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Choosing Hymns for your Wedding

The process of choosing hymns often causes worry and anxiety when planning a wedding. They can also be disappointing on the day if the congregation doesn’t find them easy and helpful to sing. This page is intended to help make it easier.

We will always do our best to accommodate requests for specific hymns. Most couples prepare at least a simple service leaflet, in which case it may be possible to include suitable songs or hymns that are not in one of our standard books, subject to licensing restrictions. However, if you decide not to produce your own order of service, the choice will be limited to hymns contained in the books available at the individual church and your selections will need to be confirmed.

When choosing hymns there are a number of things to bear in mind:

  1. Whether the words are understandable and appropriate: there are many appropriate hymns, but some choices have words that people find difficult to grasp, while others are simply not very appropriate on closer inspection.
  2. What proportion of the congregation are likely to know them: it is worth bearing in mind the age range of the congregation and their experience of ‘church’. Some may only know what could be called ‘school hymns’. It is embarrassing for everyone if the minister is the only one singing heartily.
  3. How easy the tune is to learn and sing: there will always be some who don’t know any hymn, so a good sing-able tune is essential – not too tricky and neither too high nor too low.
  4. How long the hymn is: some popular choices are quite long and repetitive. The temptation is then to prune out one or more verses, but there is the danger of making the hymn disjointed.
  5. Suitability for different points in the service: there are normally two opportunities to sing in a wedding service, or occasionally three.

The first hymn normally comes just after the welcome. A hymn of praise is often suitable, which may have a particular focus on love.

The second hymn is normally just after the address and before the prayers. This is often a more reflective song or one which is prayer-like.

The final (optional) opportunity for a hymn is right at the end of the service, after the signing of the registers and before the bridal party leaves church. Again, a hymn of praise may be appropriate, but a traditional ‘wedding hymn’ is often good at this point.

The list on the following pages represents the most common choices of all. A few notes are included for guidance Please feel free to contact the Rector for further advice before making a final decision.

Of course hymns are not the only form of music sometimes used at weddings.

The list below is far from exhaustive but may be of some help.

You may wish also to consider having a seasonal hymn: eg for a wedding at harvest or Christmas.

Quick links into the hymns:  A   B   C   D   F   G      J   L   M   N   O   P   T

All creatures of our God and King
A great hymn of praise suitable for opening the service.

All people that on earth do dwell
A great hymn of praise suitable for opening the service.

All things bright and beautiful
Very well known and popular with all generations.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
Suitable for use before the prayers.

And did those feet in ancient times (Jerusalem)
Blake’s words are poetic and moving, and speak in a number of different ways to people. Please bear in mind that at a small wedding it may be a hard hymn to sing.

Blest be the tie that binds
A more old-fashioned hymn. One of the less common choices.

Breathe on me, breath of God
A lovely hymn asking for God’s help by his Holy Spirit. Great before the prayers. There are several tunes that are all easy to sing.

Christ is made the sure foundation
A great hymn for ending a marriage service

Christ triumphant, ever reigning
Another good closing hymn. Less well-known.

Come down, O love divine
A lovely hymn to have before the prayers.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind
A good, well-known hymn that is suitable before the Prayers.

Father, hear the prayer we offer
Another simple, well-known hymn that is ideal before the prayers, whatever the topic of the address.

For the beauty of the earth
A good general praise hymn for the beginning of the
service that is likely to be fairly well known.

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning (Give me joy in my heart)
A popular ‘school hymn’ type song. It asks for God’s help in various ways. Very easy to sing and very jolly. Some might see it as rather child-like, but it’s simplicity may also be seen as its virtue.

Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost Like Breathe on me, breath of God and Come down, O love divine
Tthis is another lovely traditional hymn asking for God’s help by his Holy Spirit. Suitable before the prayers.

Great is thy faithfulness
A stirring hymn to open or close with, expressing confidence and trust in God in every season of life.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise
A good opening hymn of praise focusing on God.

In heavenly love abiding
An excellent but slightly less well-known hymn based on the 23rd Psalm. Good before the prayers.

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
A good strong opening hymn of praise.

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
Prayerful hymn with good words that may be suitable before the prayers.

Let all the world in every corner sing
Good praise hymn to begin the service.

Lord of all hopefulness
Excellent after the address and before the prayers, or even at the end of the service. Quite well known to all generations.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us (Living Lord)
A good opening hymn focusing on God. Verse 2 should be omitted except on rare occasions when the service includes Eucharist.

Love divine, all loves excelling
One of the wedding hymns of all time. Hard to beat, and with a couple of alternative tunes that are both strong and easy to sing.

Make me a channel of your peace
A more modern song that is well-known to all generations. Very good words that make it extremely suitable before the prayers.

Morning has broken
Frequently chosen as an opening hymn, partly
because it so well known to all generations. Best before noon!

Now thank we all our God
Generally well known to people as a popular harvest hymn, but it is a great general-purpose hymn of thanksgiving also. Particularly good to go out to.

O perfect love
This hymn practically is a prayer, and is very much written with weddings in mind. A lovely hymn to use after the address almost as part of the prayers. Less used nowadays.

O praise ye the Lord
A well known and uplifting hymn of praise to start the service with a bang.

O thou who camest from above
A beautiful hymn of self-offering for use immediately before the prayers. A simple, beautiful tune.

O worship the King
Very well known, and a good opening hymn.

One more step along the way I go
Another popular ‘school hymn’ type of song that asks for God to be with us along the way, which is a good sentiment. Like Give me oil, it is easy and jolly to sing. Again, some might see it as rather child-like, but it can be a good song to go out to.

Praise my soul the King of heaven
Very well known, and a good opening hymn.

Take my life and let it be
Another beautiful hymn of self-offering immediately before the prayers. Again, a simple, beautiful tune.

The King of love my shepherd is
An alternative setting of the 23rd Psalm that is quite well known. See The Lord’s my shepherd below.

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want
The most popular and best-known setting of the 23rd Psalm. For some people it is too closely associated with funerals, but it is a good choice before the prayers to express confidence that God will be with us through thick and thin in the years ahead.

To God be the glory
Pretty well-known, and a reasonable choice for an opening or closing hymn.