Best Catholic Wedding Songs

What are the best songs for a Catholic wedding ceremony?

Catholic Wedding Ceremony Songs

The most important thing to do when planning music for a Catholic wedding ceremony is to consult with your local diocese. They will be able to give you guidelines as to what music is acceptable. Since the Catholic church allows some decisions about music played during Catholic ceremonies, it is better to ask first rather than assume and be sorry later. We have listed a few questions you will want to ask.

Can we use secular music?

According to Music in Catholic Worship, “Liturgical music should always express the Paschal Mystery theme (MCW #23). Secular songs are not appropriate at any time during the sacramental rites. The function of liturgical music is ministerial; it must serve and never dominate. Music should assist the assembled believers to express and share the gift of faith that is within them and to nourish and strengthen their interior commitment of faith (MCW #82).”

For that reason, most Catholic churches will not allow secular music during the wedding ceremony. Some will accept it as part of the prelude, others will not. Then again, a few churches have begun to allow some secular music during weddings. This dictate will not affect the type of music played at the reception.

Can we use recorded music?

Again, this answer will vary from church to church. According to Liturgical Music Today, “the liturgy is a complexus of signs expressed by living human beings.” As such, voices and instruments of the gathered assembly should not be replaced by recorded music. However, some churches will allow recorded music during the prelude and postlude. Again, this dictate will not affect the type of music played at the reception.

Can we use Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” or Mendelsshon’s “Wedding March?

These two songs have caused such a debate and so controversial that it is now up to the local Ordinary (head of the diocese) whether or not they can be used. In the 1930s, these pieces were placed on the black list by the Society of Saint Gregory. We have seen every possible excuse as to why they are forbidden including:

  1. This instrumental piece originated from theatrical, operatic repertoire and are connected to stories of fantasy, murder, sex, and other pagan elements.
  2. This secular opera portrays marriage in a way that differs from the Church’s understanding.
  3. The impression created by this piece is that the focus is on the bride alone.

What hymns are recommended?

The Catholic church strong believe that weddings should encourage participation of the guests. Therefore, the majority of music should be sung by all attending, not by a soloist.

Can we include the Unity Candle as part of our ceremony?

This is another item that varies from church to church. Some dioceses believe that this ritual is a “commercial product that is not a part of the Church’s rite of marriage” and it “detracts from the flow of the rich symbolism in the marriage rite.” Of course, other churches allow it.

Can we hire our own musician or organist for the ceremony?

Many parishes have contractual arrangements with an organist and/or parish musicians. It is best to consult with the priest before making any arrangements.

Once you have gotten these issues out of the way, you can begin planning the music for the ceremony. There are several segments during a Catholic wedding that you will need to choose music for including:

  • Prelude: The period when guests are being seated before the ceremony begins.
  • Processional: The processional is defined as the period when family members, the bridal party, and the bride enter the church and take their places. This may be split into processional of the bridesmaids and processional of the bride.
  • Gathering with Congregation: An optional segment that occurs after the wedding party is in place. After the entrance procession, couples may choose to sing a gathering song to unite the assembly in prayer.
  • Responsorial Psalm: The Psalm follows the first (Old Testament) reading, and is led by the cantor. The cantor intones the refrain, the assembly repeats it, and the cantor sings the verses. It is important that the text be a psalm; a solo or other sacred song may not be used.
  • Preparation of Gifts: If your ceremony is taking place during Mass, then you may want to select a piece to be sung by the assembly or a soloist when the bread and wine are brought forward and placed on the altar. This may also be when monetary offerings are collected for a local food pantry or charity, which is optional. Bear in mind that without a collection, the time is short, so select a piece that can be ended easily.
  • Offertory: The offertory, also known as the presentation of gifts, is the rite by which the bread and wine are presented (offered) to God before they are consecrated and the prayers that accompany it.
  • Communion Song: The Communion Song begins as the bishop or priest receives communion and continues throughout the communion procession. When the last person in the procession receives communion, the song should begin to wind down.
  • Communion Mediation: After communion there should be an appropriate period of silence, after which the entire assembly may sing a hymn of praise or a psalm. It is appropriate for instrumental music to be played during this moment of silence.
  • Presentation of Gifts to Mary or the Holy Family: In some Catholic ceremonies, the bride places flowers on the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary and offers a prayer. This tradition has expanded to offering a gift to both Mary and Joseph. This is usually done after communion before the final blessing; however, it can also be done before or after the ceremony.
  • Recessional: The recessional is defined as the time when the bride and groom, followed by the bridal party and family members, leave the church after the ceremony.
  • Postlude: The postlude is the time during which the rest of the guests leave the church.

