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Royal wedding: A music guide [Video]

April 26, 2011 |  8:11 pm

Everyone except those directly involved in the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton have been kept in the dark with regard to the dress, the cake, the music and the honeymoon. In this post we take an educated guess at what music the couple might have at their wedding on Friday.

Because the wedding is British and very formal, most of the music we suggest will be unfamiliar to many readers. All can be found by searching YouTube but here are four of our favorites.

The Psalm

Psalm singing is an important part of the Church of England musical tradition. The psalms are sung in a sort of harmonized plainchant, which is unmetered so as not to destroy the integrity of the original text. The results are a rather beguiling combination of unsteadiness and total calm.

Listen to the choir of Westminster Abbey singing Psalm 67, which we're confident will appear in some form in the service on Friday.

William and Kate will be standing in front of the stairs at this point.

The Anthem

An anthem is also a form peculiar to the Church of England. It is sung in regular service after Communion and in a wedding whenever there is a scene change not covered by a hymn.

Our choice is Hubert Parry's "I Was Glad." Although we hope for a peppier version on Friday, this video of the choir of King's College in Cambridge gives us the general idea.

At this point in the service, William and Kate likely will be going up the stairs to the high altar for the prayers.

The Motet

The Church of England doesn't have a monopoly on this form of sacred music, as it is common in Roman Catholic and Lutheran services, among others. The basic requirements are an unaccompanied piece for choir that sets a sacred text. Some of the most beautiful music by Bach, Brahms and Bruckner are motets.

On Friday, the motet is most likely to appear while William and Kate are in the Edward the Confessor chapel behind the high altar signing the register. One of our motet picks was "Ubi caritas" by French composer Maurice Duruflé. We stay at King's College for this one.


The video below from Pope Benedict XVI's visit to London in September gives a good view of Westminster Abbey from the other side of the Quire screen. Kate and her father (and everyone else, for that matter) will be entering through the Great West Door behind the choir. The piece is "If Ye Love Me" by Thomas Tallis. Fans of "The Tudors" will recall Tallis made an appearance in Season 1.


-- Marcia Adair