This Saturday, I am thrilled and honored (and a little bit nervous) to perform in a good friend’s wedding ceremony. I will be singing the Peter, Paul & Mary classic, “The Wedding Song (There is Love)”. And, no, I will not be playing the mandolin.
My friend got the idea for me to sing because he remembered when I crooned for my wife at our wedding reception in 2001 (Frank Sinatra’s “It Had to be You”). He has also heard me perform numerous times with my punk/alt-country rock band, which is currently operating under the name of NewsHole. When choosing a song for his wedding, my friend made it very clear that anything by The Stooges or Social Distortion was off the table. He didn’t even like my suggestion to sing a soulful version of Springsteen’s “Racin’ in the Streets.” Too grim for a wedding, he said.My friend consulted his incredibly trusting and brave fiancée, who to this date has still never heard me sing, and they decided on “The Wedding Song.” I was a little skeptical. I had, of course, heard the song played and performed at other weddings, but I knew very little about it. I didn’t even know its origin as a Peter, Paul & Mary song.
After playing it a few times on YouTube, however, I felt more comfortable. The song’s melody is well within my baritone vocal range, so it’s not very hard to sing. The tricky part has been memorizing the lofty lyrics (“As it was in the beginning, is now until the end…”). Apparently, Noel Paul Stookey had trouble with the words as well. He was asked by his band mate Peter Yarrow to perform an original composition at Yarrow’s wedding in 1969. Stookey asked God for guidance in writing the song, and some of the lyrics are scripture from Matthew 18:20 and Genesis 2:24. Stookey, in fact, believed he shouldn’t take credit for the song, so he set up a public domain foundation that has received royalties from “The Wedding Song” and distributed the money to charities since 1971. Can you imagine the Rolling Stones doing that with one of their biggest hits?
With that kind of history, I have a much greater appreciation for the song. I want to competently convey its beautiful message of love, commitment and hope to my friends’ wedding. I am flattered and touched that they have shown such faith in me to not mess up the ultimate wedding song.
Image stolen from Wikipedia.