(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

Christy And The Pipers

'Twas a score of years since I'd heard the pipes,
But the other night I heard them;
There are sweet old memories in my heart,
And the music woke and stirred them.

In the armories, at the big parade
The highland regiment was giving,
A half-dozen pipers piping away-
Ah! 'twas music, as sure as your living.

Donald's lowland, he shook his head at me,
And glowered with every feature,
And a pretty young lassie just behind
Said: 'Oh, what a funny old creature! '

But the skirl o' the pipes got in my ears,
In my eyes, and made them misty;
I laughed and I cried, and Donald said low:
'Dinna act so daft, noo, Christy! '

'Do ye no see the elder sitting there?
Dinna act sae daft, my wooman.
Can ye no hear the airs o' auld lang syne
Wi'oot fashin' yersel' sae, wooman? '

But the skirl o' the pipes got in my heart,
It got in my throat and choked me,
It got in my feet, and tapped my toes,
And my shame-faced Donald poked me.

'But isn't it grand? O, isn't it grand? '
'Ay, a fine auld player is Mylands,
But the pipes' wild sound disna stir my bluid'-
He was not born in the highlands.

Do you know what I saw as I sat there?
I saw the hills and the heather,
The green, and the lads and the lassies there
All dancing the reels together.

I saw our glen, half hid, and the rocks
Standing guard like grim old watchmen.
Oh, the land o' heather and hill and loch
Must e'en be dear to a Scotchman.

And I saw, too, the soldiers blithe and brave
Their flag to the breeze unfurling,
As they marched away on a morning fair
To the bagpipes' merry skirling.

My brother was one. As he kissed my cheek,
I could hear him proudly saying:
'Ho! you'll know when we come marching home,
For you'll hear our pipers playing.'

Oh, the bonniest lads in kilt and hose-
Braver men, you cannot find them-
And few, so few, came marching home
To the loved ones left behind them.

'Twas a loyal heart, and a strong right arm,
With a stubborn foe before them;
A soldier's grave in a far off land,
And God's blue sky bending o'er them.

As I hearkened to sweet old martial airs
I could hear my brother saying:
'Ho! you'll know when we come marching home,
For you'll hear our pipers playing.'

There are only harps in heaven, I'm told,
And maybe I shouldn't say it,
For a harp of gold's a wondrous thing
In a hand that's skilled to play it.

But those highland lads, 'twas the pibroch's call
They heard morning, noon, and even,
And the pibroch's call, I believe in my heart,
They will hear in the streets of heaven.

They marched to the old belovèd airs
'Mid the bullets' hail and rattle;
'Twas the last sweet sound that fell on their ears
'Mid the clamor and clang of battle.

O a harp when an angel strikes the strings
Is softer and sweeter, but try
As I will, I cannot fancy a harp
In the hands of, say, Peter MacKay.

And were an angel to proffer him one,
Methinks I can hear him saying:
''Twas not on an instrument like the same
That Pete MacKay will be playing,

'For she neffer set eyes on it before,
Isn't quick to learn, or cleffer;
She'd break the strings if she took it in hand,
She couldn't do it, whateffer.

'So please be excusing old Pete MacKay-
But hark! bring the chanter to me,
I'll play the 'March o' the Cameron Men,'
And afterward 'Bonnie Dundee.''

I told this to Donald late that night;
He said, as he sipped his toddy,
'Do ye ken ye shocked the elder the night?
Yersel' is the doited body.

'And are ye speaking o' bagpipes in Heaven?
Ah, Christy, I'm that astoonded
I'll hae the guid meenister speak tae ye,
For, Christy, ye're no weel groonded.'

Well, if it is heresy to believe
In the promise of the Father,
'Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,'
I am heretical, rather.

I believe when the last loud trump shall sound,
The old flag again unfurling,
My highland lads will come marching home
To the bagpipes grandly skirling.

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