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Dean and Chapter Commission Anthem for Royal Wedding Couple

Thursday, 28th April 2011

Dean and Chapter Commission Anthem for Royal Wedding Couple

A specially commissioned anthem will be premiered at the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales with Miss Catherine Middleton, it has been announced today.

The anthem has been written by John Rutter, one of the most widely-performed composers in the world. Dr Rutter was approached by the Abbey after the couple expressed a fondness for other works by the composer. His four-and-a half-minute piece draws on words taken from five different Psalms.

James O’Donnell, Westminster Abbey’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, said:

The Choir is particularly excited about this part of the Service. The music is typical of John Rutter’s tuneful and approachable style and we are sure the anthem will make a memorable contribution to the day.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said:

The Abbey wanted to arrange a fresh composition for Prince William and Miss Middleton to mark their special day, while also commissioning a work that could be enjoyed in churches across the country and the world. We are thrilled with John Rutter’s composition and hope that it becomes part of the enduring legacy of this joyous occasion.

In addition to the Choir of Westminster Abbey, the Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, will also sing at the service. The choirs are complemented by the London Chamber Orchestra, the Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, and State Trumpeters of The Household Cavalry.

The other choral music for the service includes two works by Hubert Parry and a motet by the young composer Paul Mealor. In addition there are three well-known hymns in which the congregation will join.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey is made up of 20 boys, all of whom attend the Abbey’s dedicated residential Choir School, and 12 professional adult singers, known as Lay Vicars. The Abbey’s Music Department began preparations for the wedding as soon as it was confirmed that the service would take place in the Abbey, and in the last month the Choir has been preparing thoroughly for the Wedding, in addition to singing all the daily choral services in the Abbey, especially over Holy Week and Easter.

While the Royal Wedding has naturally attracted huge interest, the service itself follows the same format used by couples in parish churches across the country for their own special day.

The marriage service will be conducted according to the Church of England’s 'First Series of Alternative Services'. These services were written in 1928 as the first revision of the 1662 Prayer Book, to reflect a more contemporary understanding of the Christian faith, and were legally authorised for use in public worship in 1966.

Couples marrying in the Church of England can – subject to discussion with the clergyperson leading the service – choose from this version, the more traditional 1662 version, or the modern ‘Common Worship’ version, authorised in 2000.

The ‘First Series’ or ‘Series One’ service strikes a balance between the poetic language of Cranmer’s Prayer Book – one of the cornerstones of English liturgy – with a more contemporary understanding of the nature of marriage. For instance, the service allows for the bride to decide whether she will include the pledge to ‘obey’ her husband.

It could be said that the ‘Series One’ service reflects the careful blend of tradition and modernity that characterises the relationship being formalised and celebrated at the service.

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