September 28, 2023


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Protocol for Piping a Formal Supper: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers

Protocol for Piping a Formal Supper: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers

It is thought that the custom of eating in began in the monasteries, was adopted by the early universities, and afterwards unfold to military services units when the officer’s mess was set up. British officers of the 19th century have been drawn from the aristocracy, and whilst they deemed by themselves gentlemen, they were not always men of implies third and fourth sons experienced tiny probability of inheriting title and lands less than primogeniture. Though the pooling of sources may perhaps have been out of economic necessity, the regimental officer’s mess taken care of the social stratification of English culture and ensured that the traditions of gentlemanly conduct had been preserved and inculcated to junior officers. The primary things are a rigidly formal environment, espirit de corps and the camaraderie of peers, a high-quality supper, standard toasts to the head of condition and armed forces companies, martial music and the attendance of honored friends or speakers. Today, whilst the goal of a meal might be to notice an appointment, marketing, retirement, or some auspicious event, a central topic of this sort of functions is a ceremonial target upon the record of the host firm.

Although the tradition of possessing a piper at high table might have it is origins in the clan process in Scotland & Ireland, the official dinners and dining in ceremonies as we know them nowadays are right attributable to the traditions of the officers mess in the British Army and Royal Navy. Initially fife & drums or trumpeters were employed to seem the calls as Highland regiments have been organized, pipers had been employed not only for this objective, but to celebrate wonderful battles and victories in the history of the regiment and to memorialize their lifeless, fairly in maintaining with the Celtic bardic tradition. It should be borne in brain that at first Army pipers have been outfitted and compensated not by the Exchequer but completely by the officer’s mess without their patronage, contemporary Highland regiments wouldn’t have ever had pipers, and without the need of the Army to preserve and create upon this tradition the fantastic Highland bagpipe would be about as familiar to most individuals currently as the zampogna.

When a piper is requested to pipe the calls and the tunes at a official supper, you may well be engaged to perform throughout dinner to supply a confined general performance this kind of as pipe in the head desk, pipe the lament and/or pipe in the port or to only pipe in the head desk and depart. Whilst there are numerous different traditions linked with formal dining, the adhering to are some of the customs connected with piping a official dinner. You may well be requested to perform some, all, or some variant of any of them on occasion.


These kinds of affairs are invariably official, necessitating black tie, from time to time white tie, or entire parade regalia. Miniature decorations and medals are worn. If traveling a pipe banner, be certain that the drone cords and/or ribbons are to the remaining of the banner i.e., not more than the regimental crest. If there is a lot more than a person piper, the banner is traditionally flown by the rating piper current, who will direct the detachment, formed up in buy of rank or seniority.


The seating arrangement at the head desk is normally primarily based on rank, seniority and position. The host sits in the middle, the following senior human being (or guest of honor) to his/her right, the subsequent senior individual to his/her remaining and so on, till all are seated. The senior-rating member of the mess is the head (or “President”) of the mess dinner and sits in the centre. The President of the Mess may well appoint a next (“Mr. Vice”), commonly the junior officer of the mess, who will be in cost of arranging, and who ordinarily occupies the seat farthest from the host, sometimes on the much appropriate, from time to time at a different table. Officers get priority about civilians. If a guest speaker has no rank or standing, he/she is positioned as close to the middle (proper of the host) as possible with no offending rank priority. Chaplains are typically bundled at the head desk, commonly at the far still left of the President.

Warning Phone calls

15 moment and 5 moment warning calls are ordinarily sounded to inform the attendees that dinner is about to be served, and may perhaps be furnished by a piper. When piping warning phone calls a quick up-tempo tune is demanded but no particular title may be prescribed. In some regiments it would be the Officers Simply call (e.g., “All the Blue Bonnets Are O’er The Border”). A naval custom is to ring “6 bells” (19:00) on a ship’s bell for the 15-moment warning (if dining at 7:15 PM, of course). Dinner may be signaled by a brief pipe tune (“Brose and Butter” is a traditional 1), adopted by the host or grasp of ceremonies asserting, “Dinner is served!”


The attendees (other than the head desk) will carry on into the eating room and keep on being standing driving their chairs the nearer to leading table, the bigger the rank or seniority. You may possibly be asked for to pipe in the company. The head table kinds up in buy of seating, led by the host and the principal visitor. When cued, lead the individuals of the head table into the eating area enjoying an acceptable tune “Roast Beef of Previous England”, “A Man’s A Gentleman for all That”, “Prince of Denmark’s March”, or the regimental march. If room permits, parade counter clockwise all-around the area. This is especially important when flying a drone banner. The regimental crest on the obverse of the banner is generally shown 1st. When anyone is in area, proceed to march, and complete participating in at the halt near the eating-space entrance. At a sign from the host, halt enjoying and remain at notice till grace has been mentioned. If you are not to provide the new music throughout dinner, march from the home after grace is claimed.

Publishing the Hues

An honor guard may possibly submit and retire the shades as a piper you may be asked for to pipe them in and out. As the American and Canadian national anthems can’t be correctly performed on the pipes, other correct patriotic tunes should be selected. If you march in with the shade guard, make positive that you happen to be effectively rehearsed in their drill first they march in near buy with wheeling actions to transform path. Of study course, if not taking part in stand at focus with pipes down for the Countrywide Anthem(s). If you’re flying a drone banner, watch the colour guard and drop your bass drone from horizontal when they dip the colours.

