Nuptials Review

Well, they are wed. What to say?

Congratulations to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, to start with. These big occasions in the Abbey are being done extremely well these days. The visit of the Pope last year and then this Royal Wedding are enormous set piece liturgies and they do come off very well. They even made Damian Thompson wish he was an Anglican, but only for the twinkling of an eye.

I liked the dress, liked the copes and loved the music. The words of the liturgy seemed pretty disappointing to me. The surprising thing was a return to exclusive language and all the thous and wilts of the prayer book tradition. I thought we’d moved on from that when Prince Charles and Camilla had their wedding blessing.

It felt to me as though the music was a living tradition – new music commissioned for the day mingled in with a lot of twentieth century music and some trad hymns. The words of the service however just seemed to be Common Worship Series 1 which is very similar to what we would recognise in Scotland as the wedding service from the Scottish Prayer Book 1929.

Actually, not many of us would recognise it at all as the new wedding service seems to be doing rather well. I love working on it with couples – they get loads of options to create a service which is not just an off the peg liturgy but one that they’ve crafted together into something which says what they want to say to one another.

There was a glimpse of that in the prayer that the Bishop of London quoted as having been written by the couple, I suppose.

There were no glimpses of Bishop David in the Abbey though. As we saw nothing to the contrary, we must hope and assume that he enjoyed himself and that gaiters were worn with style and panache.


  1. The Times has a pull-out of the actual order of service, complete with the running order of the clergy procession! Great stuff. Still don’t know who the nuns were tho.

  2. Sisters of the Church, Ham Common, I think, Ryan.

  3. ChickPea says

    That the Sisters had arranged perfectly matching hemlines (ie. equal height from the ground) despite being of very different heights themselves, was a joy to behold (it’s all in the detail – see!) x

  4. Richard says

    I spotted Bishop David during the hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” just after the exchange of vows- second row on left of screen next to one of the trees.

  5. Richard says

    It’s 20:48 into the YouTube recording. Look at the left side of the screen, next to the tree in the second row. The picture was clearer on a larger screen.

  6. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed says

    You can see ++David really well, especially when he scratches his head, starting @ 36:10.

    I thought that the sermon was very “heterosexual”. And I completely disagree with him when he stated that the first reason that God ordained marriage was for the procreation of the species. As I read the sacred myths of Genisis I am pretty certain that the first and primary purpose was as a companion in life. In fact, had Adam found a suitable companion among the other animals of creation, then there would not likely have been any procreation in that myth and things would possibly have progressed very differently than they did!

    But that is just me and how I read it.

  7. agatha says

    DAH-veed, that’s been in the wedding service for centuries, he’s hardly likely to take it out for a heterosexual couple who will, in fact, be in big trouble if they don’t have any children. Not sure what you are suggesting about Adam either but over here that’s illegal.

    • I don’t agree, Agatha. Any use in a wedding service of the notion that God ordained marriage for the procreation of the species is a clear choice these days and not a particularly common one.

      Just one of (the three) options in the modern wedding rite in Scotland says:

      Marriage is given, that husband and wife may comfort and help
      each other, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in
      sorrow and in joy. It is given, that with delight and tenderness they
      may know each other in love, and, through the joy of their bodily
      union, may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives. It is
      given, that they may have children and be blessed in caring for
      them and bringing them up in accordance with God’s will, to his
      praise and glory.

      Even that reference is a long way from what we had yesterday:
      “First, It was ordained for the increase of mankind according to the will of God, and that children might be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.”

      • And Common Worship (the Church of England’s unfortunately named series of modern liturgies) has:
        The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
        in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
        and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
        It is given as the foundation of family life
        in which children are [born and] nurtured
        and in which each member of the family,
        in good times and in bad,
        may find strength, companionship and comfort,
        and grow to maturity in love.

        No modern liturgy that I know states that marriage was ordained by God for the procreation of the species. We’ve just moved on from that idea. At least, I thought we had.

  8. isn’t HRH Prince Charles a Prayer Book Society type? Wouldn’t be surprised if william was just following his Dad’s lead because he likes the thous and wilts (and perhaps because the bride’s father isn’t paying for *this* wedding) – he and Kate were cohabitating after all. The liturgy’s theology was hardly ideal, but I’m not sure that he and Kate personally or people generally will assume that a particular, ideologically fraut definition of marriage was being upheld. The bride didn’t vow to ‘obey’ afterall!

  9. Yes but, Ryan. Yes but.

    The service for Charles and Camilla was something of a hybrid. Old and new cohabiting quite nicely together.

