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Weddings: Opportunities to Proclaim the Gospel

For many Christians, wedding are unfortunately an opportunity for sentimentalism, extravagant pageantry, and smarmy music. It is my burden however, that a Christian wedding be an opportunity to magnify Christ and proclaim his gospel.

Tomorrow I will be participating in the wedding ceremony of my sister-in-law, both as a minister and as a musician. My wife is the matron of honor, and our son will be the ring bearer.

Two weeks ago, I was the best man (and a musician) in the wedding of one of my closest friends, Michael Riley.

I thought I take an opportunity, without full exploration at this time, of highlighting these two wedding ceremonies; ceremonies I think serve as models of deliberately Christian weddings. I’ll also print the order of my wedding as well.

The Bible is clear that a marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church. What a better way to proclaim the gospel then through a well-thought-through wedding ceremony!

Here are just a few examples of the many ways such a proclamation could be accomplished:

THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY OF ELIZABETH ANN APELIAN TO BENJAMIN DWIGHT BLANTON
June 27, 2009

Prelude – string quartet playing hymns and classical selections

Seating of the Grandparents
“Here is Love” (arr. Campbell), vocal solo by Rachelle Greer, accompanied by string quartet

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

Seating of the Mothers
“The Church’s One Foundation/Emmanuel’s Land” (arr. Aniol), vocal solo by Scott Aniol, accompanied by solo cello

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

Bridesmaids Processional
“For the Beauty of the Earth” (arr. Forrest), string quartet

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Promenade
“What Wondrous Love is This?” (arr. Campbell), string quartet

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

READ
Introduction to <i>Recovering Intentional Worship: Some Things to Consider Including in Your Church Service</i> by David de Bruyn

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

Bridal Processional
“Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty” (arr. Aniol), string quartet

Congregational Hymn
“Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty”

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Invocation (Pastor Scott Aniol)

Call to Worship (Pastor Scott Aniol) – Revelation 19:5-9

5And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” 6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah!For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Giving of the Bride

Charge to the Bride and Groom (Pastor Brad Blanton)

Marriage Covenant

Exchange of Rings

Song of Consecration
“Take my Life” (arr. Courtney), vocal duet by Scott & Becky Aniol, accompanied by harp and violin

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Benediction (Pastor Pyle)

Declaration of Marriage

Presentation of the Bride and Groom

Recessional
“Rejoice, the Lord is King” (arr. Birnschein), string quartet

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Postlude – string quartet playing hymns and classical selections

Click here to download the program for this wedding.

THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY OF ALICIA DIANE OSWALD TO MICHAEL PATRICK RILEY
June 13, 2009

Prelude
“Flute Sonata in E minor, BWV 1034: III, Andante” (Bach), flute and piano

Seating of Grandmothers and Mothers
“Sonata in A minor, TWV 41:a3: III, Andante amabile (Telemann), organ

Processional
“Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056: II, Largo” (Bach), organ

Bridal Processional
“Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731” (Bach)

Blessèd Jesus, at Thy Word
We are gathered all to hear Thee;
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
Now to seek and love and fear Thee,
By Thy teachings sweet and holy,
Drawn from earth to love Thee solely.

All our knowledge, sense and sight
Lie in deepest darkness shrouded,
Til Thy Spirit breaks our night
With the beams of truth unclouded.
Thou alone to God canst win us;
Thou must work all good within us.

READ
"God, I am praying because I know I should, but the truth is I do not want to pray. I am bored with the whole thing!"

Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of light, from God proceeding,
Open Thou our ears and heart;
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading;
Hear the cry Thy people raises;
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Praise to Thee and adoration!
Grant that we Thy Word may trust
And obtain true consolation
While we here below must wander,
Till we sing Thy praises yonder.

