Nine numbered sections in Sing To The Lord detail the thoughts and directives of the US bishops on liturgical music for weddings. Let’s look at the last six of these and the advice given by the US bishops.
Paragraph 219 advises dioceses and parishes to “have a definite but flexible policy” on wedding music “communicated early to couples.”
The three judgments that originated in the early post-Vatican II years come into the picture in paragraph 220. That largely omits secular music, and hopefully emphasizes texts that “celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ.” What does that mean? Many Catholic couples are unprepared to receive that term. But most would appreciate the centrality of Christ in the expression of the sacraments. The Paschal Triduum shows the way. Jesus offered himself in humble service as celebrated on Holy Thursday. His sacrifice reached an ultimate end on Good Friday. Rising to new life completes the mystery. How are couples invited to see their relationship in light of this? If they can address that fruitfully they will have a grace-filled assessment of their relationship in the light of the Savior.
Other assessments of the US bishops:
- Solo vocalists should serve as cantors and psalmists, not just performers.
- At a wedding Mass the guidance of SttL 137-199 applies.
- For a wedding liturgy with Liturgy of the Word, similar liturgical guidance is in place.
- The singing of the assembly is encouraged after an instrumental entrance procession or following the blessing and exchange of rings. If other cultural practices accompany the exchange of vows in the Marriage Rite, then a song at that moment is also appropriate.
- “Participation aids should be provided” for the people present, including translations into the vernacular and copyright notices.
Much of this is in alignment with what the ritual for Celebrating Matrimony prescribes. The rest is simply sound advice that applies well to the planning and celebration of liturgy.