I have noticed that sometimes newly engaged couples can be put off by the idea of getting married in a church because it can be portrayed as stuffy or strict/uncompromising, however, as a church musician and cantor for over 20 years I’m hoping to show that there are more options for church music than most people realise!
My background is an eclectic one… I have sung with Opera Ireland, as a solo recitalist in the NCH and I’ve also sung, toured and recorded with Irish music sensations Anúna and Celtic Woman and finally – I’ve sung in concert with Liam Lawton (composer of beautiful liturgical pieces The cloud’s veil and firm wedding favourite Hiding Place to name a few). In recent years, through my group Voices of Erin, I’ve forrayed into the Classical Crossover sphere, singing soprano duos and arrangements of pieces such as “Nella Fantasia”, Diana Ross; “When you tell me that you love me” and the beautiful Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocceli favourite “The Prayer”.
While it is true that music in the church setting may be slightly more limited than in the civil ceremony- there is an abundance of beautiful music to choose from, incorporating all the styles above and instrumentals also which add a reflective quality to the ceremony.
In terms of music choices, the “strictness” can depend from priest to priest but the general rule is that the entrance piece (or all important “walk down the aisle”) and the 1 st candle ceremony can be lighter in style or non-liturgical, as can the signing of the register and the recessional piece. Anything outside of those is considered part of the “mass” itself so this is where generally the restrictions come in to play.
As far as sacred music goes, there is any number of beautiful pieces out there; from settings of the Ave Maria, Pie Jesu, Panis Angelicus and hymns such as Here I am lord, Amazing Grace and Ag Chriost an siol to the aforementioned psalms of Liam Lawton, Hiding Place (or Mo gra thu if you want it as gaelige!). Mostly there is also never really a restriction on classical instrumental pieces and I have played everything from Braveheart’s theme to Gabriel’s oboe to Bach and Mozart on the flute at weddings (yes I play the flute too!) without any problems! In saying all of this, it is always worth having a conversation with your priest and seeing what they think.
At past weddings I have sung O mio babbino caro and you raise me up at the communion and at others, nothing but Ave Maria will do! All beautiful pieces to have on your special day!
So, enjoy planning your church ceremony and all the beautiful music which will enrich your day and always feel free to consult your priest and musicians and between you all, you will have your perfect program!
In music! Catrina