Monday, July 07, 2008

Wedding Hymns and Music

It must be that season. Even Midsomer Murders featured weddings this week in its usual collection of bizarre rural carnage.

My fellow blogger Steve has been discussing wedding hymns here. Apart from the vicar of Dibley music, things don't appear to have changed much since I was a curate at a church that had 50-60 weddings per annum. Kept us busy on Saturdays - my 'personal best' is 5 weddings at 2 venues on one day (4 at St Mary's, Greasley, followed by one at 5-15pm at Sawley)

Anyway I do remember one couple coming in, who didn't really know any hymns, but they wanted a hymn from the wedding of one set of grandparents: The Voice That Breathed o'er Eden (written by John Keble). The exact text varies, but I eventually traced it to Hymns Ancient and Modern Standard Edition [it's also English Hymnal 348]

Quite apart from the rather strange imagery (such as God giving away the bride as he gave away Eve) we had to point out that no-one would know it, including the clergy. Since the couple didn't know it either we eventually abandoned it as a hymn and asked the organist to play the tune at some point in the proceedings. I think that's the wedding where we sang the Lord's My Shepherd to Crimond - that's the funeral tune, not the Dibley setting.

Hopefully the ensuing marriage didn't contain too much of death's dark vale.


liz said...

I was recently asked if we could sing abide with me - the couple were ardent rugby fans and that was virtually the only hymn they knew, from frequent attendance at Murrayfield. I explained that the lyrics weren't quite fitting for a celebration of marriage but had a job putting them off."hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes/shine through the gloom and point me to the skies etc. LOL

Mike Peatman said...


I have a distant memory of a wedding where it was actually used. It was a situation where I was covering for someone else.