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A church wedding is not primarily a social occasion but a service of congregational worship. The center of the service is God, not the couple, and the music selected for the occasion needs to reflect the majesty of God, to give thanks for the blessings of marriage, and to ask God’s favor on the mutual covenant being made by the couple.

To this end, texts that are to be sung should be true to the biblical foundations of Christian faith and should express both the heritage of faithful people throughout history and the resolve to live out this faith in our own day. In the Episcopal Church The Hymnal 1982 is the basic source book for appropriate music since a theological standard has already been placed on its contents. This primary source may be supplemented by hymns and anthems from other sources with comparable biblical and theological integrity. It is appropriate to use hymns for processionals and recessionals and for the congregation to sing hymns during the service. By using The Hymnal 1982 as a basic source book, one is protected from secular musical intrusions. Secular music, whatever its quality, is not appropriate in a worship situation and can be deferred for use at the wedding reception. Those planning weddings need to seek and accept the advice of church music professionals who are trained to guide in the selection of music. The repertory they can offer will provide many alternatives to the uninspired music that has unfortunately become all too common.

Music is a powerful symbol. Music for a Christian wedding symbolizes the hopes and aspirations of all for the couple’s commitment to each other and to their future in Christ.

by John R. Shannon, Professor of Music Emeritus, Sweet Briar College, reprinted with editorial changes to reflect current understanding and practice



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