Wedding Music

Planning Music for your Wedding Service

While a very small part of the overall cost of a wedding, music can play a big part in the mood and overall effect of the day. The following is designed to help you plan the music at the wedding Church Service. This is a very special occasion and an incredibly significant rite of passage in one’s life. Like other rites of passage such as graduations, the wedding ceremony is steeped in tradition and is a very formal way of marking the occasion. Choosing to have a church wedding is more than just signing a legal document. The suggestions below reflect the significance and dignity of the occasion.

Music at a Wedding Service happens in the following places depending on the denomination of the church in which you are to be married. Beneath are some suggestions to help you begin to think about your choices for your special day.

Notes:

  • Those marked * are perhaps the most popular choices.
  • Most will be available for you to hear various versions on YouTube. Remember that what you hear on YouTube may differ in detail from what you hear on the day when played by a traditional and dignified pipe organ.
  • Email Brett McKern to ask him to play the organ at your wedding.
  • Sometimes other musicians are invited to perform at a wedding service as well as the organ. These can include a vocal soloist, a choir or a trumpeter in addition to the organ music. Feel free to ask Brett McKern for recommendations of such musicians.
  • Specially composed music: Sometimes couples like to have a piece of music that was specially composed for their wedding day. Sometimes very famous pieces of music have come about in this way. Brett McKern is an award-winning composer of church music. See his page on composition for more details.

Catholic Church:

i.            Music as guests arrive – See number 1 below
ii.            Processional (music or hymn) – See numbers 2 & 3 below
iii.            Responsorial Psalm (may be said) – See number 6 below
iv.            Gospel Alleluia (may be said) – See number 7 below
v.            Music during the Signing of the Register – See number 4 below
vi.            Recessional (music or hymn)See numbers 3 & 5 below

If a Nuptial Mass, you may also need:

vii.            Offertory (music or hymn) organ may improvise or see number 3 below
viii.            Music during the Communion (hymn, soloist, choir or organ music) – See 10
ix.            Mass setting (may be said) – See number 8 below
x.            Our Father (may be said) – See number 9 below

Anglican, Uniting, Presbyterian and some other churches:

i.            Music as guests arrive – See number 1 below
ii.            Processional – See number 2 below
iii.            Hymns – See number 3 below
iv.            Music during the Signing of the Register – See number 4 below
v.            Recessional – See number 5 below

1. As guests arrive:

Usually the organist will select music from their repertoire that is suitable at this point, unless you have any special requests. If so, please discuss that with the organist.

 

2. Bride’s Procession:

  1. Wagner Bridal March from Lohrengrin *
  2. Clarke Trumpet Voluntary * (often called Prince of Denmark’s March)
  3. Charpientier Prelude to a Te Deum
  4. Purcell Trumpet Tune
  5. Stanley Trumpet Tune
  6. Rawsthorne Fanfare for a Bride
  7. Handel March from Scipio
  8. Handel Coro from Water Music

3. Hymns:

You don’t have to have any hymns at a wedding service or may have one or several. Think about who will be there, would they sing, and are they regular church goers who would know any hymns. It can be embarrassing if nobody sings! You can also considering hiring a soloist who may help lead the hymns, or a choir to sing them.

Very well-known hymns:

  1. Morning has Broken (Tune: Bunessan) *
  2. Amazing Grace (Tune: Amazing grace) *
  3. Joyful, joyful, we adore thee (Tune: Ode to Joy) *
  4. And did those feet in ancient time (Tune: Jerusalem)

Praise hymns, focusing on God at the centre of a marriage:

  1. Praise my soul the King of Heaven (Tune: Praise my soul)
  2. Praise the Lord! ye heavens adore him (Tune: Austria)
  3. All Creatures of our God and King (Tune: Lasst uns Erfreuen)

Hymns of God’s love that we mirror in human marriage:

  1. O Perfect Love (Tune: O Perfect Love)
  2. Love divine, all loves excelling (Tune: Hyfrydol)
  3. The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want (Tune: Crimond)

Hymns of prayer:

  1. Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart (Tune: Slane)
  2. Guide me, O thou great Redeemer (Tune: Cwm Rhondda)

4a. Organ Music during the Signing of the Register:

  1. J.S. Bach Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring *
  2. J.S. Bach Air from Suite No.3. in D * (often colloquially called ‘Air On the G string’)
  3. J.S. Bach Sheep May Safely Graze
  4. Rawsthorne Prière
  5. Handel Ombra mai fù (Largo) from Xerxes
  6. Handel Air from Water Music
  7. Schubert Ave Maria
  8. Haydn St. Anthony Chorale
  9. Pachelbel Canon in D
  10. J.S. Bach Prelude in C Major
  11. Warlock Andante Tranquillo from Capriol Suite
  12. Boyce Gavotte
  13. Rawsthorne Prelude on the Londonderry Air

4b. Suggestions for soloists to sing:

Soloists may sing during the service, while the Register is signed, or as guests arrive. Discuss this with them. Note that their repertoire may vary greatly depending on the singer’s voice type and the repertoire in which they specialise.

