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Monday, June 09, 2008

A Little Wedding Music

Many of you have been in the capacity of choosing music for a wedding, either from the perspective as being part of the wedding party, or from the perspective of being clergy who guides those choosing the music to create the perfect wedding.

Well, it's something that has been on the minds of my daughter and me as we plan for her upcoming wedding. She either knew one of two things - she really trusted me in choosing music or she thought I might be a force to be reckoned with if I didn't get to have some say. I hope it is the former, and I think it is, since she told someone I knew what I was doing. Perhaps I have us all fooled.

Before I begin, it's not that the groom had no say. He left it up to us. I think he got his say on the choice of the china.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the choices which we found.

Benedetto Marcello's Psalm 19 can be found on the CD Michael Murray At The Cathedral Of St. John The Divine: Works By Franck, Widor, Dupré, Bach and Others - this album is a power house of organ works and of course at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine shows off each piece to its fullest. Want to hear Marcello's Psalm 19? You can hear an excerpt on the link above or on Youtube here.

In exploring the recommendations, I found that there was music and composers I sort of knew in a vague sort of way, but didn't know. John Stanley, a friend and contemporary of Handel, composed a number of organ voluntaries with one of the movements you can listen to here. However, if you are a big fan of his music, go here and listen to John Stanley: Organ Voluntaries.

This is one of my favorite hymns along with one of my daughter's favorites also. Praise my Soul the King of heaven will be one of our congregational hymns with the descant on the fourth verse. You can hear an excerpt from this album Songs Of Praise.

The King of Love My Shepherd is will be sung as a solo by a musician friend of mine. I always told her I wanted her to sing at one of my children's weddings, and it is lovely it is going to happen! You can hear one arrangement of it here on Youtube. A choral arrangement can be found on this CD Sing Ye Heavens - Hymns for All Time with the Cambridge Singers and John Rutter. One just can't go wrong with this choral group and conductor.

Our organ is a small Baroque organ, built for our small Carpenter Gothic church. Though Widor's Toccata for Organ from Symphony #5 w(MP3 download)was composed for a much bigger organ in mind, we will have an arrangement of this piece for the postlude. Here is a performance of it, played on two organs by Diane Bish and Simon Preston.

The music doesn't stop here. We move on to the reception and let's say I got a surprise. The daughter who once listened to some music that let's just say was disconcerting and made me wonder if she was raised by her mother, announced to me, "Mom, I have a list of music I want for the reception." The list was music to her mother's ears. Finally, we have come around full circle and now... she wants... music from Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong. We can do this. I'm now excited.

I'll share with you this Youtube playlist. Once you get to this link, click on play all videos.

So... I ask you, what memories of music do you have from your wedding? Or... what can you share from weddings you have attended or presided? I am sure there are stories to tell. Share with us your story in the comments.

The wedding here??? June 28.


  1. What a fun post! I love hearing what you all are choosing for the wedding music...and the reception.

    As some of you know, my DH and I eloped and were married at the local Renaissance Faire by a Methodist clergy reading the Episcopal service at my request. So we didn't have music...except for the music of Cranmer's glorious words, and the incidental music you hear at Scarborough Faire.

  2. Thanks, Mary Beth, it has been fun picking out the music - one thing about my daughter - one never has to worry about whether she likes it or not - she will say "I don't like that" in a heartbeat. You have no doubt her opinions on things!

    She was quick to tell me NO on Trumpet Voluntary of Jeremiah Clarke - it was used at TOO MANY weddings. That knocked that one out quickly.

  3. We invited a friend of mine and a friend of his to do/lead music at our wedding. We wanted to honor them by asking them to take part. In retrospect, I wouldn't ask friends, I'd hire pros. My friend was great, well prepared, etc. (turns out he is a professional musician now). Hubby's friend, unfortunately, was unprepared (didn't even look at the music until the night before) and she didn't seem to see the problem in that. No surprise, she didn't perform well.
    Not the end of the world (the wedding went on, no hissy fits were had), but music is so important to me...obviously this still irritates me a little.

  4. Thankfully, my friend who is singing at the wedding is a professional - she has a degree in music with an emphasis in church music, plus is a paid singer in churches. Every performance I have heard her sing, i has been exemplary.

