Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Wedding Music Guidelines Rex Rund, Director of Music & Liturgy: 317-663-4007 (office); 317-645-8203 (cell) [email protected]
Lauren March, Assistant to the Director: [email protected]
Alan Jordan, Staff Organist: 317-782-1276 (home); 317-459-2264 (cell) [email protected]
INTRODUCTION Overall principles to remember in considering your wedding music: 1. In the Roman Catholic Nuptial Liturgy, every effort should be made to involve the Assembly in “full, conscious, and active participation” in the Liturgy, including elements of the music. The model for a good wedding liturgy is the parish Sunday liturgy; your wedding should “look like” the Sunday Mass, the very highest form of Catholic prayer. 2. The text of the music chosen should ideally speak of the love between husband and wife as a reflection of God’s love for us, his Church. Secular love songs may not be used in the liturgy. 3. A wedding liturgy is not a “wedding with concert attached.” The music selection and the musicians must be servants of the liturgy, not the other way around. 4. In Roman Catholic Liturgy, we worship together, here and now. Therefore, the Church does not allow recordings, taped music, CD’s, or accompaniment tracks in the Liturgy. 5. Our parish policy calls for at least one of the musicians present for a wedding to be one of our regular parish ministers of music. These musicians a prepared to act as actual ministers of music, not just “soloists.” They also know the workings of the sound reinforcement system and can operate it properly to avoid audio problems. In the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy recommends that the music used in all types of worship be evaluated on three levels: liturgical, pastoral, and musical. First of all, does the music respect the nature of the liturgy itself with the participants assuming different roles in the various levels of communal prayer? Secondly, does the music help the particular people involved to express their faith in their particular place, age, and culture? Finally, is the music technically, aesthetically, and expressively of high quality? In most sung parts of the Mass, all present should ideally take part. Obviously, the circumstances at most weddings do not permit congregational singing to the same extent as at a normal Sunday liturgy. But, given a good organist or pianist and a cantor or ensemble able to sing verses alternating with congregational refrains, there are many realistic possibilities. There are also many hymns that are common to most Christian denominations. These can be especially useful for celebrations at which many non-Catholics are present. Our parish resources include several examples of well-known hymn tunes with new texts written specifically for weddings. Created on 01/23/16 -1-
A chronological listing of the music for the wedding is listed below. N.B. Items marked with an asterisk (*) apply only when the Eucharist (Mass) is celebrated.
LITURGICAL RESPONSES, ACCLAMATIONS, and SONGS These include those sung parts of the worship in which all present should ideally take part. Obviously, the circumstances at most weddings do not permit congregational singing to the same extent as at a normal Sunday liturgy. But, given a good organist, pianist, or guitarist, as well as a cantor or ensemble able to sing verses alternating with congregational refrains, there are many realistic possibilities. The Ordinary of the Mass* (Glory to God, Holy, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, Lamb of God) is integral to the celebration of the Mass. These pieces should, as a rule, be sung, and the congregation should be encouraged to sing along. Since the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal in 2011, no one musical setting of the Ordinary has emerged as a universally known setting. Many couples choose to have these parts chanted in Latin Gregorian Chant (or the corresponding English version), since this is the one musical setting that, in theory, every Catholic in the United States should know and be able to sing. Other possible settings are Mass of Wisdom by Steven Janco and Mass of Renewal by Curtis Stephan. All of these can be heard online, if you’d like to hear a sample. See the “worksheet” links from the OLMC wedding music web page for direct links to recordings. There are also many hymns that are common to most Christian denominations. These can be especially useful for celebrations at which many non-Catholics are present. Our Journeysongs hymnal has several examples of widely-known hymn tunes with good texts for weddings (e.g. Journeysongs #575 – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You; Journeysongs #542 – God, Who Created Hearts to Love; Journeysongs #539 – Hear Us Now, Our God and Father; Journeysongs #543 – When Love Is Found) If the wedding is not celebrated in the context of Mass, there is the option of using an Entrance Song, which is very useful to create an atmosphere for celebration and to help people to become conscious of themselves as a worshiping community. Given the arrangement at most weddings, it might be best to accompany the actual procession with instrumental music and then begin the song itself when all have arrived at their places. A widely known Entrance Song is especially effective in making non-Catholics feel welcome and comfortable in for what is many an unfamiliar setting. The Responsorial Psalm should be sung by the cantor and congregation, with the cantor singing the verses and the congregation joining in the refrain. The approved psalms for weddings (Ps. 33, 34, 103, 112, 128, 145, and 148) are included in the plan book (Together for Life, section C) you receive to choose your Scripture readings. You should choose your psalm based on the text, and then your musician will be able to help you choose a musical setting of this Psalm. The Gospel Acclamation (Alleluia), prepares the congregation to hear the Word of God proclaimed in the Gospel reading. After the cantor or choir sings the alleluia, the assembly repeats. Then a verse is sung by the cantor, and all repeat the alleluia a second time. In the absence of a cantor, the priest could intone the alleluia (with or without accompaniment) and chant or read the verse.
