Irish wedding music

Irish wedding music

Ireland’s bishops are compiling a list of “suitable” wedding music from which couples can choose. Priests were complaining about all the pop music being played at weddings, often with inappropriate lyrics. I can just imagine the stuff people wanted.

  • Weddings tend to be driven less by the sacredness of the occasion, than by ingratiating a young woman’s fantasies, in what ends up looking like the coming-out party she never had (or maybe did, but in a different dress). When we remove all traces of novelty (which could by definition include the bride being given away by the father, an uncle, or any older male relative with a pulse), we might someday treat it as the event in the life of the Church that it really is.

  • David, are you old enough to have a grown daughter?  If not, perhaps you don’t really understand that “giving away” ritual.  Daddys are VERY protective of their “little” girls.  That quick ceremony should help to reinforce the notion that Daddy’s Little Girl now answers to a new man in her life.  I think that symbolism is a meaningful part of the wedding ceremony to help insure that the new marriage gets off to a good start.  If daddy is paying attention, that is.

  • When did this idea of lists of music to pick from for sacraments develop?

    When my mother died, Father presented me with a list at the funeral home and asked me to choose 4 songs.  It was a long list.  There were exactly 4 songs on it that were solidly recognizably Catholic.  It wasn’t much of a choice, but I wasn’t in the mood to make any more choices anyway.  “Ave Maria” and “Panis Angelicus” are the two that I remember.

  • No, I don’t have a daughter. I have a son. But I understand the “giving away” ritual just fine. It is essentially a pagan (later Protestant) custom, where one man (the father) hands over the title of his property to another man (the groom). I’m trying real hard to square this little scenario with the Catholic theology of Marriage, and it’s quite a stretch.

  • In the Eastern churches (be they Catholic or Orthodox), the bride and the groom are led down the aisle by the priest. Where this custom is not observed, is to the extent that Western (that is, non-sacred) influences, prevail.

  • I think the symbolism is biblical: The woman leaves her mother and father and cleaves to her husband and they become one. I think it was also a symbol of becoming a woman when women married much younger than they do now.

    I do agree that many weddings today are mini-pageants where the bride gets to pretend she’s a princess for a day and the actual sacrament gets lost.

    Carrie, the need for lists came from people wanting to play Danny Boy at funerals and God knows what at weddings. The list is supposed to ensure that stuff like George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” aren’t played during the ceremony. If you think the list was bad, imagine what a free-for-all would be like.

    Also, like you say, many people, at the time of a funeral, aren’t in the mood to figure out what music they want so a list makes it easier.

  • The text actually reads: “A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife…” But to be fair, the other point about the passage to womanhood does have some anthropological merit—if not biblical. But you’re both right about everything else.

  • Thanks for the links, “j802”.

    It seems Fr. Paul Turner, author of the essay, is a translator for ICEL. It makes his contribution to the subject … suspect in my eyes.

    His reservation seem to be based on opinion and assumed cultural expression, not on the Scriptural appropriateness or other concerns.

    The Rite itself makes provision for other cultural expressions and is remarkably fluid for a sacramental ritual.

    In any case neither specifically state that the father giving away the bride is verboten or that a desire for the Biblical imagery of a woman leaving her parents to cleave to her faither is inappropriate.

    In other words, if the couple want to stick to the traditional form, why not? If they want to process in together, power to them. Whatever floats your boat. The Church allows it, so why should we make a big deal about it. There are bigger fish to fry.

    (I’m trying to think of more metaphors, but I’m stumped.)

  • I don’t disagree with you Domenico, jsut wanted to show that there are arguments on both sides of this and I find them most interesting.

    I take Turner’s stuff with a grain of salt, but I think he makes some interesting arguments.

    When you say “traditional”, I wonder how traditional it is? In Catholic churches, was the bride andfather thing done 50yrs ago, 100 yrs ago, 500 yrs ago etc?

    I REALLY don’t know the answer, but perhaps people are projecting things they’ve seen in Hollywood movies as being “traditional”

  • Don’t worry. I’m taking a lighthearted view toward this particular subject. I do think both sides of the debate are interesting.

    I don’t know how old the custom, but Fr. Turner says it has medieval roots, so it must be at least that old.

  • Are you sitting down, Dom?  In my quite orthodox parish, when the pastor msgr. died 10+ years ago, they played Danny Boy at the funeral (I seem to recall bagpipes, but don’t quote me).  He was Irish and most of the parish was in tears.  Fortunately they used other lyrics than the ones you’re most familiar with, though.

  • When I got married in 1970, we had a very small wedding and skipped some of the trappings.  Since my father was no longer living, I asked my Godfather to walk me down the aisle, but he declined since he was not planning to come North for the wedding (from Florida where he lived).  I asked a man who had been like a father to me, but he felt it would not be appropriate to do it.

    Meanwhile my mother was making noises about walking down the aisle all by herself in front of all 35 guests.

    I solved the problem.  I walked her down the aisle on my arm.  Got us both down front with no more hassles.  I didn’t look around to see if everyone’s mouth was hanging open as I did it.

    Sometimes tradition is simply useless.

  • I heard a feminist professor at Boston College on NPR the other day talking about why she told her father he couldn’t walk her down the aisle (it almost broke his heart but she didn’t care it was HER day) she didn’t want to partake in a ceremony that was based in treating women like property. I say if the liberal feminists are against it then there must be some merit in the custom wink

    Though I must say, I always had a vision of walking down the aisle with both of my parents ever since on my first communion day I processed down the aisle with them bearing the gifts. I think its a nice symbol of leaving one’s parents to start a new household, an image of community and continuity, the parents giving a public blessing to the new couple. But that’s just me.

  • Dom: As far as Fr Turner goes, “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” The Rite of Marriage itself describes a wedding procession. I wish I had it here, and I could quote it. It’s pretty clear that “giving the bride away” is not called for. What is clear, is that the priest, the ministers, and the wedding party are part of the procession. No, the giveaway is not listed specifically as “verboten.” It doesn’t have to be. The purpose of rubrics is to say what is done, not to say what is not done.

    Yes, there are “bigger fish to fry.” How a wedding is handled can betray attitudes toward them—as the bulk of this conversation would already suggest.

    Bottom line, it’s not just about the bride.

  • Found it.

    “19. At the appointed time, the Priest, vested for Mass, goes with the ministers to the door of the church or, if more suitable, to the altar. There he meets the bride and bridegroom in a friendly manner, showing that the Church shares their joy.

    “Where it is desirable that the rite of welcome be omitted, the celebration of marriage begins at once with the Mass.

    “20. If there is a procession to the altar, the ministers go first, followed by the priest, and then the bride and the bridegroom. According to local custom, they may be escorted by at least their parents and the two witnesses. Meanwhile, the entrance song is sung.”

    That’s “at least,” as opposed to “at most.”

  • Re: “Danny Boy” at funerals.

    There is a setting of a paraphrase of the “In Paradisum” using the Londonderry Air tune, called the “Irish Song of Farewell.” This may be what you heard at the funerals.

  • Actually I like the idea of an entrance procession which includes priest and ministers as well as bride and groom, attendants, and parents of the bride and groom.  I’d still opt for some sort of gesture indicating that the parents recognize their premier position in the life of their child is being turned over to the new spouse, though.  It’s so important to the future happiness of the bride and groom that this transfer of primacy of affection take place.