As I’m working on new hymns for perhaps a second wedding hymns album, I’m attempting to include more of the most loved wedding hymns. I have good friends from many faith traditions, and between conversations with them, other churches we have attended, and my own research, I am slowly broadening the scope of hymns that are included on our website.
I had not heard The King Of Love My Shepherd Is until researching for our website – but I’m thrilled to have found such a wonderful wedding song for inclusion here. And since my background is not Catholic or Orthodox, I wasn’t familiar with the hymn/song Panis Angelicus - but have recently recorded an orchestral version – a serene, classical style number whose words were penned by St. Thomas Aquinas more than 500 years ago. We have a number of friends that are Lutheran, and so have experienced the liturgy and use of hymns in their churches, and I have been surprised at how few I have recognized in some of their hymnals.
I enjoy not only the heritage of hymns from my protestant upbringing, but also much of the religious music of the Catholic, Orthodox, and some of the more ‘high church’ music from certain protestant denominations, though sadly that music is disappearing from many churches that would have thought it impossible 20 years ago. From my personal experience, I find a good choir singing a great song about as good as it gets in a worship setting.
We have made numerous mission trips to Ukraine – my wife has probably been there 40 times, and my daughter Elizabeth has called Ukraine her home for about 4 years, working with older orphan kids – and so have had some exposure to the Orthodox churches and their musical expression in Ukraine – whether of the Kiev Patriarchate or the Moscow, which together comprise the vast majority of Orthodox churches in the birth country of my adopted son Luke.
As I have researched to find the favorite hymns from these various traditions, in some cases I have found more areas of commonality than I might have expected. For example, below is a list of 10 of the most popular and loved Anglican hymns (not a list of wedding hymns), many of which are quite familiar:
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- All Praise To Thee My God This Night
- Abide With Me
- Jesus, Lover Of My Soul
- Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending
- Awake My Soul And With The Sun
- Rock Of Ages Cleft For Me
- When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
- Jerusalem The Golden
- Sun Of My Soul, Thou Savior Dear
Most of these are not typical wedding hymns, of course. It is interesting to note that 3 of these were composed by Charles Wesley.
There are often multiple lyrics for a popular music setting – for example, the song I grew up knowing as “The Doxology” is musically almost identical to “All People That On Earth Do Dwell“, a well known Catholic wedding hymn. Also known as the old 100th because the lyric is taken from Psalm 100, the original lyric was from Psalm 134 in the Genevan Psalter, 2nd edition. It is perhaps the most recognizable hymn tune in the Christian church at large. The Doxology lyric was written some years later by a Church Of England clergyman. Yet another lyric set to this music was composed by Issac Watts entitled Praise To God, from Psalm 117.