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A Communion Song*, sung during and/or following the distribution of communion, is meant to express the oneness of the couple and the Assembly in the Eucharistic Lord. If sung during communion, a short, easy-to-sing refrain works best for the congregation to sing, with the cantor or ensemble singing the verses. Other prayers and responses that are usually recited at weddings, but may be sung, include the General Intercessions and the Lord’s Prayer (but this must be sung by everyone, not just the cantor).
SUPPLEMENTARY SONGS This category includes songs for which there are neither specified texts nor any requirement that there should be a spoken or sung text. Examples include the Preparation of the Gifts* and the recessional. Here, an ensemble or soloist may play a fuller role, for there is no question of usurping the parts that belong to the whole assembly. However, these songs must still emphasize and enhance that part of the ceremony where they occur and not simply be “show pieces.” They should help the community participate in the liturgical action and prayer. The music must be suitable for use in a sacred liturgical service whose primary concern is the worship of God. The lyrics of the songs should be drawn chiefly from Sacred Scripture and other liturgical sources and should express the Christian concept of love. They should ideally reflect that the love between two married persons is a reflection of God’s love for us, his church.
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC Instrumental music performed on the organ or other instruments can provide suitable accompaniment during certain parts of the service, including the processional and recessional. Instrumental selections can also be used during the Preparation of the Gifts*. In most cases, pieces written specifically for the instrument will sound best. However, if instrumental transcriptions of vocal pieces are used, the criteria for choosing supplementary songs should be applied. Often, the addition of one or more supplementary instruments (trumpet, violin, cello, flute, oboe, etc.) can add a great deal to the music. We have a pool of talented musicians who are available to play and sing for weddings – the music director can help you choose and will communicate with the instrumentalists. In terms of budget, it is best to plan for $100150 per musician as a rule of thumb. The standard organist stipend is $150.
USING POPULAR MUSIC The Nuptial Liturgy is a sacred, sacramental rite of the church, and only sacred music has a place within the wedding liturgy. That said, just because a particular piece of music happens to be “popular” does not automatically make it unsuitable for use as a supplementary song before the wedding liturgy. However, couples must be challenged to honestly ask the question, “Will this song help us and the rest of the assembly to lift up our hearts in prayer?”
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Our parish policy on the use of such music is as follows: While the songs themselves ought to be as musically attractive as possible, it is the text that matters most. Each and every text ought to be identifiable as prayer. If it cannot, then it has no place in a liturgical context. Thus, a song which highlights the Christian dimension of human love always deserves priority: • • •
A song which speaks directly of the divine, sacramental dimension of love is most suitable at a Christian marriage; A song which does not speak directly of the divine dimension of love, but which implies it, is suitable at a Christian marriage. A song which ignores or negates either explicitly or implicitly the divine dimension of love is unsuitable at a Christian marriage.
The music director of the parish, in cooperation with the bride and groom, will have to decide whether the text of the piece is appropriate. He can help a couple evaluate whether the texts of the songs they are considering reflect the faith of the Church. The bride and groom must consider, “Can you pray these words? Will the community gathered together understand the meaning you are trying to express?” A popular song that does not meet the above criteria is much more appropriate at the wedding reception than at the liturgy itself, even when used as a prelude.
PRE-RECORDED MUSIC There are many examples of pre-recorded music which are beautifully arranged as well as tastefully and reverently performed. This music includes songs with vocal and accompaniment tracks, as well as instrumental accompaniments which presuppose a “live” singer to supply the vocal line. While these vocal and instrumental arrangements may be prayerful and pleasing in the musical and textual expression, they diminish the importance we as Catholic Christians place on “living” faith and liturgy. Liturgy is done by living participants present in the moment, praying and worshiping together. Even though having only live musicians singing and playing at the liturgy may sound simpler and less “produced” than a recorded performance, they are part of the liturgy we as Catholic Christians make together. Therefore, except for extraordinary circumstances, recorded music is not permitted in the liturgy of the Church.
CONCLUSION We want to work with you to make the music for your marriage liturgy as powerful, prayerful, and meaningful as possible. Please call the parish office to set up an initial appointment to discuss your wedding music plans and begin the process of preparing. May God bless you as you prepare for your life together in Christ in the Sacrament of Marriage!
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