Wedding music amusement
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    I was reading Singing the Liturgy (from the media section of Musica Sacra), written in the 1950s, and in a footnote the author reminds the young adult audience that just because classical music pieces have some religious sentiment does not make them appropriate for use in Church. For example the Wedding March from Lohengrin, or the Wedding March from Midsummer Night's Dream.

    I laughed to realize this is the 1950s equivalent of everyone wanting to use the Leonard Cohen song "Alleluia" at their weddings, along with the Hawaiian guy's version of "Over the Rainbow", which I am assuming must have appeared in a Disney film.

    To my surprise the author also says Schubert's Ave Maria is inappropriate (it is not a musical setting of the actual prayer, and was intended to accompany the recitation (theatrical, I assume) of the poem Lady of the Lake.)

    Anyway, amusing little details.

    Has anyone else been battling the liturgical or para-liturgical use of Cohen's "Alleluia"?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,305
    The song about David's adultery with Bathsheba? Perfect for a modern wedding... (Purple text)
    Thanked by 3Kathy Cantus67 MNadalin
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 255
    LOL. No, but I did have someone ask about a Coldplay song. . . they got away with a piano cover that their uncle played as a postlude.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    There is a treacly "evangelical" version of the Cohen around the interwebs; I was compelled by a grieving son to use it at a non-religious family "funeral service" in a cemetery once. Once. But for a wedding, even secular? P'tooie.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    Schubert's Ave Maria is a setting of a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which occurs within Scott's very long ballad Lady of the Lake. The situation and sentiments of the original have no bearing on marriage. Though the lady ends the poem being given the key to the hero's fetters, he is her father (I think).
  • Matthew
    Posts: 31
    Just this week I was asked to do "that Hallelujah from the movie Shreck." Feigned ignorance as my children are all grown up now.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Thank the Lord I don't do weddings. Hate them and can't stand all the accompanying drama. Not enough money in the world to do them.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    That "Alleluia" began the end of my career as a wedding-singer, which had only begun with that very wedding. I sang one EF wedding a few months later and decided even that was too stressful.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I think that to a too great extent, the notion has been perpetrated that the wedding is the "bride's day" and anything goes that the spoiled little princess wants. Instead, it should be viewed as a liturgy of the Church with rules just as if it were a Sunday mass. The priests need to get on board with this, as well.
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    I recently sang and my husband was my guitar accompanist for my niece's wedding. She was a recent convert to the Catholic Faith and her selections were very appropriate given that the church did not even have an organ. I thought "God in the Planning and Purpose of Life" to the tune SLANE was very appropriate. She made the selections herself, got approval from the celebrant, and while she was hoping for more congregational singing, it went well. I was so relieved when it was over since we really wanted to do our best for the bridal couple. I am sure many of you would not have approved, but all the selections were appropriate for their liturgical placement and they all were proper hymns.

    There is a horrible phenomenon afoot wherein the bride is "Bridezilla" and the wedding guests are treated more like "props" or underlings than like guests.

    I must confess that I did have "Here Comes the Bride" and "There Goes the Bride" LOL when I was married 31 years ago. We were traditional for what we knew at the time.
  • In my experience the odious bride-and-bride's-mother syndrome has been a relatively small percentage of the total of weddings I have played for. Having a parish customary (and a conscientious priest!) which sets standards for weddings is very helpful. Charles is definitely right, though, about the absurd emphasis on the bride, as if the groom, if mentioned at all, were an afterthought, a sort of unfortunately-necessary add-on. His chances of being demeaned and 'put in his place' at the reception are excellent. That this is feminism run amok should be apparent to all - it is not amusing, it is sick - it should be deeply frowned upon and not allowed.

    I recently interviewed a couple for their May wedding at St Basil's Chapel, UST. They were most respectful and didn't question any of my offerings, nor did they have any 'requests'. Here is the music for their wedding -

    Music Before Mass
    1. From Gloria of the Messe pour les couvents - - - F. Couperin
    a. Plein jeu, b. Chromorne sur la taille, c. Basse de trompette

    2. Organ chorale - Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott (BuxWV 199) - - - D. Buxtehude

    3. Praeludium, in G-Major (BWV 541) - - - J.S. Bach

    4. Voluntary, No. 1, in D-Major - - - Wllm. Boyce

    5. Toccata, in C-Major - - - C. Seixas

    6. Meditation on Down Ampney - - - Improvisation

    Music at Mass
    At the Procession - The Prince of Denmark's March - - - J. Clarke

