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Colin Harvey

Suggestions For Choral Wedding Music

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My choir and I were thinking it would be good to have a few standard anthems we can roll out with minimal practice to be sung during the signing of the registers for the fairly frequent weddings we get.

 

I'd like some suggestions on appropriate anthems we could sing. During the summer, numbers get depleted and while sometimes we can muster SATB, we need something that will work well in various guises like SA and SA/Men, with organ accompaniment. The music must also be attractive to the average wedding goer (so read limited or no knowledge or understanding of choral or classical music), easy, enjoyable and safe to sing by an amateur choir but it also needs to be good quality and worthwhile to sing and listen to by the more musically inclined. The sentiment must, obviously, be suitable for a wedding.

 

I've been racking my head for ideas but due to the heat and recent stresses, can't think of anything. Any ideas?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
My choir and I were thinking it would be good to have a few standard anthems we can roll out with minimal practice to be sung during the signing of the registers for the fairly frequent weddings we get.

 

I'd like some suggestions on appropriate anthems we could sing. During the summer, numbers get depleted and while sometimes we can muster SATB, we need something that will work well in various guises like SA and SA/Men, with organ accompaniment. The music must also be attractive to the average wedding goer (so read limited or no knowledge or understanding of choral or classical music), easy, enjoyable and safe to sing by an amateur choir but it also needs to be good quality and worthwhile to sing and listen to by the more musically inclined. The sentiment must, obviously, be suitable for a wedding.

 

I've been racking my head for ideas but due to the heat and recent stresses, can't think of anything. Any ideas?

 

Suggest 1. 4-part unaccompanied version of Brother James Air - McBain arr.Gordon Jacob. There is a good 2-part accompanied version too, both are winners.

2. Psalm 23 (Vicar of Dibley) by Howard Goodall. This one works with only two part voices if necessary. Legal copies are not particularly expensive either (RSCM have them). It also has the advantage that everyone knows it (including 'The Great Unchurched' who usually seems to be present in good numbers these days)!

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Only one to add to the above would be Jesu, joy, which you can get away with in unison quite happily.

 

The arrangement that New College do of Lux aeterna set to Nimrod works quite well in SA or SAB. I don't think it has the word "requiem" in it, only the bit about light perpetual etc etc so wouldn't be too inappropriate from that point of view.

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I'd like some suggestions on appropriate anthems we could sing. During the summer, numbers get depleted and while sometimes we can muster SATB, we need something that will work well in various guises like SA and SA/Men, with organ accompaniment.

Suggest you try the RSCM's Songs for Life series. We rattled through three of the Geoff Weaver pieces this evening and every one would have been suitable for a wedding.

 

As it is, though, almost all of our weddings this year are Wagner on the way in, "a friend will play the piano" for the signing of the registers, and Mendelssohn on the way out. By the end of August I reckon I'll have settled on some fairly inventive harmonies for the Mendelssohn.

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Guest Andrew Butler
Suggest you try the RSCM's Songs for Life series. We rattled through three of the Geoff Weaver pieces this evening and every one would have been suitable for a wedding.

 

As it is, though, almost all of our weddings this year are Wagner on the way in, "a friend will play the piano" for the signing of the registers, and Mendelssohn on the way out. By the end of August I reckon I'll have settled on some fairly inventive harmonies for the Mendelssohn.

 

 

Got one today, coming in to Mendelssohn?! Out to Widor; CD at Signing!

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Only one to add to the above would be Jesu, joy, which you can get away with in unison quite happily.

 

Don’t make them sing “Jesu, joy of mans despairing.” We kicked that one to death when I was a boy treble and I still can’t stand it nearly 30 years later.

 

:blink:

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The arrangement that New College do of Lux aeterna set to Nimrod works quite well in SA or SAB.  I don't think it has the word "requiem" in it, only the bit about light perpetual etc etc so wouldn't be too inappropriate from that point of view.
Yes, the concepts of rest eternal and marriage don't quite fit, do they?

 

It's so long ago since I had a choir that did weddings that I'm having difficulty dredging my memory. As far as I can recall we did mostly "safe" things like Wesley's Lead me Lord, which can work OK irrespective of how many or few turn up on the day. It's hardly very inspiring though. Attwood's Come Holy Ghost is slightly better, so long as your top line's alert at the beginning. Of better quality were the Elgar's and Mozart's Ave verum. Not altogether suitable for weddings, I know, but certainly no less appropriate than the Bach/Gounod or Penis angelicus.

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We rattled through three of the Geoff Weaver pieces this evening and every one would have been suitable for a wedding.

You have my sympathies. I would only inflict Weaver on a couple I particularly despised....

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Oh, I quite like it - his 'What Wondrous Love is This' is rather good. Though at least 50% of the affection I have for it is that it's weaned our lot off a diet of Rutter, Rutter and more Rutter. If I had to play another one of those blasted arpeggios...

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Yes, the concepts of rest eternal and marriage don't quite fit, do they?

 

It's so long ago since I had a choir that did weddings that I'm having difficulty dredging my memory. As far as I can recall we did mostly "safe" things like Wesley's Lead me Lord, which can work OK irrespective of how many or few turn up on the day. It's hardly very inspiring though. Attwood's Come Holy Ghost is slightly better, so long as your top line's alert at the beginning. Of better quality were the Elgar's and Mozart's Ave verum. Not altogether suitable for weddings, I know, but certainly no less appropriate than the Bach/Gounod or Penis angelicus.

 

There's a lot of common sense here.

