The Use of Hymns in Wedding Ceremonies

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A collection of Hymnals from several Christian Denominations. — Photo Eric Ortner

On August 1st, 2009 I had the privilege of performing in a small orchestra for a wedding at Overlook Methodist Church in Woodstock, NY.  The bride came from a very musical family. Most of the members of her extended family had training on a traditional classical instrument, so there was a nice balance of brass, woodwind and strings. Because time did not allow for this diverse crowd from all across the country to rehearse, the bride decided to pick out several of her family’s favorite hymns.

Religious Hymns can be a wonderful and important addition to any wedding ceremony. The pieces are always well written with great four-part counterpoint. This makes it very easy for a string or brass quartet to perform them for preludes or postludes. Performed solely as instrumental music in this manner a series of hymns makes for perfect background music because the melodies tend to be simplistic, yet rich in tone. The lyrics of these compositions also consist of the appropriate themes of love, commitment, and strength, which all easily tie into a meaningful wedding service.

Hymns can also be very useful to help heighten the feeling of unity within a family during a wedding ceremony. Two sides of a family singing a familiar hymn can create a tremendous bond, where both sides sing the praises of the happy couple as one.

In longer ceremonies hymns are helpful in keeping the congregation involved and attentive. Hymns also give members of the congregation more of a sense of involvement in the ceremony. Rather than just bearing witness to the vows, hymns enable family members the opportunity to actively participate in the service. The best part is that if your ceremony takes place in a church, every member of the congregation will have the music in a hymnal right in front of them. Therefore supplying music is one less element of planning that you have to worry about.

Families with a strong base in faith often have favorite hymns that have major significance to their spiritual and physical lives. What could be a better music to include in a marriage ceremony than music with this sort of personal meaning.

The following is a list of suggested hymns appropriate for weddings:

• Eternal God, Before Your Throne We Bend
• Blest Be the Tie That Binds
• Breathe on Me, Breath of God
• Earth and All Stars
• For the Beauty of the Earth
• Greensleeves
• If You But Trust in God to Guide You
• In Christ There is No East or West
• Jesus Thy Boundless Love to Me
• Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
• Let Me Be Yours Forever
• Lord of All Nations Grant Me Grace
• Morning Has Broken
• O God, I Love Thee
• O God, Our Help in Ages Past
• Oh, Blest the House
• One There is, Above All Others
• Our Father, By Whose Name
• Thee Will I Love, My Strength My Tow’r

Maybe you have other titles that you used in your own wedding or sang at weddings you attended that have special meaning to you. Please share them below and explain why they make a great hymn at a wedding.

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One Response to “The Use of Hymns in Wedding Ceremonies”

  1. Robert says:

    I encourage you to add “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” to the list. John Goss’s hymn tune Lauda Anima works well as a processional. (It was used by Queen Elizabeth in this way, at her wedding decades ago.)

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