    It just seems sad to me that the church can seem to be talking about marriage in a way that is an anachronism to so many people getting married and so many people marrying them.

    It is scarcely a big deal that Kate didn’t promise to obey. Its not an option in the order of service they chose. Neither, so far as I can see, is it an option in any authorised service in our own church.

    The “obey” issue was just an aunt sally cooked up by the press.

  10. Ah, good point. But I suppose it could be argued that Charles and Camilla were under some degree of pressure not have a service that would overly rile traditionalists? I can dimly recall some debates about divorcees and the Defender of the Faith.

    Also, wouldn’t clergy (within reason!) be expected to shape the service in line with the couple’s expectations of marriage? I’m curious how contemporary clergy like yourself handle couples, perhaps not regular churchgoers, who do believe that marriage is about procreation and expect the service to reflect that? I can certainly conceive of a clergyperson having a response like “well, it’s the Bride’s Big Day, and she wants it to be about Marriage-Ordained-by-God-for-Procreation” – and am not sure that the response would necessarily be wrong!

    Agatha makes a good point – if people, including the Royals themselves, assume that Royal Weddings are largely about procreation then possibly such language can be justified even if one wouldn’t use it elsewhere? We’ll never know what William and Kate’s hypothetical rural village ,small & Sloane-y, wedding liturgy would have been like, after all.

    • What I do, Ryan is ask couples to look through the wedding liturgy and make the choices which they think best represents who they are and what they want to say to one another. Couples tend to enjoy that process. I tend to ask them to make their choices individually and then get together to see what they’ve each chosen – its a good way for couples to talk between themselves about what really matters to them.

      The Scottish Marriage Liturgy 2007 was deliberately crafted to allow the couple to put together their own wedding ceremony within a framework that the church lays out for them.

      I have to confess that I’ve never encountered a bride who believed that getting married was all about the procreation of the species.

      By the way, shall we just pause a moment to remember this photograph?

  11. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed says

    It is funny, Ryan, that you mention that the couple have been “living together” for some time. I mentioned that at Padre Bosco’s Liturgy blog in a conversation about Kate’s private confirmation service and felt I was poo-pooed for being a traditionalist. I had mentioned that I felt the confirmation seemed like legalisms so that he could still be the future King and playing church for a couple who had been publicly cohabiting for some while already.

    Agatha, you jumped to that conclusion by yourself, you naughty girl! I was suggesting just the opposite, that had Adam found a suitable companion there would not likely have been any hanky panky in the story.

    BTW, what you hint about is illegal here also.

    The primates of Ireland and Wales were invited, as well as, the Archbishop of York, but I have not noticed them in the BBC video.

    What I did not realize by watching the Royal Channel feed directly from the BBC, was that folks who watched the feed on the TV networks were subjected to the mindless banter of ill informed news commentators, including the American Broadcasting Company’s insipid, cotton candy-ish Tournament of Roses Parade commentating team, whose repartee is usually constrained to such fascinating topics as the array of exotic barks and the number of celery seeds applied to a particular parade float!

    On the Royal Channel there was no prattle, just the events as they unfolded with a crisp HD picture for my 24″ display, great color and excellent audio, the music was wonderful. I have raced through the on demand video and listened to the music and played it for others a few times now.

  12. any excuse, eh? 😉

    Plus, evangelical churches (say) tend to be more MILFalicious than most, so I suppose that the scenario I describe could have happened to *some* clergyperson.

  13. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed says

    It appears that Kate also forgot an important family tradition! This was begun by the late Queen Mother at her wedding, and was followed by the Queen, as well as Princess Diana and it had been reported that Kate would also lay her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown on her way out of the church. But I recall that she still had it in the state carriage and at one point she had handed it to the Prince as she was climbing into the coach.

    • I believe that the plan was always to carry the bouquet back to Buckingham Palace and then send it back to the Abbey to be put on the tomb later.

      I think it may be something to do with having the flowers for the official photographs.

  14. @Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed – Diana would not have done on the way out after the service as her wedding was at St Paul’s – not the Abbey.

  15. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed says

    That will teach me to accept what Statesonian commentators say, rather than research it myself. The Wiki says that the brides send their bouquet that day after the wedding to the tomb.

    That is right Stewart, Diana’s funeral was help in the Abbey.

  16. Agatha says

    I guess Kelvin, you have never met a bride who was marrying the second in line to the throne. Surely their marriage is all about procreation. Not to say they don’t love each other etc but it is a hereditary monarchy.

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