“The focus of the wedding liturgy, like every other liturgical celebration, is the worship of God. Music, which is an integral element of the celebrations of Christian marriage, enables those who assemble to express their faith, to enter into the worship of God, and to give thanks for the mystery of divine love that is revealed in the union of husband and wife.”
A Companion to the Catholic Book of Worship III: Guidelines for Liturgical Music, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 105.
Music for the wedding liturgy differs from secular wedding music in that it does not merely provide a background or mood for the occasion, but expresses the common prayer of those assembled. The most important musical elements in the wedding liturgy are the responsorial psalm and, in the nuptial Mass, the other communal acclamations (“parts of the Mass”) led by the cantor or choir and accompanied by organ.
Popular songs and secular pieces, while they may be very appropriate for a wedding reception, are not permitted in the wedding liturgy. Similarly, certain works such as Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, which are traditionally associated with weddings, are not used in the Catholic wedding liturgy because of their strong secular associations.
The Director of Music & Principal Organist is responsible for assisting you in choosing appropriate music and musicians for your wedding, working to ensure that the music is of high quality, and enhancing the prayerfulness, joy, and dignity of your celebration of the sacrament of marriage.
ELEMENTS OF THE WEDDING LITURGY
Prelude music is customary in the 10-15 minutes before the wedding liturgy begins to welcome the assembly and set an appropriately prayerful and joyful tone. Preludes may be for solo voice or for choir. If they are instrumental, they are usually left to the discretion of the organist or other musicians.
The cantor may sing a solo, such as:
Alternatively, the choir may sing:
The processional represents the gathering of the whole community and the procession of the ministers of the sacrament, i.e., the bride and groom. As such, only one continuous processional piece is permitted; no one person is highlighted by the processional music. In the absence of an opening hymn, an instrumental piece may be chosen.
The processional can be either a hymn sung by the assembly or an organ/instrumental piece. The mood of the processional may be stately or meditative; both are equally appropriate.
Examples of Processional Hymns:
(A cantor/choir is recommended to lead the singing. Numbers refer to Catholic Book of Worship).
Examples of Instrumental Processionals:
Gloria in excelsis Deo (Nuptial Mass)
This hymn of praise to God is only included when the Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated as part of the rite.
The Psalm follows the first reading and is sung by the cantor, with responses sung by the assembly. (Note: please follow wording as given in music.)
Outside of Lent, this consists of an “Alleluia” response, led by the cantor, and a scriptural verse chosen from the three options below.
Hymn or Canticle of Praise (optional)
This follows the Rite of Marriage. The couple may select a hymn expressing gratitude for the gift of married love that invites the participation of the entire community. The following hymn options may be sung. However, the couple is not required to select a hymn. If no hymn is selected, this part is omitted.
Presentation of the Gifts (Nuptial Mass)
The presentation of the gifts, if it takes place, is generally very brief and calls for brief, often improvised music.
Eucharistic Acclamations (Nuptial Mass)
These parts (including the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Amen, and Agnus Dei) are normally to be sung by the whole assembly, led by a cantor/choir. The Lord’s Prayer is generally not sung.
Communion (Nuptial Mass)
A hymn to accompany communion can be sung by cantor and assembly, such as:
Alternatively, the cantor may sing an appropriate solo repertoire piece, such as:
The choir could otherwise provide its own Eucharistic offering. Choral pieces listed under “Preludes” may also be used here:
An instrumental piece, or organ transcription thereof, may also be used: