The Song That Played At The End Of Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

Hundreds of thousands of mourners, possibly even as many as a million of them, according to The Guardian, lined the streets of London for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, while tens of millions more watched it on TV or online via streaming. The event gave the rest of the world a window into the way Britain mourns its departed monarchs. Further still, it gave a glimpse into the tremendous amount of love and affection Britons had and have for their queen specifically and their monarchy broadly.

The somber ceremony was, of course, punctuated by music, including (perhaps not unexpectedly) mournful funeral dirges and hymns, such as would be expected at the funeral of a Christian in the West. As a British event, it also included music by British composers, such as Sir Edward Elgar.

However, the ceremony was capped by a bagpipe piece, a nod to the tradition of the bagpipe in the British Isles. And the final song, performed by the queen's personal piper, was "Sleep, dearie, sleep."

Sleep, Dearie, Sleep

For nearly two centuries, according to PA Media (via Yahoo News), the king or queen (as the case may be) has had their own personal bagpipe player or "piper" as they're known in the local parlance. The position goes back to 1853 when it was established by Queen Victoria, at a time before the recording and dissemination of music was commonplace; in order to hear the dulcet tones of the bagpipes (or any instrument, for that matter), you had to have a person who could play them on your payroll.

Over the centuries, 17 individuals have had that job, including the man who currently wields that title, Pipe Major Paul Burns, who performed at the end of the queen's funeral.

The song he played was "Sleep, dearie, sleep." Its lyrics, via Musicxmatch, are a simple exhortation for the hearer to take some long-needed rest. Transliterated from a Scottish brogue, the lyrics read, "Sodger, lie doon on yer wee pickle straw / It's no very broad and it's no very braw / But, Sodger, it's better than naething at a', / Sae sleep, Sodger, sleep."