    At the Offertory - Fantasia on Veni, Creator Spiritus - - - Improvisation

    At the Communion - Meditation on Picardy - - - Improvisation

    At the Dismissal - Psalm XVIII, 'The Heavens Declare the Glory of God' - - - B. Marcello

    I suppose this is 'off topic', it not being amusing. It is, though, pleasurable, and representative of a large majority of my weddings.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 832
    I've been very fortunate in the majority of the weddings. We have standards and we apply them... but we also try to have a fairly wide degree of options. Did have one groom request a Latin piece I had never heard of. In researching, I discovered that it was a completely inappropriate piece that was popularized either through some online game or a TV series (perhaps both).

    On the flip side, I am frequently edified by some of the music choices. Some couples have introduced me to beautiful chants or polyphonic pieces with which I was previously unfamiliar; others have incorporated really subtle nuances that are very reflective of what I tend to believe will be the experience of their married life.

    Last year, I had a couple who had a very beautiful selection of hymns and motets for an ad orientem NO wedding... one which culminated not simply with a visit to OL altar by the bride, but to both the OL and the St. Joseph altar by the married couple before the recessional. I've been mentioning this as an option in other weddings, and find a number of couples who dedicate the beginning of their married life to the hands of Joseph and Mary in this way.

    Coming up in August, a couple rather took me by surprise... They requested the chanted Angelus at noon leading into the bridal processions. Their complete program:
    • Bach Air in G - trumpet / organ
    • If Ye Love Me (Tallis)
    • possible O Sanctissima (Allen)
    • Angelus at noon (chant)
    • Pachelbel Canon in D (bridesmaids)
    • Charpentier prelude of Te Deum - trumpet / organ (bride)

    • Missa Brevis (Palestrina)
    • Propers (full tone)
    • Ave Maria (Victoria) - Offertory
    • Sicut Cervus (Palestrina) - Communion
    • Ave Verum (Mozart) - Communion
    • possible Desidero Mi Iesu (Allen) - Communion

    • Salve Regina (Solemn Tone) - visit to OL altar
    • Clarke Trumpet Voluntary - trumpet / organ (recessional)
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    Have had to contend with the Cohen Hallelujah. This past weekend.

    Actual emails:
    Her: Dear [Gamba],

    I hope you are well. We are working on finalizing the details of our mass and music selection. We will be having a "no mass", however if we decide to have a cantor, I'm wondering if that cantor is able to sing "hallelujah". I don't see it as an option, however it is one of our favorite songs. If not, no problem we will submit the form without cantor ASAP.

    Thank you.

    Dear [Bride],

    I'm not certain which "Hallelujah" you mean – the song by Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley/whomever else has covered it? Or the acclamation before the Gospel usually sung at Mass? Or something else? Let me know.

    If it's "I heard there was a secret chord...", then that cannot be sung in church. I too find it to be a beautiful composition, but the lyrics, telling the story of King David's misery and bondage after his adulterous pursuit of the woman he sees bathing on the roof, are simply not appropriate in a celebration of the Sacrament of matrimony.

    Thank you, and have a good weekend.

    Good point. Let me clarify... what about on the organ without the words?

    Again, I have to decline. I can't play a melody everyone knows goes with inappropriate words; the same problem of discord between music and the message of the ceremony would exist. Additionally, a song written for guitar and voice does not convert well to an organ solo.

    Could you play it at your reception?

    Of course...understood. I guess I never realized how provocative the lyrics were until now. We will choose from what is listed.

    Thank you for your help.

    1) Next time, google the words first.
    2) Next time, read the **** guidelines I send.
    3) You want a special hallelujah, whaddya think I suggested “Alleluia: Mittat vobis” for, before the gospel?
  • I don't know, Gamba.

    Among properly catechized Catholics, the question of using this song would never come up, but we don't live in an age of properly catechized Catholics. I think her responses, as you print them here, show a maturity of attitude which is refreshing among those who encounter what is sometimes called Bridezilla. You declined, and explained why, and she graciously accepted. May her tribe increase.
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    I completely agree with Chris G-Z!
    I think any couple who choose to marry in the church should be respected and guided to make good choices. My niece said that music was not even discussed during the pre-Cana instruction weekend and they did not receive the usual booklet with readings etc. for planning the Sacrament of Matrimony.

