The wedding hymn crisis: avoiding "all things bright and beautiful"

Wedding Season brings inward groans, as we struggle through another rendition of a hymn only vaguely remembered from Infant School: “all things”, “sing hosanna” or “give me joy”, which frankly gives me no joy at all. These are fine school hymns, rendered meaningless by overuse. If couples are worried that “no one will know the hymns” then they should choose hymns with meaningful words to well-known tunes: I recall one priest in Sussex who employed Christmas Carol tunes all year round.

Here are a few which I currently recommend to those who come with no idea what they want sung at their wedding:

To the tune of “Jerusalem”

We gather here, we gather now,
drawn by the love we know and share.
We come to celebrate in our joy
the union of this special pair.
To them our hearts reach out with love,
on them the light of heav’n above
shines down in grace abundant and free
to bless them both eternally.

And we who join to wish them well,
offer them both our love and pray’r
that they may walk in fullness of life
the journey they have come to share.
That they may know if storms come near
that they have friends and fam’ly here
for we commit ourselves to pray
and love and cherish them each day.

Susan Sayers (born 1946)

Tune: “Jerusalem (Parry)”

To the tune of “Lord of the Dance”

We come together to witness love
These two people joined by Above
We see in them a spring of care
Spreading wide, both here and there

Love then, however it may be
Love will defeat the enemy
Marriage shows when two people care
The love of God is always there.

We wish them joy throughout the years
Ups and downs,  joy and tears
Support each other
Through both sickness and health
Good times,  bad times,  poverty and wealth

Love then, however it may be
Love will defeat the enemy
Marriage shows when two people care
The love of God is always there.

Marriage is a journey which you now both share
Marriage is a mystery
which leads you God knows where
But with God in your union you’ll do no wrong
Reflect his love and it will be strong

Love then, however it may be
Love will defeat the enemy
Marriage shows when two people care
The love of God is always there.

To the tune of “I vow to thee my country”

These vows of love are taken, as rings of love received,
we witness here among us a mystery believed:
that in God’s holy presence a union has begun
and these your precious children have now become as one.
For the things of earth and heaven draw closer as we pray,
and in heav’n the angels celebrate with us on earth today.

For all our many blessings we offer thanks and praise,
for gifts of love and fellowship our thankful hearts we raise.
God’s hand has held us safely and brought us to this day,
God has guided and protected and taught us on the way.
For the love we learn on earth is the love we’ll find in heav’n
and the human love we celebrate is love that God has giv’n.

Susan Sayers (born 1946)

Tune: “Thaxted”

To the tune of “Morning has broken”

God of all living,
Father, we praise you,
Full of Thanksgiving,
For so much love;
Now in this wedding,
Come down among us,
Pour out your blessing,
Heavenly dove.

With love’s true slendour,
Father, delight us,
Each giving hourour,
With faithfulness;
And may the sharing,
Of this sweet union
Deepen our caring,
With tenderness.

May there be children,
Fruit of our loving,
True men and women,
With faith beside;
Grant us your keeping
In all our future,
Your love caressing
Bridegroom and bride.

Canon Michael Walker

To the tune of “Lord of all hopefulness” or “Be thou my vision”

God, in the planning and purpose of life,
hallowed the union of husband and wife:
this we embody where love is displayed,
rings are presented and promises made.

Jesus was found, at a similar feast,
taking the roles of both waiter and priest,
turning the worldly towards the divine,
tears into laughter and water to wine.

Therefore we pray that his spirit preside
over the wedding of bridegroom and bride,
fulfilling all that they’ve hoped will come true
lighting with love all they dream of and do.

Praise then the Maker, the Spirit, the Son,
source of the love through which two are made one.
God’s is the glory, the goodness and grace
seen in this marriage and known in this place.

John L Bell (born 1949) and Graham Maule (born 1958)

Tune: Slane