Choosing hymns for your wedding

Photo Credit: Richard Galloway

A question that pops up fairly often for us is, “What hymns should we choose for our wedding?” It’s something that I spent a lot of time thinking about in preparation for my own. I knew that my wedding would be full of musicians and people familiar with church and church-type songs, yet I still deliberated over what songs would people know, what people would feel comfortable with, how I would encourage them to sing and how to give them the best experience possible for a wedding.

Many couples already know that their guests aren’t comfortable in or familiar with church, let alone the songs. A lot of them rely on songs they remember from school, which unfortunately can bore the pants of the ordinary person after verse 5! So I thought I’d compile a list of good songs to choose, some do’s and don’ts and some things we offer that might brighten up your congregation.

Do

Choose songs that people can remember or relate to… famous hymns, sports anthems, songs from movies.

Write the lyrics in the order or service and make sure they are correct.

Get advice from vicars and musicians – ask them to cast an eye over your choices and lyrics to spot any mistakes.

Ask your friends and family what they think of your choices – do they know the songs you’ve picked.?

Think contemporary. You may love organs (played well, they are amazing instruments and they are definitely for grand occasions!), but you could also consider a piano, a band, or a contemporary backing track. A pianist may be able to update the feel of a hymn just by the way he plays it.

Listen to the hymns on youtube or iTunes as your deciding. You may think you don’t know them when you actually do.

Get people to help with the singing if you think none of your guests will sing – either us at Get Gospel, a church choir or other musicians.

Don’t

Choose songs that have a million verses. It can get tiring and boring for the congregation. I suggest four verse should be the maximum, but that depends on the length of the verse of course. Feel free to eliminate some of the verses and/or choruses.

Choose a song just because you remember it from school, unless you want to remember your school days. There are so many songs out there which could be more impacting, more suited to the occasion, more vibrant. Ask for advice!

Pick too many. Two is a good number, three will work if they are good songs and not too long!

Some popular choices

Hymns

Jerusalem  (football anthem & English anthem)
I Vow To Thee My County (rugby anthem) – there are more spiritual words available as well.
Amazing Grace
Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer
How Great Thou Art
Be Thou My Vision
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Be Still For The Presence of the Lord
Shine Jesus Shine
Love Divine All Loves Excelling
Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven
Lord Of All Hopefulness

Two more with caution:
Lord Of The Dance – be aware this has a lot of verses! It’s popular but worth cutting a verse or two.
One More Step Along The World I Go – as above! The tune is also quite tedious, though popular as it is reminiscent of childhood.

Contemporary Worship Songs – this usually depends on the year you’re marrying but here are some staples:

In Christ Alone
Cornerstone
10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
How Great Is Our God
Happy Day
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
Beautiful One
Here I am to worship
Your Love Never Fails
Your Praise Will Ever Be On My Lips
Lord I Give Your My Heart

Gospel Songs – again it depends on the year but here are some consistent favourites

Oh Happy Day – this is something we often teach to a congregation before singing, and works well.
Joyful Joyful – this is a well known tune in its own right and from Sister Act 2 that can bring some fun to proceedings.
What A Friend We Have in Jesus
Total Praise
Lord You Are Good and Your Mercy Endureth Forever
Friend Of God
Never Would Have Made It
My Life Is In Your Hands

Is there a song you think should be on this list? If so, please let me know! Email info@getgospel.co.uk.

I hope this little list helps! Good luck and have fun!

Jules

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