    I googled the Cohen "Alleluia" lyrics. It does begin with David and Bathsheba, but I see the whole song as being about God's redemption. I see Cohen as saying we are all sinners and sometimes Alleluia can be a prayer of supplication and sometimes it can be a triumphant shout of affirmation of God's greatness. I don't think it is appropriate for church, but it is an interesting song. A priest I knew as a teenager, would sometimes use popular song lyrics as a "hook" for CCD Masses. This song could be used by the right priest in the right circumstances, in my opinion. It does also show in a blatant way how composition tricks can evoke emotion, don't you think? That's why people respond to it.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    we don't live in an age of properly catechized Catholics

    Please refresh my memory, Chris- which historical era was burgeoning with "properly catechized Catholics?
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 394
    Has anyone else been battling the liturgical or para-liturgical use of Cohen's "Alleluia"?

    We had a deacon who would do a lyrical re-write of the song and get up to the pulpit with his 12 string electric-acoustic guitar and lead the congregation in a singalong of it (and other songs he wrote) during his homily.
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    I suppose that could be effective, IF it was well written and well performed. I am not a fan of electric/acoustic guitars and a 12 string is very hard to keep in proper tune. Sounds more likely to be a miss than a hit. Also, trivializes preaching? Clergy on this site could speak to that better than I.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Has anyone else been battling the liturgical or para-liturgical use of Cohen's "Alleluia"?

    Never heard of it until now.

    Please refresh my memory, Chris- which historical era was burgeoning with "properly catechized Catholics?

    There was never such an era. This will likely upset the trads but if Catholics had been properly catechized even the liturgical changes that originated from Trent would never have happened. But then, we have a tendency in the east to run revisionist prelates out of town on a rail during the night. The west calls them enlightened and falls at their feet.

  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    How far east are we talking about, Charles? East of the Atlantic or east of the Mississippi?
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    East of the western Roman empire in the 6 of the 7 churches that remained true to their liturgies and traditions.

    BTW, a great read if you are interested in what brought the Roman Empire down.

    "The Fate of Rome" by Kyle Harper. In it, he notes how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors and barbarians, but by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability and plagues. "He describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a "little ice age" and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague."

    Big book, long read time. I am half-way through and am fascinated. It deals with the secular and doesn't touch on religion.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    "East of the western Roman empire in the 6 of the 7 churches that remained true to their liturgies and traditions."

    Which, it should be remembered, became easier as those churches became smaller (eventually dramatically so) over the centuries...rumps by their nature become distilled (this, btw, was also true of the One, Holy, Roman and Apostolic Church(TM) in its one long era of contraction).
  • Despite having a very sophisticated elite, fine literature, splendid architecture, admirable schools of rhetoric and learning, and more, the entertainment of most Romans of all classes was the circus, in which meticulously trained fighters slaughtered one another in as gory a fashion as possible, man and beast tore each other apart, and much blood and gore were on display in mock battles. Everyone from the sophisticated elite and the emperor on down had his and her favourite gladiators and favoured form of butchery. The Romans must not have been very nice people. Further, one can only wonder what our own populace would do for entertainment if their thirst for violence and gore were not satisfied by television and cinema.
    Thanked by 3CharlesW Carol CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    btw, was also true of the One, Holy, Roman and Apostolic Church(TM) in its one long era of contraction).

    Really, it is a wonder ANY of the churches survived, given the conditions over time.

    The Romans must not have been very nice people.

    They were not, but I think Christianity moderated some of their brutality.

    Which, it should be remembered, became easier as those churches became smaller (eventually dramatically so) over the centuries

    I would think 300 million Orthodox in the world today is nothing to sneeze at.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,606
    Among properly catechized Catholics

    All 9 of them worldwide?

    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    "The Romans must not have been very nice people."

    Well, nice is relative. Nice in that context would be having both edges of the sword sharpened freshly before use.

    Romans' learned wariness of charisma in those who held public office helped to balance the fact that Roman religion was deeply superstitious in a way that is rarely conveyed in modern depictions of ancient Romans (though HBO's Rome made a reasonably accessible stab at it, pun intended for those who savored the totally a-historical scenes of Servilia and Atia, neither of whom were (according to such historical records as we have) anything like the fictional characters depicted in the series).
  • And a vestige of the Roman circus and its cruelties lives on in the Spanish bull ring. It also lives on in the cock fights and baited dog fights that I've heard about being a commonplace in back-woods America. It is the same savage mentality.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    All 9 of them worldwide?