    On another note, I once sang for a friend's wedding, and felt prepared. Little did I know I would have an anxiety attack and get cotton mouth - I have no idea how I sounded, but I know how I felt. It took a long time before I would sing a solo and I will now not sing at a wedding.

  5. I married an organist and choral conductor, so the music was probably the part of the wedding on which we spent the most time. The musical foundation was a 40-person choir and organist. I processed to Praise My Soul, one of a whole bunch of big hymns we sang through the service. We signed the register to Mozart's Laudate Dominum from the Solemn Vespers. And we recessed to the Widor Toccata, which was just right.

    I think the music is one of the most significant things that made our wedding a reflection of who we are.

    What a fun post; thanks Cathy!

  6. Chorus, I loved what you said about the music being a reflection of who you two are. Well said.

    Widor is one of my favorites! But I really don't like singling out a favorite, because I like so many of them.

  7. When my husband and I were planning our music, I had the hymn numbers etc. saved onto a floppy disk. The organist couldn't open it on any of the computers at church, so we had to start from scratch. The result was far better. One hymn we used that we were unfamiliar with was, "Hear Us Now, Our God and Father," (LBW #288 & ELW #585). The tune was familiar however.

    What an exciting time for you. They do certainly come round so to speak.

  8. the hotcup's favorite memory was having "Joy to the World" as our recessional. lest you think we were being disrespectful it was the Christmas season... gold angels, white poinsettias, greenery... *sigh* those were the days...

  9. As hubby and I are both clergy (he being Presbyterian Church in Canada, myself United Church of Canada) and singers/musicians, we wanted lots of music at our wedding, but not the choices that many of the couples we were doing weddings for were choosing.
    Hymns were "Come to a Wedding", "God Who Gives to Life its Goodness", and "I Come With Joy" (all out of the Anglican Common Praise hymn book). In our desire to be ecumenical, have communion, and not have our congregations upset at one of them hosting our wedding and the other being left out, we got married at the campus chapel which was Anglican.
    Processional was "Prelude to a Te Deum", Signing of the Register was "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Recessional was "Hornpipe from Watermusic"
    Scary part for me was that I had to pull out the scrapbook I made to remember these choices. How quickly time flies - and we've only been married five years!

  10. I broke my own rule about music in weddings for my own wedding. I'm not too hard-nosed about instrumental music, but REALLY prefer and almost insist that music with words be written for a worship setting or be "religious" in some way. My cop-out rule is that is express a Scriptural view of love and/or marriage. That allows some secular stuff in that does sicken me with all the "I love you more than anything" (even God?) stuff. It also helps keep out some of the Christian stuff with bad theology.

    ANYWAY! At my own wedding I had at my disposal two female opera singers. One was a classmate from seminary and the other was a current church member and friend. Hard not to want to use them in some way!

    For my entrance they sang the Offenbach duet "Belle Nuit, O Nuit D'Amour" from the opera Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann). This recording is a little soft on my computer. It was AWESOME to come into. In my opinion it helped take the focus off of "watch the bride in the white dress" because it made people want to still listen to the music which was GORGEOUS! The was my most unique piece.

    Almost as a joke, but also because the song was pretty my mom's entrance piece (well, all the parents and grandparents, but it was picked for my mom) was Handel's "The Arrival of Queen Sheba".

    One of the singers also sang two pieces during communion. My favorite was "Sing Ye a Joyful Song", from Dvorak's Biblical Songs, taken from Psalm 98 and 96. I picked it because it mentions corn, and my husband grew up farming, and we were in Nebraska, so it seemed the most fitting! (Couldn't find a link to it)

  11. I don't want to hijack this thread with a completely different discussion, but I'm also looking for a little input on a Service of Healing and Wholeness I'm putting together for this coming Wednesday night. If you have the chance, can you pop over here for a second?

    Many thanks!!!

  12. We had a ton of music at our wedding 20 years ago. DH and I are both clergy. We had two professional trumpeters for the Jeremiah Clarke voluntary for the attendants' processional and "Lift High the Cross" for me (the bride.) We sang "Be Thou My Vision" as the congregation and my non sister-in-law sang Handel's Wedding hymn from his opera Ptolemy, and the organist played the same Widor piece that you've chosen for the recessional. Happy memories.