  1. Schubert Ave Maria *
  2. J.S. Bach Jesu, joy of man’s desiring *
  3. Bach/Gounod Ave Maria
  4. Handel Let the Bright Seraphim from Samson
  5. Handel Where’er You Walk
  6. Franck Panis Angelicus
  7. Rutter The Lord Bless you and keep you
  8. Rutter Gaelic Blessing
  9. Mozart Laudate Dominum
  10. Mozart Alleluia
  11. Hurford Litany to the Holy Spirit

 4c. Suggestions for choirs to sing:

Choirs may sing during the service, while the Register is signed, during Communion, or as guests arrive. Discuss this with the choir’s director. Note that their repertoire may vary greatly depending on the choral voices available and the repertoire in which they specialise.

  1. J.S. Bach Jesu, joy of man’s desiring *
  2. Rutter The Lord Bless you and keep you
  3. Rutter Gaelic Blessing
  4. Rutter For the beauty of the earth
  5. Walton Set me as a seal upon thy heart
  6. Tallis If ye love me
  7. S.S. Wesley Love one another from Blessed be the God and Father
  8. Anon Rejoice in the Lord alway
  9. Purcell Rejoice in the Lord alway
  10. Batten O sing joyfully
  11. Byrd Sing Joyfully
  12. Goodall The Lord is my shepherd
  13. Hurford Litany to the Holy Spirit

5. Recessional:

  1. Mendelssohn Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream *
  2. Widor Toccata from Symphony No. 5
  3. Charpientier Prelude to a Te Deum
  4. Handel Hornpipe from Water Music
  5. Handel Coro from Water Music
  6. Handel La Rejoissance from Music for the Royal Fireworks
  7. Handel Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
  8. Clarke Trumpet Voluntary (often called Prince of Denmark’s March)
  9. Purcell Trumpet Tune
  10. Stanley Trumpet Tune
  11. Lang Tuba Tune
  12. Karg-Elert Marche Triomphale on Now thank we all our God
  13. Meyerbeer Coronation March from Le Phrophete
  14. Guilmant Grand Choeur alla Handel
  15. Praetorius Ballet de Matelotz
  16. Campra Rigaudon
  17. Mendelssohn Recessional March from Athalia (sometimes called War March of the Priests)

6. Psalms at a Catholic Wedding:

Psalms in the Catholic tradition are responsorial and are led by a cantor with a congregational response. Gelineau Psalms are common, as are some other settings in the Catholic Worship Book and other sources. Ask your priest what the Psalm of the day will be and the musicians may help you find a musical setting. The Psalm is often also said.

7. Gospel Acclamation at a Catholic Wedding:

Like a Catholic responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Alleluia is led by a cantor. There are many musical settings and that used will depend on local custom and what is known to your musicians and congregation. In Lent alleluias are not sung, but other texts such as ‘Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, king of endless glory!’. These vary each week in Lent, so check the text with your priest. Musical settings are available for a cantor to lead. The Gospel Acclamation is also sometimes said.

8. Mass setting at a Catholic Wedding:

The tradition is that of Gregorian chant, and A Chant Mass for the Assembly is commonly used. Another Mass which is well known is the Mass Shalom by Colin Smith (rev. Paul Mason). The parts of the Mass sung at a wedding include the Sanctus et Benedictus, Memorial Acclamation, and Agnus Dei.

 

9. The Our Father at a Catholic Wedding:

If sung, the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer) is almost always sung to the chant setting.


10. Music during Communion:

If a soloist is singing, music such as the below are particularly appropriate:

  1. Franck Panis Angelicus
  2. Mozart Ave Verum corpus

If a choir is singing, music such as the below are particularly appropriate:

  1. Franck Panis Angelicus
  2. Mozart Ave Verum corpus
  3. Byrd Ave Verum corpus
  4. Elgar Ave Verum corpus
  5. Goss O Saviour of the World
  6. Vaughan Williams O Taste and See

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