Tune of the Day: Flowers of the Forest
This ancient Scottish tune was first recorded in the John Skene of Halyards Manuscript (circa 1620) as “Flowres of the Forrest”, but it was probably composed earlier.
Several sets of lyrics have since been added to the tune, notably Jean Elliot's version in 1756. However, most renditions are played on the Great Highland Bagpipe. Due to the content of the lyrics (the lament makes reference to the Battle of Flodden Field of 1513, when the Scots army of James IV was soundly defeated by the English) and the reverence for the tune, many pipers will only perform it at funerals or memorial services, and only practice it in private. For instance, it was played by massed pipers at the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965.
It is now standard practice in the British military to use this tune to mark the death of a soldier in Afghanistan during the official memorial service.
Thanks to Ailsa for suggesting this tune!