Tuesday 29 November 2011

Traditional Wedding 1

 This post is in answer to Ben Trovato, who asked this about 'Traditional Weddings': I would be fascinated to know in a little more detail how the traditional rite of marriage differs from the modern form: could you highlight some key differences or point me in the right direction to find out? I would be most grateful.

When I was ordained in 1959, all weddings were 'traditional', that is, performed according to the rite of the Latin Church which had been in use in England for a very long time.  The promises of bride and groom were allowed to be in English, but the prayers of blessing were in Latin.  Among the promise they each made to the other was the phrase "With my body I thee worship" and "This gold and silver I thee give". (Depending upon the status and wealth of the couple, this could mean a gold sovereign or a silver threepenny bit - I seem to remember that sometimes a priest would hang on to this gold or silver). The ceremony was very short - there was no sermon, no hymns, no organ playing.  And in 1959 there were still some priests who married mixed religion couples in the porch of the church.
After the religious ceremony, the couple, priest and witnesses, went into the sacristy where the Registrar of Marriages was waiting, for the civil ceremony.  I was always allowed to lead the bride and groom through this part of the proceedings.  After this we all signed the Marriage Register, and the couple departed.
The whole ceremony took only a very short length of time.  So short in fact that on one occasion when the parish priest and I were asked to conduct four weddings on the same afternoon, my PP decided to do them at fifteen minute intervals. As a long time parish priest, he should have known better - when the first bride turned up fifteen minutes late, the whole afternoon was thrown into utter confusion!
And, of course, sometimes (as now) the wedding was followed by the Nuptial Mass when both bride and groom were practicing Catholics. But more about that and the differences in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. Father, at first I thought the time of the service is too short, but thinking about it, Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession, Ordination etc.. are all very short if you look at the rituals! Paul (ryhope)