Opening Prayer

Giving of the Bride
“The Church’s One Foundation/Emmanuel’s Land” (arr. Aniol), vocal solo by Scott Aniol, accompanied by solo cello

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

Charge to the Bride and Groom

Declaration of Intent
“O Father, All Creating” (AURELIA, arr. Aniol), vocal duet by Scott Aniol and Becky Stertzbach, with congregation joining on the final stanza

O Father, all creating,
Whose wisdom, love, and power
First bound two lives together
In Eden’s primal hour,
Today to these Thy children
Thine earliest gifts renew,
A home by Thee made happy,
A love by Thee kept true.

O Savior, Guest most bounteous
Of old in Galilee,
Vouchsafe today Thy presence
With these who call on Thee;
Their store of earthly gladness
Transform to heavenly wine,
And teach them, in the tasting,
To know the gift is Thine.

O Spirit of the Father,
Breathe on them from above,
So mighty in Thy pureness,
So tender in Thy love;
That, guarded by Thy presence,
From sin and strife kept free,
Their lives may own Thy guidance,
Their hearts be ruled by Thee.

Except Thou build it, Father,
The house is built in vain;
Except Thou, Savior, bless it,
The joy will turn to pain;
But naught can break the union
Of hearts in Thee made one;
And love Thy Spirit hallows
Is endless love begun.

Vows

Lighting of the Unity Candle
“The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (Rutter), vocal quartet and organ

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious, and be gracious;
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.

Prayer of Benediction

Pronouncement of Marriage

Recessional
“Now Thank We All Our God,” congregational hymn

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Postlude

THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY OF REBECCA LYNN APELIAN TO SCOTT MICHAEL ANIOL
June 19, 2004

Prelude
“Salut d’Amour” (E. Elgar), string bass solo by Amy Ketcham

“The Church of Christ” (J. Rutter), oboe solo by Erin Lohr accompanied by string quartet

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race may,
With one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

READ
Stop inviting God to your worship

Processional

Mothers and Grandmothers
“Largo” from Xerxes (G. F. Handel), string quartet

Bridesmaids
“Nimrod” from Enigma Variations (E. Elgar)

“The Lord’s Prayer” (A. H. Malotte), vocal solo by David Parker accompanied by string quartet

Bride
“Fanfare on LASST UNS ERFREUEN” (“All Creatures of Our God and King,” arr. Aniol), brass quartet

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise Him, O praise Him,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia!

Service

Welcome – Pastor Gary Reimers

Giving of the Bride

Scripture – Revelation 19:5-9

5And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” 6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah!For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Prayer

Charge to the Bride and Groom

“The Church’s One Foundation/Emmanuel’s Land” (arr. Aniol), vocal duet by Emily Shaw and Christy Jones, accompanied by solo cello

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

Exchange of Vows and Rings

Lighting of the Unity Candle
“Open Thou Mine Eyes” (J. Rutter), solo by Emily Shaw

Open thou mine eyes and I shall see,
Incline my heart and I shall desire,
Order my steps and I shall walk
In the ways of thy commandments.

O Lord God, be thou to me a God
And beside thee let there be none else,
No other, nought else with thee.
Vouchsafe to me to worship thee
and serve thee
According to thy commandments
In truth of spirit,
In reverence of body,
In blessing of lips,
In private and in public.

Pronouncement of Marriage

Presentation of the Bride and Groom

Recessional
“Fanfare of Praise” (“Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,” arr. G. F. Dougherty IV), brass quartet

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Prayer

Postlude
“The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (J. Rutter), ladies ensemble

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious, and be gracious;
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.

Click here to download the program for this wedding.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

One Response to Weddings: Opportunities to Proclaim the Gospel

  1. Scott,

    Thanks for this post. It's helpful to see how you and others plan a Christ-honoring wedding. I recently presided over such a wedding for Maria Phillips, daughter of Greg Phillips, our church's Minister of Music, and groom, Ryan Wooldridge. It was a wonderfully planned and executed God-centered ceremony. I continue to be blessed when I recall the various elements of this service.

    Warm regards,
    G. N. Barkman

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