Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wedding season and hymns

May and June are going to be busy months at Bethany for weddings, which means a busy few weeks for me. By the time you consider all of the prelude and postlude music, most weddings involve almost as much organ music as a month of Sunday services.

This weekend's wedding featured two things I found notable. First, there was a congregational hymn. Too many weddings have shied away from direct musical participation, but I think it's a vital part of the service. A wedding congregation is not an audience; they are still part of a worship service as well as witnesses to the marriage ceremony. They make a promise to support the couple and welcome them into the community. A congregational hymn can express that collective attitude musically.

Second, Pastor Uhle's sermon referred not only to the Gospel text but also to the text of a hymn. He made explicit reference to the hymn "Abide with us, Our Savior," as it related to the readings and to his message for the couple. For me, that direct quotation of a 16th century hymn demonstrated to what degree our faith reveres our musical heritage as a source of knowledge and inspiration.

When so much wedding music is either "background music" or a familiar tune chosen from a perennial list of a few favorites, it was great to have these two examples of music serving a higher function in today's wedding service.

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