Wedding Hymns: 36 Classic Hymns for Your Ceremony
Published date: 26th January 2021 | Author: Hollie Bond
Having a church wedding and looking for the perfect songs to sing during the ceremony? From traditional to more modern options, here are 36 of the best wedding hymns, plus some brilliant options for religious classical music.
When it comes to personalising your religious wedding ceremony, wedding hymns are a really good place to start. Unlike a lot of the compulsory elements that make up a church wedding, you have a lot of choices when it comes to the hymns and can pick songs that reflect your personalities or what you’re feeling about getting married. Church ceremonies are traditionally longer than civil ceremonies and can involve a lot of talking, so wedding hymns are a good way to keep the pace, keep guests involved and inject a bit of fun into the proceedings.
How Many Hymns Should I Choose?
There are some guidelines you’ll want to bear in mind though when it comes to choosing wedding hymns. The first is how many to choose. Unless you want your ceremony to go on for hours (and trust us, this is not a good idea if you want to have happy guests), then the ideal number of hymns at a religious wedding ceremony is two to four. Usually, there is a hymn at the start of the ceremony, just after the vicar of the priest has welcomed everyone to the place of worship.
The second hymn often happens once you’ve signed the register or while you sign it if you prefer. The final hymn takes place at the end of the ceremony before the vicar or priest does the blessing. You can of course speak to your vicar or priest if you want more or less and they will advise you on the best places within the ceremony to fit these in.
How To Choose Your Wedding Hymns
Now you know how many you’re having, it’s time to actually pick them. For some couples who attend church every week, it’s an easy task, as they’ll know the hymn book inside out and definitely have their favourites. If this isn’t you and you’re not a frequent church-goer then you might want to choose wedding hymns that you loved at school or from your childhood (think Give Me Joy In My Heart, Bind Us Together and One More Step Along The World I Go).
Ask Your Family
It can be a lovely touch to ask family members what their favourites hymns are and incorporate these into the ceremony too. And, of course, the vicar or priest or whoever is in charge of the music at the church will have suggestions from the many, many weddings they will have witnessed and presided over.
While every couple wants their day to be unique, choosing quirky hymns that your guests have never heard of before isn’t advisable. If you want the church ringing with the sound of all your guests’ happy voices then it’s best to choose well-known and loved hymns that even non-religious guests will recognise and be able to sing along to.
Tried and Tested
Popular wedding hymns include All Things Bright and Beautiful, Morning Has Broken, Make Me A Channel of Your Peace and Lord of the Dance for a reason. Everyone knows the words and melody, they are full of joy and they will create a truly uplifting feeling at your church ceremony.
Choosing Musicians To Accompany Your Wedding Hymns
Alternatively, if you’re choosing hymns that you love but that aren’t particularly mainstream, budget allowing you could hire a choir. This means guests can also sing the lyrics, but won’t feel awkward or worried about singing the wrong tune because the choir will be plenty loud enough! You can ask your officiant for suggestions of local choirs they have already worked with or search for local gospel choirs online.
Choosing Something Different
Other than a choir, you also need to think about who you want to accompany your hymns. An organist is a classic and traditional choice, but can sound quite sombre (although this does depend on the expertise of the player). If you’re having modern, upbeat hymns you may want to think about a classical guitar player or a pianist. Find brilliant supplier suggestions here.
How To Choose The Right Musicians
Start the hymn choosing process by each writing down your top ten hymns from our list below and then see if you have any that correlate. You should then listen to your top three or four picks to check they fit with the pace, tone and feel you want to create at your service. If you want to be really traditional and create a real sense of occasion you might want to go for slower, classic hymns that aren’t quite so upbeat. Think Love Divine All Loves Excelling and Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer.
Civil Ceremonies And Wedding Hymns
Can I Have Wedding Hymns At A Civil Ceremony?
Unfortunately, in the United Kingdom, you can only have wedding hymns at a religious church wedding. If you’re religious but have opted for a civil ceremony you’ll have to forgo any hymns you’d hoped to sing as civil ceremonies have to be secular in nature in order for them to be legal. In fact, you can’t have any religious terminology or connotations at all in a civil ceremony including in songs you sing, readings and even music that you have playing in the background.
You’ll have to run everything past your Registrar, who has the authority to reject any of your choices. Some can be particularly strict and ban anything that includes religious words like “angels” although these days this is less common. But it’s important to think about the religious origins of any music before you set your heart on it at your civil ceremony – for example, you couldn’t walk down the aisle to Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Schubert’s Ave Maria at a civil ceremony.
Are There Any Flexible Alternatives?
Humanist and independent celebrants are able to be much more flexible when it comes to including religious content, so if you really want to include a wedding hymn and for religion to be a part of your ceremony but aren’t planning on a church wedding, this might be a route to consider.
The Best Wedding Hymns For a Religious Ceremony
We’ve rounded up some of the most well-known and best-loved wedding hymns that’ll really help make your service uplifting and will encourage guests to sing on your big day.
- All Things Bright And Beautiful
- Give Me Joy In My Heart
- Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer
- One More Step Along The World I Go
- Love Divine All Loves Excelling
- Bind Us Together Lord
- Lead Us Heavenly Father, Lead Us
- Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
- How Great Thou Art
- Lord Of The Dance (I Danced In The Morning)
- Lord Of All Hopefulness
- I Vow To Thee My Country
- Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind
- Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven
- Morning Has Broken
- The Lord’s My Shepherd
- Amazing Grace
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness
- Give Me Oil In My Lamp
- Shine, Jesus, Shine
- Tell Out My Soul
- To God Be The Glory
- Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
- How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
- Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord
- God Of All Living
- Immortal, Invisible
- I Watch The Sunrise
- O Jesus I Have Promised
- O Perfect Love
- The King Of Love My Shepherd Is
- Here Is Love, Vast As The Ocean
- Hail Redeemer, King Divine
- How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
- In Christ Alone
The Best Religious Wedding Music For Your Church Service
As well as hymns, at this point in the planning, you might want to have a think about other religious wedding music to include in your ceremony. You may want classical music playing rather than a wedding hymn as you walk down the aisle, during the signing of the register, and also as you leave the church service. Here are some traditional pieces of classical music that work really well at church weddings.
- Wagner’s Bridal Chorus
- Ave Maria by Schubert
- Highland Cathedral by Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
- Pie Jesu adapted by Andrew Lloyd Weber
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S Bach
- Zadok The Priest by Handel
- Hallelujah Chorus by Handel
- Ode To Joy by Beethoven
- Domine Deus by Vivaldi
- The Lord Is My Shepherd by Howard Goodall
- The Lord Bless You And Keep You by John Rutter
- O Sacrum Convivium by Jackson
- Panis Angelicus by Franck