The Lament

In some armed service and veterans companies it is customary to remember comrades killed in action, in some cases with an vacant place location, sometimes with a modest table before the head table. You may perhaps be requested to enjoy a lament in their memory. “Flowers of the Forest” is regular, but other laments could get the job done equally as well if the host has expressed no choice.

Piping in the Beef

In some traditions, the key course (ordinarily beef) is ceremoniously piped in to the head desk (or “Mr. Vice”), which will sample it and formally announce it fit for use. “Roast Beef of Outdated England” or “A Man’s a Man For All That” could be employed if not played beforehand to pipe in the head table. You may well pipe the beef out as well.

Piping in the Haggis

If haggis is served (this sort of as a Burn’s Meal), pipe the haggis to the head desk to “A Man’s a Gentleman For All That”. Stand at awareness for the recital of Burn’s “Address to a Haggis”, and take part in the toast to his “immortal memory”. Pipe the haggis out to “Neil Gow’s Farewell to Whisky”.

Most important Course Music

Wait until all at the head table has been served prior to starting to enjoy ideal selections intermittently during the major program. A piobaireachd is normally regarded customary. If parading around the area, it is customary to start “widdershins” counterclockwise. If traveling a pipe banner, it may be proper to countermarch as very well, in get to display the unit crest on the obverse aspect. Prior to the port wine remaining served, the host/delegate will signal you to end enjoying.

Piping in the Port

An old custom is the piping in of the port wine for the Loyal Toast. Right after dessert and coffee are served, tables are cleared except for the table decorations and wine glasses. No specific songs is needed, but it should be short and suitable. On cue, lead the wine stewards into the dining area, positioning yourself at a predetermined location, and carry on to play till the wine is about to be sampled and declared potable by the host. Often the piper will engage in as the port is handed down the tables as the company demand their glasses. Remain at notice right up until the Loyal Toast is drunk and then march from the area, unless demanded to keep for the Toast to the Corps.

Loyal Toast

If a Commonwealth meal (or if Uk attendees are present), you might be requested to enjoy “God Help save the Queen” right before the Faithful Toast. The particular person proposing the toast will inquire everybody to stand and be part of him in a toast to the Queen. The member will then elevate his/her wineglass shoulder significant and say: “The Queen”. The assembly will answer: “The Queen”.

If an American meal, the host might suggest a toast to the Commander-in-Chief. Mr. Vice seconds this by soaring and addressing the firm, expressing, “Gentlemen, the Commander-in-Main of the United States”. Every single member and visitor then stands, repeats in unison the toast (e.g., “The Commander-in-Main of the United States”), sips the consume, and remains standing. The band then plays the National Anthem. If piping, perform “The united states the Gorgeous” or “God Bless The us”. At the conclusion of the songs, users and visitors are once again seated.

Toast to the Corps

You may be asked for to perform the regimental march prior to a Toast to the Corps. Unfortunately, the only American regimental marches that “match” perfectly on the pipes are the “Marine Corps Hymn” and “Semper Paratus”.

Having to pay the Piper

At the conclusion of your effectiveness, the host could present you (or the guide piper) a quaich that contains a dram (about 3.5 ml) of whisky. Stand to the left of the host. Having the quaich in the two arms, maintain it shoulder higher and experience the head desk. It is conventional for the piper to toast the head table (Sláinte! “to your wellbeing” in Gaelic phonetically Slanjer or Slanja), change to the firm and give a official toast. Subsequent the toast, you might be expected to drink the whisky in one draught, toast the firm (Sláinte!), and flip the cup more than and kiss the base. Next the ceremony, acquire your go away of the head table and march from the place. Until you happen to be Gaelic is incredibly very good, you are possibly most effective off giving your official toast in English.

The traditional Pipe Major’s toast of the Liverpool Scottish may well be adapted to a vary of gatherings


Slainte mhor, Slainte Banrighinn

Slainte agus buaidh gu brath

le Gillean Forbasach.


Slanjervaw, slanjer banreen

Slanjer aggus booey goo bra

la gillian forbusach


Very good health and fitness, overall health to the Queen

Wellness and accomplishment for ever

to the Forbes lads


At the summary of the dinner, you could be requested to play the Countrywide Anthem. As neither “The Star Spangled Banner” nor “Oh Canada” can be performed effectively on the limited tonal variety of the pipes, participate in “The us the Lovely” or “Maple Leaf Permanently” as a substitute. Of course, if not playing stand at attention with pipes down for the National Anthem(s). If you are traveling a drone banner, watch the coloration guard and drop your bass drone from horizontal when they dip the colors.

Duty Tunes of the 48th Highlanders of Canada

Officers Mess Get in touch with (15 minutes)

“Bannock & Barley Meal”

Food Contact (5 minutes)

“Caller Herrin'”

Pipe in Guests

“Lt. Col. Robertson”

Pipe in Head Table

“Highland Laddie”


“Flowers of the Forest”

Initially Set (Principal Class)

Ends with “Highland Laddie”

Second Established (Dessert)

Ends with “Lt. Col. Robertson”

Pipe Major’s Toast:


A Mhàidseir na pìoba, òlamaid deoch-slàinte!

(Pipe Important, permit us consume a toast)

Pipe Major’s reply:

A h-uile latha a chì ‘s nach fhaic, an dà fhicheadamh ‘s a h-ochd gu bràth! Slàinte don Bhànrigh! Slàinte Mhòr! Slàinte!

(Each day that I see you, or that I do not see you, the 48th without end! Wellbeing to the Queen! Terrific fantastic wellness! Overall health!)