Thursday, December 20, 2007

Flower of the Forest

I've been in Atlanta today on a couple of things and happened upon the Georgia State Patrol Honor Guard practicing for Speaker Murphy's funeral tomorrow here at the Capitol.

I wish you could hear it. The building is filled with bagpipe music, Amazing Grace.

The piper, Dan Bray, is from Perry. He said he also played here as they brought Coretta Scott King into the Capitol after her death last year. The rest of the guard has gone to dinner, but Bray is still here, practicing over and over and over again.

Bray said that, tomorrow, he will play "Flowers of the Forest" as they carry Speaker Murphy's body into the Capitol. That, he said, was a popular funeral song during World War II.

Murphy served in the Navy, I believe.

Bray said he will also play "Danny Boy" because Murphy "was proud of his Irish heritage" and, at the family's request, Amazing Grace.

I looked up "Flowers of the Forest" in a couple of places. It seems to be an old Scottish song, possibly commemorating the Battle of Flodden, during which thousands of Scottish soldiers fell to the English. There are several versions of the words, none are believed to be original. The oldest I could find were written in the 1720s, though they are modernized here:

Sorrow and woe for the order sent our lads to the Border.
The English for once, by guile won the day,
The Flowers of the Forest, that always fought the foremost,
The pride of our land lies cold in the clay.

I like that. The public viewing of Speaker Murphy's body runs from noon to 4 p.m. tomorrow in the Capitol rotunda. There will be a visitation from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at West Central Technical College near his home in Bremen.

The address: 176 Murphy Campus Boulevard in Waco.

On Saturday the late speaker's funeral will also be open to the public at West Central. It begins at 11 a.m.

By the way, I'd been waiting for this piece.

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