 

The music at a wedding is not governed by, for example, the same constraints of season that one would have at a liturgical service such as a communion or evensong so to worry about the appropriateness of Elgar, Mozart, Bach /Gounod, Franck or even Schubert's classics is probably getting a bit too serious about it all.

 

 

At the point where anthems are sung, surely its all about rejoicing at being at a marriage service - this music therefore is what the bride and groom like and have chosen for their guests to enjoy. Think back to Royal weddings ...

 

I always enjoy Advent/Christmas season weddings, when you can sing carols - I find them refreshing and surprising in this context and somehow it makes the carols transcend the commercialisation of Christmas.

 

Familiar melodies are good and if you can get in a marriage theme or love all the better, but it isn't essential.

 

When I was a treble we also sang from the list above (including Jesu joy) but my favourite was the treble duet 'love one another' from SS Wesley's Blessed be the God and Father. It's as good as anything, and a nice tune too!

 

other ideas:

 

How Day by day (can be in 1 2 or 3 parts)

Vaughan Williams Come my way (The Call) - it's even in hymn books nowadays (e.g. Common Praise)

 

Then there are various offerings by Rutter or Archer. We might well turn our noses up at them, but the music at weddings isn't for us (musical cognoscenti) - it's for the couple and their guests to enjoy!

 

PS On the subject of the concepts of rest eternal and marriage not fitting, I once heard that a certain Prince's favourite music was the dies irae from Verdi's Requiem and he wanted it at his (first) wedding, but was pursuaded otherwise. How prophetic that would have been.

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There's a lot of common sense here.

 

The music at a wedding is not governed by, for example, the same constraints of season that one would have at a liturgical service such as a communion or evensong so to worry about the appropriateness of Elgar, Mozart, Bach /Gounod, Franck or even Schubert's classics is probably getting a bit too serious about it all.

At the point where anthems are sung, surely its all about rejoicing at being at a marriage service - this music therefore is what the bride and groom like and have chosen for their guests to enjoy. Think back to Royal weddings ...

 

You hit the nail on the head. At the end of the day it's the bribe and grooms choice. You can only offer them advice and guidance. You know the limitations of the choir and can steer them in the right direction, but ultimately they choose.

:lol:

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Thanks for the suggestions. I wanted some ideas that were:

 

1. A bit different - I'm rather sick of Jesu, Joy of man's desparing (which I've had at every wedding this month) or panis angelicus

2. Not by John Rutter. Not that I have anything against his music, it's just a bit ubiquitous and his easy stuff often rather twee - had thought A Garlic Blessing would be a good idea, though.

 

So many thanks - some good ideas. I'll look at the How and Vaughan Williams and poss the Geoff Weaver stuff - thanks for the suggestions.

 

And yes, the music is for the Bride and Groom and their guests. But quite often, they know absolutely nothign about choral music so have no ideas at all - so I need to feed them with ideas from which they can make their choices. It was just as I was doing this, coming up with all the standard ideas, I was just wondering "isn't there something new which hasn't been done to death yet"

 

Although I might resurrect the Wesley "Love one another" bit from Blessed by the God, etc... I still like it, although it does have the potential to become rather nauseous if over used.

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Thanks for the suggestions. ...

 

 

...And yes, the music is for the Bride and Groom and their guests. But quite often, they know absolutely nothign about choral music so have no ideas at all - so I need to feed them with ideas from which they can make their choices. It was just as I was doing this, coming up with all the standard ideas, I was just wondering "isn't there something new which hasn't been done to death yet"

 

Although I might resurrect the Wesley "Love one another" bit from Blessed by the God, etc... I still like it, although it does have the potential to become rather nauseous if over used.

 

Sorry wasn't getting at you about brides and grooms etc, but I thought some of the other contributions were a bit stand-offish about wedding music.

 

One thing about the Wesley - kids love singing it, so rehearsing it is easy!

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crikey - what sort of weddings do you go to??

 

:o

 

It's fingers, they have a life of their own, bad fingers. :D

 

Any general anthem/music could be sung during the signing of the register. Ones I’ve sung include “Ave Maria” (Byrd, Elgar, Mozart), Psalm 23 (set to Crimond), “Jesu Joy” and “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Tchaikovsky). For my own wedding I had “Set me as a seal” by Walton and “Lord for thy tender mercies sake” by Farrant/Hilton. The Walton is quite tricky but the Farrant/Hilton is relatively easy.

 

:D

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Thanks for the suggestions. I wanted some ideas that were:

 

1. A bit different - I'm rather sick of Jesu, Joy of man's desparing (which I've had at every wedding this month) or panis angelicus

2. Not by John Rutter. Not that I have anything against his music, it's just a bit ubiquitous and his easy stuff often rather twee - had thought A Garlic Blessing would be a good idea, though.

 

So many thanks - some good ideas. I'll look at the How and Vaughan Williams and poss the Geoff Weaver stuff - thanks for the suggestions.

 

And yes, the music is for the Bride and Groom and their guests. But quite often, they know absolutely nothign about choral music so have no ideas at all - so I need to feed them with ideas from which they can make their choices. It was just as I was doing this, coming up with all the standard ideas, I was just wondering "isn't there something new which hasn't been done to death yet"

 

Although I might resurrect the Wesley "Love one another" bit from Blessed by the God, etc... I still like it, although it does have the potential to become rather nauseous if over used.

 

I'd forgotten about Malcolm Archer's My song is love unknown. Someone cruelly once said "I can't believe it's not Rutter". It's a good piece and easy for two grade 5-ish sopranos to learn in an hour.

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Guest Lee Blick
... bribe and grooms choice. 

 

Quite an accurate observation IMHO... :D

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