The custom of playing and singing the “Lohengrin” music at church weddings is an American one. It is unknown in Europe, where people would be scandalized at the mere idea of such a thing. It arose in this country among the “social set,” who took a fancy to the opera (“Lohengrin”) when first produced here, and thought it would be “nice” to hear the bridal music at society weddings. The custom once fixed, has proved tenacious, and almost ineradicable.
Marching up the centre of a church, trying to keep step to a lively organ piece, is often a ridiculous performance, and an unchurchly one, to say the least.
The various ritual and musical inconsistencies that abound at wedding ceremonies are largely due to the fact that people do not respect the real character of the marriage service. The Prayer Book title is “Solemnization of Matrimony.” But the usual behavior of congregations at weddings, and the style of music that is sung and played, generally give little indication of the religious nature of the office. There is often a great deal of laughing and talking, and the service is turned into a veritable merry-making.
Any reform in this matter would (especially in large cities) be necessarily slow. It would be certain to displease “society” magnates, and would meet with vigorous opposition. As long as church weddings are considered primarily as social functions, we shall not make much progress in eliminating secular music and in restoring the marriage service, to its ancient dignity and churchliness.—The New Music Review.Etude Magazine. August, 1909