Posted on July 7th, 2010
I’m reviewing the draft of a wedding service folder for a marriage that will take place at Immanuel later this month, and thought I’d review the notes on the Rite in the Lutheran Service Book Agenda. There I discovered something surprising that doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Under “General Notes” on Holy Matrimony, the Agenda says on p64:
1. The rite of Holy Matrimony may be used at the beginning of the Divine Service or Daily Office. It may also stand by itself as an independent order of service.
2. If the rite is used at the beginning of the Divine Service, it comes before the Introit… If it is used at the beginning of the Daily Office … it precedes the opening versicles or psalmody.
This is quite different from the Lutheran Worship Agenda, which says simply, “This rite, with adaptation, may be set within the Divine Service, Matins or Morning Prayer, Vespers or Evening Prayer, where it will follow the Sermon” (p120).
According to the LSB Agenda, not only the Sermon but even the Scripture readings come after the marriage rite has taken place. Placing the entire rite up front seems to me to be awkward in the sense that God’s Word and the preaching thereof comes after the marriage has been solemnized. It also would make, I suspect, the service seem strangely longer. Everyone is gathered for the wedding, not a service. Putting the Rite up front comes close to creating two events. Once the marriage has been solemnized, I imagine a lengthy Matins or Vespers service, complete with a sermon, would only seem annoying to all but the most zealous Christians. It seems to me to be better to have the first part of Vespers, focused on hearing the Word, be anticipatory to and set the context for the reason for the gathering, namely, the wedding, and then follow the marriage with a Canticle of praise (such as the Te Deum) and Prayers.
What do you think? Share your thoughts on weddings and the placement of the rite that you’ve seen or officiated in the comments.