Monday, June 2, 2008


Yes, I'm talking about Wagner's Bridal Chorus (Here comes the bride, big fat and wide...) and Mendelssohn's Wedding March (from a Midsummer Night's Hallucination).

Gary Penkala at CanticaNOVA Publications has a very good take on these two marches and why they're discouraged in many parishes, and even disallowed in some. I usually try to discourage it, and I have in my last three parishes with a 95% success rate. I've very rarely had to bite the bullet with this one (DAG NABBIT! If I was only so lucky at funerals with discouraging Beagle's Things, Be Not Afraid, How Great Thou Art, and Gentle Woman!).

In fact, the rubrics call for the Entrance Song - yes, something sung by the congregation, as opposed to the big march (my most popular option for marches, btw, is putting the Clarke Trumpet Voluntary, aka The Prince of Denmark's March, and the Purcell Trumpet Tune at the front and back ends of the Mass respectively). I rarely get to enjoy the hymn option, though I've had a couple of instances where I've gotten to do BOTH - the march while the party is processing, then the hymn as the couple approaches the edge of the sanctuary (or in some cases, the altar rail).

The late Fr. Rene Gagne, who I worked with for 6-1/2 of the eight years I was at Precious Blood Church, was a big opera buff who would not think twice about travelling from Woonsocket, RI to New York City to see a good opera. I can't remember which opera, Wagner's and/or Mendelssohn's, but Fr. Gagne did mention to me that in at least one of them, the bride featured in the respective march was a prostitute. I often use that defense for my discouraging the two. But now with Mr. Penkala's reference to the groom in the Mendelssohn turning into a jackass, now I think I might have some more clout! Thanks, Gary! :)


PS: I say all this with all due respect to Felix Mendelssohn, who has excellent sacred works in his catalog.


PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

A hymn at our weddings is standard: the wedding party and bride enter to the instrumental processional, and then the priest (and any servers) enter and make the customary reverences during the entrance hymn. Mendelssohn and Wagner are banned by name in the diocesan guidelines for wedding music (said guidelines were promulgated as particular law in 2000).

Brian Michael Page said...

Good! We need a ruling like that here in Providence.

Argent said...

But, Bri, what if the mother-of-the bride does think the bridegroom is a jackass and wanted her dig? Would you then be depriving said lady of her pleasure while playing Widor's Toccata instead? How mean of you.

Brian Michael Page said...

Then the mother of the bride's best bet would be to have it thrown on a CD and the new son-in-law can pop it in once the he and bridezilla get into the limo en route to the reception.

The CD should come with a card signed by the mother-in-law: "Congratulations bride and her jackass!"

See: me not mean. Problem solved. :)

Jason Pennington said...

I played the Lohengrin-Meets-Secret-Bride and the Oberon/Titania-Do-The-Nasty marches last Saturday. They were fun. Hadn't played 'em publicly in years. As a freelancer, I'll play whatever is on the list, and both were. No one squawked, and even if they had, it wasn't up to me anyway. I could play it, the bride wanted it, so there you have it. I think the groom left in a mini bus, though, and not a swan.


Cathy said...

ANY and ALL secular music is banned at SJC.
So is crappy "non-secular" music.

For the wedding I'm in on July 19th, the processional is Veni, Creator Spiritus, chanted by the schola.
The rest of the music is equally awesome. I'm not excited about 100 degrees in a church with no AC, but it's going to be a beautiful Mass.
Until I faint.

(P.S. Mendelssohn's "Elijah" is my favorite oratorio ever.)