Wedding Minister Services, NYC

This post is only for history buffs; I never actually used these ceremonies word-for-word, although I have adapted and incorporated some concepts into my standard ceremonies.

Below is a marriage service from a 1900 handbook with texts for (Christian) ministers for weddings, baptisms, and funerals.  The person who put it together specifically included a sample marriage service for those who thought the giving away of bride to be a “relic of a barbaric time.”  The Methodists eradicated the “service and obey” lines in the late 1800s.  And few JOP and Quaker services seem to have included those lines in vows.

The parties standing arm in arm, the Minister shall say:

Dear Friends, we have gathered here this day to unite this man and this woman in holy marriage. This is an institution ordained by God in the very laws of our being, for the happiness and welfare of mankind. To be true, this outward ceremony must be but a symbol of that which is inner and real,— a sacred union of hearts that the Church may bless and the State make legal, but that neither can create or annul. To be happy, there must be a consecration of each to other, and of both to the noblest ends of life.

Believing that in such a spirit as this and with such a purpose you have now come, you may join your right hands.

Standing as you do now in the presence of God and these witnesses, you promise each to take the other as companion and (bosom) friend: Do you enter this covenant of matrimony lawfully in conscientious fidelity to have and to hold from this day forth, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, prosperity and adversity, and forsaking all others, cleave yourselves unto each other for as long as you both shall live?

What pledge do you offer that you will fulfill these vows ?

Ans.— This ring.

Hands it to the Minister.

Do you, on your part, accept this in token of the same ? Ans. — I do.

Handing back the ring.

You will then place it on the fourth finger of the left hand.

After this is done, and they have again joined their right hands, to them both:

Forasmuch, then, as you have now pledged your mutual vows, and have given and received a ring in token of the same, I — by virtue of authority vested in me by the State, and in the name of heaven — pronounce you husband and wife.

Let us pray:

God, who hast set the humanity in families, binding us together by these sacred and tender ties, these, thy children, have now, with clasped hands and mutual pledges, taken upon themselves these life-long obligations. We trust that it is indeed true that these outward acts symbolize a union of hearts already made sacred by the holy love with which thou hast round them together. From out the innumerable multitudes of earth these two have come, looked n each other’s faces, and are made one. Their converging ways have united, and henceforth are be the same.

If it be possible, may their paths be ever easy and pleasant beneath their feet. May the skies be ever sunny over their heads. But, if sorrow must come,— as it comes to all,— let the pressure of trial only bind them closer together. Let the experiences through which they pass only make them more and more completely one. With clasped hands and united hearts, may they accept life’s joys and bear its burdens. And, if their sun goes down and night darkens their sky, may it at least be bright with the stars of hope.

And when the day of life is over, and the evening shadows fall, like tired but happy children, may they come home to thee, and find the door of the Father’s house wide open to their returning feet.

BENEDICTION.

Now may God bless thee and keep thee; God’s countenance shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; God give thee peace. Amen.

Another Example …1922 Congregationalist —

If the wedding is in a house, the minister, having ascertained that all the requirements of the law of the state have been fulfilled, may use the following:

You have presented yourselves here, dear friends, in the sight of God and in the presence of these witnesses, to be joined together in the bonds of holy matrimony. There are no ties on earth so sweet and sacred as those you are about to assume. There are no vows so solemn as those which you are about to make. There is no institution on earth so blest of God, and on which his smile and benediction so rest as that of the Home, which you are about to form.

If it is your deliberate purpose to be united as husband and wife you will please join your right hands.

If Their hands being joined, the minister shall say to the man:

M , wilt thou take this woman whom thou dost hold by the hand, choosing her alone from all the world, to be thy wedded wife? Wilt thou love her and comfort her, support and cherish her in sickness .and in health, in prosperity and adversity, and forsaking all others, remain faithful to her as long as ye both shall live?

H The man shall answer
I will.

Then shall the minister say to the woman:

N , wilt thou take this man whom thou dost hold by the hand, choosing him alone from all the world, to be thy wedded husband? Wilt thou love him and comfort him, honor and cherish him, in sickness and in health, in sunshine and in storm, and forsaking all others, remain faithful to him as long as ye both shall live?

If The woman shall answer
I will.

If Then the minister, receiving from the man a ring, shall cause the man to place it upon the third finger of her left hand, and to say after the minister:

With this ring I thee wed, and pledge thee my love and loyalty, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. A men.

Repeat for woman if double-ring ceremony.

If Then shall the minister offer prayer, using his own words, or, if he prefers, the following:

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, bless these two who have thus laid hand in hand to walk together through this journey of life. Abide with them in the home and on the way. May each added year be rich with new delight in their companionship. Help them to be so true to each other and to thee that after their earthly service is completed they may be welcomed by thee into the eternal home. Amen.

Then shall the minister join their right hands together and say:

Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Then shall the minister make the announcement saying:

Forasmuch as M and N—— have consented together in holy wedlock, and in the presence of these witnesses have given and plighted their troth, I pronounce that they are husband and wife, henceforth in interest and destiny, as in affection, one; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. A men.

Then may the minister add this
BENEDICTION.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

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