High Church Wedding Liturgy for a Low Church Setting

I recently got married in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and had the privilege of freely working on the liturgy for the ceremony. I thought this would be a useful post for those who want a low church service that is still proper. Those who attended my ceremony were mostly Protestants from evangelical and reformed traditions, but everyone followed along quite well, and nobody seemed uncomfortable. This liturgy roughly follows a vespers service from The Lutheran Hymnal along with a marriage rite. The exact setting is modified from Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Detroit. I cannot publish the entirety marriage rite, as that belongs Zion. Modifications were made to direct the congregation more easily in a couple places and to remove kneeling. The entire liturgy was spoken, except the hymns, which were sung, of course.

The week before, the following banns should be published, and the following prayer prayed during the intercessions:

The Banns: On [day of the week], the [#th] Day of [month], this [#th] year of our Lord ✠ Jesus Christ, [Groom] and [Bride] desire to enter the holy estate of matrimony according to the Lord’s Word. They desire our prayers so that they may begin their marriage in God’s Name and with His blessing. If you can show just cause why these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony, you are to declare it before the wedding. May God grant them His blessing.

The prayer: Let us pray for [Groom] and [Bride], who are to be united before God and this congregation in Holy Matrimony (next/this) week: Heavenly Father, You have established matrimony and desire that we keep it holy. Behold with favor [Groom] and [Bride], who intend to have their union blessed by Your Word. Grant them Your grace that they may begin their wedded life in You, live according to Your Word, and rejoice in Your strong love and enduring blessings; Lord, in Your mercy… (hear our prayer).

The ordo:

Cover title: “The Divine Office at Vespers with the Wedding of [Bride] and [Groom].”

First page of liturgy title: “The Divine Office of Solemn Vespers with The Rite of Holy Matrimony [Bride] & [Groom] The [#th] Day of [Month] The Year of Our Lord [year].”

Words in bold are spoken by the congregation. CAPITAL UNDERLINED ITALICS are actions for the congregation.

The Prelude

Please STAND when the bride enters.

The Processional – It is traditional to bow as the Crucifix/Cross passes. When the wedding party has taken their places, please remain STANDING.

Opening Versicle

Pastor: Make ✠ haste, O God, to deliver me.

Congregation: Make haste to help me, O Lord.

All: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: World without end. Amen. Alleluia.

The Psalm ✠ Psalm 127

P: Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

C: It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

P: Lo, Children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

C: As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth.

P: Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Please BE SEATED

The First Reading ✠ Genesis 2:18, 21-24

The Responsory

P: But thou O Lord, have mercy upon us.

C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord.

The Second Reading ✠ Ephesians 5:20-33

The Responsory

P: But thou O Lord, have mercy upon us.

C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord.

Note: An interlude may be played while the pastor moves form the lectern to the pulpit.

The Homily

The Hymn

Note: Any of the following hymns is acceptable for the service. It may be best to choose a more well-known hymn tune for the setting or just a simple tune. I wrote a simple organ prelude for “Lord ‘Tis not that I did Choose Thee” that was played while people were arriving to get the tune into the ears of the congregation.

O Morning Star How Fair And Bright, LSB 395
Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus, LSB 531 (TLH 367)
Salvation Unto Us Has Come, LSB 555 (TLH 277)
Lord ’tis Not That I Did Choose Thee, LSB 573 (TLH 37)
Thy Strong Word, LSB 578
The Law Of God Is Good And Wise, LSB 579 (TLH 295)
These Are The Holy Ten Commands, LSB 581
Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide, LSB 585 (TLH 292)
God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It, LSB 594
All Christians Who Have Been Baptized, LSB 596
Jesus Christ Our Blessed Savior, LSB 627 (TLH 311)
Built on the Rock the Church Doth Stand, LSB 645 (TLH 467)
Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation, LSB 659 (TLH 258)
What God Ordains Is Always Good, LSB 760 (TLH 521)
Our Father Who From Heav’n Above, LSB 766 (TLH 458)
O God O Lord Of Heaven And Earth, LSB 834
Go My Children With My Blessing, LSB 922

The Rite of Holy Matrimony

Note: Most of rite below follows what is seen generally in any of the Lutheran marriage rites published by the LCMS. I cannot publish the full text as it belongs to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Detroit.

The Matrimonial Address

The congregation STANDS.

The Invocation

P: In the Name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen

The congregation IS SEATED.

The Betrothal Vows

The Parental Consent and Blessing

The Marriage Vows

The Blessing of the Rings

The Exchange of Rings

The Pronouncement of Marriage

The Marriage Blessing

After the Marriage Blessing, the congregation STANDS.

The Marriage Prayer

The Magnificat

Note: For the Magnificat, the TLH setting “My Soul doth magnify the Lord” is an excellent choice to make this singable for the common Protestant. It’s Long Metre, so the words can be set to many well-known tunes. I used Old Hundredth (the famous tune for “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow/The Doxology”).

Please BE SEATED.

The Prayers

Note: I added ellipses into the ordo to save on space for formatting. The full prayers can be seen at the bottom of this post.

P: Let us pray.

The Kyrie

All: Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

The Our Father

P: Taught by Our Lord and trusting His promise, we are bold to pray:

All: Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from ✠ evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Collects

P: The Lord be with you.

C: And with your spirit.

The Wedding Collect

P: Let us pray.

Almighty, eternal God, our heavenly Father… through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C: Amen

Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

O God of Life, Lord of Sabaoth… through the same Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

C: Amen

For Peace

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed… through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C: Amen

The Salutation

P: The Lord be with you.

C: And with your spirit.

The Benedicamus

P: Bless we the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.

The Nuptial Blessing

P: Almighty God bless, preserve and keep you… in the Name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen

The Blessing

P: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit ✠ be with you all.

C: Amen

The Silent Prayer

Pray that the love of Christ, by His Word, may abide in you and may strengthen and encourage [Bride] and [Groom].

The Pronunciation

Note: This pronunciation was an addition of preference and is not in the original liturgies. The officiant spoke, “It is my pleasure to announce to you, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. [Groom’s full name]. You may kiss the bride.” Following this, the recessional music immediately began.

The Retiring Processional

When the Processional begins, please STAND.

It is traditional to bow as the Crucifix/Cross passes. When the wedding party has left the nave, please SIT. You will be ushered from your seats.

✠ Soli Deo Gloria ✠

On the back cover, it is fitting to place relevant Bible verses or quotes from church fathers or Lutheran theologians and credits for any cover art.

The full prayers that were used without ellipses:

The Wedding Collect: Almighty, eternal God, our heavenly Father, who has united this man and this woman in the holy estate of matrimony, grant them the grace to live therein according to Your Word; strengthen them in constant faithfulness and true love toward each other; sustain and defend them amidst all trials and temptations; and help them so to pass through this world in faith towards You, in communion with your holy Church, and in loving service one of the other, that they may ever enjoy Your heavenly benediction; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Commemoration of the Faithful Departed: O God of Life, Lord of Sabaoth, who has won for us eternal life in your Son Jesus Christ, we remember in thanksgiving all our loved ones who have gone before us with the sign of Faith and now sleep the sleep of peace. Grant to them, and to all who rest in the Church Victorious, as You have promised, a place of refreshment, light, and peace, through the same Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

For Peace: O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto Your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments, and also that we, being defended by You from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Nuptial Blessing: Almighty God bless, preserve and keep you; the Lord mercifully behold you with His grace; the Lord fill you with every spiritual blessing, so that, living together in His love in this life, you may enter with joy in His heavenly home; in the Name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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