As a loyal subject, I (and half the world) watched the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and (as she now is) Catherine, Duchess of the same. How handy is the Internet! I had the Order of Service before me, thanks to the Guardian's website; and, having the 1662 Marriage Service looked up also, I realized that it was basically that, albeit somewhat edited (and filled out with sundry anthems). Next, I realized that it was probably what a quick search of my bookshelf, and then the Internet, confirmed: it was the Alternative Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, from the 1928 Proposed B.C.P.
Most startlingly to me, the principal difference between the 1662 and the 1928 services is that the latter omits every one of the former's references to Old Testament persons whose history and example are so important: Adam and Eve; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Isaac and Rebecca; Abraham and Sarah. It also omits reference to God as Creator of all things out of nothing, as maker of man in His own image, and of woman from man, and of "the time of man's innocency". How shocking, that as far back as 1928 all such Scriptural references were deleted. What a dreadful commentary on liturgical reform so-called.
But stay! There were some interesting differences and augmentations also present in to-day's royal wedding. Some were beautiful, but not of great import: as the singing of an anthem and hymn at the entrance into the Abbey, before the service proper; and likewise the singing of the National Anthem (The Queen of course being present) and another anthem, followed by solemn musick, after the final blessing. I believe it is a longstanding Anglican custom to interlard the service with congregational hymns – which sufficiently explains the hymn after the blessing "God the Father, God the Son..." about half-way through (which marks the break between the two halves of the service), and the hymn before the final collect and blessing.
The two notable inserts into the service were, firstly, the blessing of the ring, and, secondly, the insertion of a Lesson and Address (each accompanied by an anthem) where the 1928 form of service contemplates only a psalm (Ps 128 or 67) – which presumably the centonized anthem "This is the day", drawn from divers psalms, replaced. It appears that, rather than read a passage of Holy Writ, or the Address as given in 1662, or a Sermon at the very end of all, as the 1928 proposes, the decision was taken to have the Word proclaimed and preached between the two halves of the service – which worked well.
(It ought of course be recognized that the Anglican marriage service descends from the Sarum forms used to marry couples and then to bless their union during the ensuing Nuptial Mass: that is why the couple approached the altar for the various prayers at the end.)
I did feel a bit annoyed, it must be said, to see the rather anti-Catholic, and very anti-Ordinariate, Bishop of London preach, though his words were quite decent.
But most interesting to this liturgically-minded person was the unexpected blessing of the ring – because neither the 1662 nor the 1928 provide any such prayer. It appears that it instead is a conflation of the prayer provided for this in the 1929 Scottish BCP with that in the 1928 US BCP, as follows:
Scottish 1929 BCP:
BLESS this ring, O merciful Lord, that he who giveth and she who weareth it may ever be faithful one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1928 US BCP:
BLESS, O Lord, this Ring, that he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favour, unto their life's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The prayer used at the royal wedding:
BLESS, O Lord, this ring, and grant that he who gives it and she who shall wear it may remain faithful to each other, and abide in thy peace and favour, and live together in love until their lives’ end. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Of course, these forms all stem from the Latin original:
Benedic, Domine, annulum hunc, quem nos in tuo nomine benedicimus, ut quæ eum gestaverit, fidelitatem integram suo sponso tenens, in pace et voluntate tua permaneat, atque in mutuali caritate semper vivat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Or, if there be two rings:
Benedic, Domine, annulos hos, quos nos in tuo nomine benedicimus, ut qui eos gestaverint, fidelitatem integram suis sponsis tenentes, in pace et voluntate tua permaneant, atque in mutuali caritate semper vivant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
All very interesting. Some more researching has discovered to me that this prayer is found, together with the 1928 form for marriage, in the form for marriage provided by the Church of England as one of its Alternative Services, Series One, which essentially at last made fully licit the 1928 Proposed BCP. The interpolations mentioned above, however, must be a result of flexible rubrical interpretation.
God bless the happy couple: now united in marriage at last, after quite enough practising, as the Prince of Wales slyly but all too truly remarked some time ago. Then again, he is hardly in a position to criticise: it struck me most forcibly what a liar he is known by all men to be, given that he, too, at his wedding to the late Princess Diana, was asked somewhat as follows (if they too used the 1928 service or similar):
I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their matrimony lawful.
Charles... wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife... and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
For it is notorious that he was even then in the midst of an ongoing adulterous affair. Indeed, from a Catholic viewpoint the first marriages of both Charles and Camilla would be easily found invalid on such grounds – with the result that their current union probably could be validated. How ironic.
Her Majesty is now getting on in years, but hopefully long still to reign over us; a nice short reign for Charles, with his Princess Consort, would suffice for all and sundry to bear with; and all I think even now look forward further, as William and his Catherine should serve as King and Queen consort splendidly.
Thank God that referendum for a republic failed. The monarchy has served us well, and it is doubtful that a better arrangement could be devised in the present state of the world (much as a Catholic monarchy would be preferable).