  13. This was good stuff! The Toccata was actually our wedding recessional. It is a wonderful piece - so celebratory! And I will always remember the joy it brings to me.

    HOWEVER - the organist at our wedding, who went to the Univ of Michigan decided to have the last laugh... he did a "slight" variation on the ending and added a strain of "Hail to the Victors" in the final resolution. Since I'm a Buckeye and we love to tweak each other, he just couldn't resist. I bought him a pair of Buckeye men's thong underwear as a wedding present. The Buckeyes were - um - appropriately placed. ;)


  14. Fun to remember...

    Processional: "Lift High the Cross" (LBW 377, and yes, we had a crucifer to lead the way)

    Hymn of the Day: "Will You Let Me Be Your Servant"

    During communion, my husband's nieces played piano-flute duets on some favorite hymn tunes

    Recessional: "All Creatures of Our God and King" (LBW 527)

    And my biggest request: Widor's Toccata as postlude. So, so fantastic.

    Hope the wedding is wonderful!

  15. We/the congregation sang "I was there to hear your borning cry" as the opening/processional song.

    I didn't have anyone to walk me down the aisle and I didn't want to do it alone...and our location (by accident) allowed my husband and I to come out from each side and meet at the center in front of the pastor as we sang the "when you find someone to share your time..." verse. I thought it was pretty cool.

  16. Hubby and I have a very hard time remembering what our dance song was, but we remember the parents dance and usually say that if someone asks.
    Its "What a wonderful world"

  17. How fun to think back and try to remember! Let's see... we processed to Charpentier's Prelude to the Te Deum--a popular choice it would seem--and as an odd reversal, we recessed to Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. It's so joyful and exuberant that it makes a great recessional so don't let the name fool you. We got married during the Christmas season, so we had instrumental versions of a few carols for prelude and postlude. I'm pretty sure our first dance was Harry Connick, Jr. singing "How to Make Two Lovers of Friends." I guess you can figure how our relationship started. :)

  18. Oh, lovely!

    I am thinking of my daughter's wedding. It had lots of music, but the recessional was "I'm a Believer" -- not the Monkees version but the one from Shrek. WHo sang it? Smashmouth? Anyhow, it was such an odd choice, and so different than anything else, but so completely fitting for the couple. The reception was at night in a park, so we danced on a cement patio by candlelight. The song list included several that are on your You Tube list. A memorable moment was my daughter, white, flouncy skirt held up, dancing with her brother to Glenn Miller's swing classic, "In the Mood." It was delightful.

  19. My sweetie and I are both pastors so we structured our entire service around our scripture: Revelation 21 - the new heaven and the new earth. We didn't want any of our family to mistakenly believe we were worshipping our love (several non-Christians and atheists in the pack)so we wanted our service to focus on our marriage only being a foretaste of the love and joy of the kingdom of God. So, our music was "Amazing Grace" and "Blessed Assurace" -- it has the line "oh what a foretaste of glory divine".

    I don't remember the prelude, it was pretty classic, and we recessed to the Queen of Sheba because it is so happy sounding to me.

    It was so meaningful to us to have everything, especially the music,(even our ring inscriptions) tie into the scripture that we use as kind of our mission statement for our marriage. We still get choked up at Blessed assurance as a result.

  20. Our wedding was the pinnacle of a long journey for both of us. It was a perfect day, one of my top three perfect and most wonderful days. Anyway, we carefully planned our ceremony, choosing music that was meaningful to both of us. Here were some of our choices:

    Processional of the wedding party/candlelighting - Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"

    Bridal Processional - Sara Groves' "He's Always Been Faithful To Me" beautiful and very meaningful!

    Recessional - Darlene Zschech's "Shout to the Lord"

    Happy planning! And even when it becomes challenging, may you both find joy!


  21. Truthfully, I'm not sure what we used for processional or recessional, other than the fact that I refused to use "Here Comes The Bride" or the Mendelsohn piece from Midsummer Night's Dream. The dim recesses of memory say we used Handel's Water Music for one and Vivaldi's Spring for the other, but don't hold me to that. However, at our reception, I sang "I Only Have Eyes For You" for my new husband, and we both bawled.


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