/1972.htm , it was No
1 Hit single in the UK during April and may 1972, not long after Benny Hill's
ERNIE (THE FASTEST MILKMAN IN THE WEST) Which rather downgrades it as a
tradition from the sacred tune to just another pop tune!!!