    That is the number of actually-Catholic Jesuits.

    There are more properly catechized Catholics, but the number is not available through Google.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    cock fights and baited dog fights

    Not restricted to backwoods, my friend. Michael Vick, NFL quarterback, spent time in prison for dog-fighting. Lots of cock-fighting in urban hispanic areas.
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,080
    >>> a vestige of the Roman circus and its cruelties lives on in [....] It is the same savage mentality.

    Let us not forget the American party primary system,
    which annually leaves its bleeding multitudes ...
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Well, the Leonard Cohen "alleluia" has now reached the nearest parish, where it is used for the Gospel acclamation. I am really just out of OF options at this point, despite having over 8 churches and chapels within walking distance of my house. Thankful to have the EF on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, even though it is far! But I would so love to have a parish I could just walk to for evening Mass on a Wednesday evening, or drop in for Confession and Adoration, and not have anything heretical or offensive happen. It is not to be. I'll keep up my devotions at home during the week.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Pray for vocations in your diocese.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • East of the western Roman empire in the 6 of the 7 churches that remained true to their liturgies and traditions.

    Hey now, that Archbishop of Constantinople -- what's his name, again? -- John Chrysostom, I think. He made some pretty radical changes to the Liturgy, too!
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 207
    Wow!!!! Just wow!!!! We have such a long way to go if this is what most of the brides want. I actually pushed away one woman because she insisted on particular pieces and I mentioned to her that we not only audition musicians (unless they play with the local high quality orchestra) and will require not just a 'list" of music but also sheet music for materials that are unfamiliar.

    I also had a bride FURIOUS with me because I sang the Gregorian Ave Maria instead of the one that she wanted. I figured it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. I do that a lot, some people are surprised by the music I choose and some actually like it better. We had a wedding here a few months ago that asked for "ave maria" at the placing of the flowers so I had the choir sing the Palestrina 5 part Ave. The bride said that it wasn't what she wanted but what we did was "way better".

  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,473
    I never quite understand why it is important to understand the pre-liturgical history of a particular piece of music in order to decide whether it is suitable for the liturgy. Honestly, every other tune in the hymnal is from folk or secular sources...some of the greatest masses of Palestina, Victoria et al infinitum are based of secular motets that had erotic texts. Do we really need to have an exhaustive historical research into every tune that we use?
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,473
    And many of the tunes such and the Bach Air in G, pretty much every wedding postlude was never intended for a liturgical celebration...
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Agree totally, ghmus7.

    If you have to explain to someone why the Coen Hallelujah is inappropriate - then obviously THEY don't associate it with a secular song. I'm willing to bet that 95% of the population genuinely believe that it is a song praising God, because all they can remember is "Hallelujah, I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord". So this isn't actually a piece that I'd bother using my limited fight-for-appropriate-liturgical-music energy on. At least not while I'm in a parish where most people see singing the Ordinary as optional anyways.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    So this isn't actually a piece that I'd bother using my limited fight-for-appropriate-liturgical-music energy on.

    But doesn't not fighting it put you in one of three awkward situations?

    1) Using the refrain for a gospel acclamation, and somehow shoehorning a verse in to a fourth-mode psalm-tone and the whole thing sounding silly and quite sad?
    2) Risking severe fines from BMI/ASCAP from singing one of the Christianized versions which were never okayed by Leonard Cohen or his estate?
    3) Singing "You saw her bathing on the roof / Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya / She tied you to her kitchen chair / And she broke your throne and she cut your hair" in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord, your employer, and whatever other people in attendance understand English?

    As I said above; getting rid of it is as easy as sending this link to a bridezilla.
    Thanked by 2chonak CatherineS
  • Is there a general ranking of "hills to die on"? It's true there are worse things than Cohen's Hallelujah at Mass. Priests who sit down and let extraordinary ministers distribute Communion, mind-numbingly-loud rock music, mind-numbingly-loud readings, out of tune guitars and flutes, liturgical dances of any kind, and sermons or advice in Confession undermining Catholic dogma...these come to mind.

    Gamba, I'm far more terrified by scenario #3 than by #1 or #2. #3 has permanent repercussions.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    #3 is the appropriate time to be suddenly inspired to sing an "Aaah/Ooo" verse instead of mere words because you're just so moved in the moment by the sublimity of the pure music. Offering true artistry to the couple. Like Bach improvising. [Also takes care of #2]
    Thanked by 1CatherineS