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Tuesday
Aug302011

Weddings! Part 2: Prelude music

Memo to:
The Wedding Terrier
The Associate Pastor
The Pastor
The Director of Music
The Chair of the Worship Committee
My favorite vocalist and trumpeter

From:
Joby Bell, the Exhausted One

Lately, the organ’s role as a service instrument has become difficult to maintain at weddings. I feel it is time to reduce the organ’s (and/or piano’s) “social” function and tighten up its liturgical/worship role for weddings.

Indoor traffic during 30-minute wedding preludes has increased in quantity and noise level. At any given wedding, there is usually a fair amount of noise generated by chatty acolytes, clergy conversations, soloist/reader traffic, media traffic/conversation, and general congregational nervous excitement. It has become difficult to establish and maintain a worship atmosphere, let alone be able to concentrate. [Hint to the clergy: stop bringing guest clergy out at the last minute to talk through logistics while the prelude is underway.]

I believe we are all in agreement that the organ’s first “appearance” at a wedding or any other service of worship should signal the beginning of that service, but I have found it is impossible for guests to maintain such a frame of mind for very long, let alone 30 minutes, in the midst of such a social event. Since many of the participants mentioned above are rarely ready by the time the music has begun, it now seems more effective to me to allow a reasonable time of socializing and last-minute setup, then signal the commencement of the service with the organ’s first notes. Therefore, I have made the decision to reduce wedding prelude time from thirty minutes to ten. It is my hope that by ten minutes prior to the ceremony start time, the room will be prepared and the service may commence. I feel that a worshipful attitude will then be unmistakable to most people. When taken in the context of continuing efforts to promote a certain high level of worship IQ among all who enter our doors, I feel that this is a good decision and will not detract from the ceremony’s importance as a worship service first and a social event second. [Hint to all: Seating of guests to music is a social convention, not a liturgical one. I play for services of worship, not cocktail parties.]

Exception: I will be willing to play for up to twenty minutes, if the couple has made specific requests and if I determine that the assembled congregation and participants would not compromise the organ’s worship role with excessive noise or distraction. This exception should never be construed as a license to solicit such requests from couples. Those couples to whom music is especially meaningful will know who they are and will already be organized accordingly with their requests. [Hint to the Wedding Terrier: do NOT mention this exception to couples. I’ll handle it myself, based on my visit with them.]

If there are questions, see my tirade on playing when no one is listening.

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