Sunday, 7 September 2008

Hold your head up high

One of yesterday’s brides did away with the services of an organist and selected CDs to accompany her arrival, the registration of her marriage, and her departure with her new husband. It is quite usual at funerals (both those I took last week had music from CDs at the beginning, in the middle and at the end) and I’ve been anticipating it beginning to happen at weddings as well. ‘When you walk through a storm’ proved, sadly, an apt line for the beginning of the music at what turned out to be a rain besieged wedding.

It is something to so with the loss of hymns. My rule of thumb is that hymns at weddings are most usually those popular at Primary School Assemblies twenty years earlier. When I first took weddings in the 1980s the legacy of the Assemblies of the 1960s gave us such things as ‘Praise my soul the King of heaven’ and ‘Love divine’ as standard wedding hymns. Today’s weddings live on the legacies of the 1980s Assemblies with things like ‘One more step along the way I go’ and ‘Lord of the dance’. But we are moving into times when brides and grooms have no hymns in their knap-sack from Assemblies in their particular Primary Schools twenty years ago, and increasingly they will turn instead to the music they know.

Meanwhile, at funerals, the puzzle and opportunity has been how to shape a service around a central focus which pounds out non-Christian sentiments, understandings and values. With St Paul preaching in Athens in mind, I take it that the task is to name the ‘God’ that appears to be being worshipped and use that to point to the true God. When ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ is being played at a service I now always select a passage of scripture which speaks of God’s first covenant with Noah, and speak about it for a moment. I was less sure footed this week when trying to contrast the isolation of Neil Diamond’s ‘I am, I said’ with the standard funeral text ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’, but at least I tried.

The picture is a very normal cluster of buildings which simply caught my eye during a parish Treasure Hunt round Laceby after yesterday’s weddings.

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