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June 1, 2014

Choral Music for the Season | June 2014

Choral Music for the Season

Two worthy additions to your wedding choral repertoire

Everyone loves a wedding, right? Well, maybe that’s not entirely true! Wedding preparation is a lot of work at every level—parish musicians not excluded. Cathedrals commonly celebrate many weddings, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where I am director of music, is no exception. Couples occasionally request a full choir to sing at their celebration, and it is customary for the full cathedral choir to sing at weddings of its own members. Learning new music specifically for a wedding may not be possible. I first offer music in the choir’s repertoire that can be pulled together rather effortlessly. Finding accessible new choral repertoire appropriate for weddings is of value. And, if a piece can also be used at a Sunday liturgy, it’s a big plus. The beautiful Song of Songs is commonly associated with weddings. It is the poetic interpretation of the relationship of Christ and the Church, portrayed through the love between a man and a woman.

Below are two musical settings of texts from the Song of Songs that would be worthy additions to your choral repertoire for weddings.

Angela Westhoff-Johnson

Angela Westhoff-Johnson
Managing Music Editor for OCP
and music director at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland, Oregon


Beloved (In the Love of Christ) by Luke Mayernik

Adapted from the Song of Songs, this lovely and interesting setting by Luke Mayernik will make a great addition to your wedding folder. It’s the flexibility that I love most about this piece, in addition to the beautiful richness of the music for which Mayernik has become well known. The verses are suggested to be sung by a male/female duet, which are often the forces at a wedding; however, one voice may be used throughout if two voices are not present. Flute, violin, and cello parts are included in the octavo. The instrument parts serve as embellishment, intricately weaving together, similar to the three voices of the text: the voice of the bride (the Church), the bridegroom (Christ), and the companions/Daughters of Israel. While these instrument parts add to the beauty of the piece, they are not essential. And they can be done independently of each other if you do not have all three instruments available. The text of the refrain is about unity through the love of Christ. The assembly is encouraged to join in the refrain (there is an assembly edition on the back of the octavo) to further emphasize the support the assembly will give to the bride and groom. “Beloved (In the Love of Christ)” can also be used at Sunday Masses when the readings focus on unity and God’s love for us.

Easy/Medium | Voicing: Piano, Flute

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My Beloved Spake by Andrew Wright

This setting of Song of Songs 2:10–13 is perfect for weddings where a large choir is providing music. One of my favorite settings of the text is by Healey Willan (1880–1968), the accomplished Anglo-Canadian composer. This setting, by British composer Andrew Wright, is equally lovely and is a great alternative to the Willan setting. “My Beloved Spake” is scored for SATB choir with some divisi in the soprano, alto, and bass sections, baritone and soprano soloists, and organ accompaniment. Although most appropriate for weddings, this piece is fitting for Sunday liturgy when the readings focus on love, such as 1 Corinthians 13. It requires skilled soloists, but the choral parts are manageable for SATB choirs capable of handling divisi. The parts are, for the most part, homophonic. “My Beloved Spake” would make a lovely addition to a spring choral concert as well.

Difficulty Level: Medium | Voicing: No Assembly Edition

View available octavos