We have listed some of the best songs for each of these sections below. Please note, we have not included any secular songs in our list for two reasons: because they are not usually allowed at Catholic ceremonies and because they can be found on our wedding song pages. For your convenience, we have compiled the songs into playlists, making it easy for you to listen to samples or purchase songs.A detailed listing of the songs is provided below each playlist.

Prelude & Postlude Songs

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  1. “Air” from Water Music by Georg Friedrich Handel
    Traditional, classical piece that can be used for the prelude or the bridal party’s processional
  2. “Arioso” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  3. “Bist du bei mir” (You are with me or Be Thou with Me) from Anna Magdalena Notenbuch by Johann Sebastian Bach
  4. “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel
  5. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  6. Vesperae solennes de confessore in C, K.339, “Laudate Dominum” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  7. “Rondeau” by Jean-Joseph Mouret
  8. “The Gift of Love” (Water Is Wide) by Hopson

 

Processional Songs

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  1. “Air” from Water Music by George Friedrich Handel
    Traditional, classical piece that can be used for the prelude or the bridal party’s processional
  2. “Allegro Maestoso” from Water Music by George Friedrich Handel
  3. “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel
    Especially good for bridesmaids.
  4. “Eine Klein Nachtmusik,” Serenade No. 13 in G major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  5. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  6. “Overture from Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 351 by George Frideric Handel
    Lengthy song good for processional or the recesssional.
  7. “Prelude To Te Deum” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
  8. “Prince of Denmark’s March” (Trumpet Voluntary in D major) by Jeremiah Clarke
  9. “Rondeau” by Jean-Joseph Mouret
  10. “Sheep May Safely Graze” (“Was mir behagt”), Cantata No. 208, by Johann Sebastian Bach
  11. “Trumpet Tune in D” by Henry Purcell
  12. “Trumpet Tune” by John Stanley

 

Gathering With Congregation Songs

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Responsorial Psalm Songs

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  1. “Lord of all Hopefulness”
  2. “The Lord is Kind and Merciful”
  3. “The Lord is My Shepherd”
  4. “This is the Day”
  5. “You are Mine”

 

Preparation of Gifts and Offeratory Songs

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  1. “The Gift of Love” (Water Is Wide) by Hopson
  2. “How Great Thou Art” performed by Martina McBride, Alan Jackson, Elvis Presley, and others
  3. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  4. “Let There Be Peace on Earth” performed by Vince & Jenny Gill
  5. “Panis Angelicus” (O God Of Life) performed by Josh Groben

 

Communion and Communion Meditation Songs

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  1. “Bist du bei mir” (You are with me or Be Thou with Me) from Anna Magdalena Notenbuch by Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. “A Gaelic Blessing” by John Rutter
  3. “Gift of Finest Wheat” by Kreutz
  4. “Here I Am Lord” by Schutte
  5. “How Great Thou Art” performed by Carrie Underwood
  6. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  7. “Let There Be Peace on Earth” performed by Vince & Jenny Gill
  8. “On Eagles Wings” performed by Michael Crawford
  9. “One Bread, One Body”
  10. “Panis Angelicus” (O God Of Life) performed by Josh Groben
  11. “Prayer Of St. Francis” performed by Sarah McLachlan
  12. “Taste and See”
  13. “The Gift of Love” (Water Is Wide) by Hopson
  14. Vesperae solennes de confessore in C, K.339, “Laudate Dominum” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

Presentation of Gifts Songs

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  1. “Ave Maria” by Charles Gounod or Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert
  3. “The Gift of Love” (Water Is Wide) by Hopson

 

Best Recessional Songs

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  1. “Allegro Maestoso” from Water Music by George Friedrich Handel
  2. “Hornpipe” from Water Music Suite by Georg Friedrich Handel
    Also known as Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 7; it is a very nice choice for the bride’s processional or the recessional.
  3. “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You” by Ludwig van Beethoven
  4. “La Rejouissance” from Royal Fireworks Music by George Frideric Handel
    A nice piece that is too short to use except for the bride’s processional or the recessional.
  5. “Ode To Joy” (from The Ninth Symphony) by Ludwig van Beethoven
  6. “Prince of Denmark’s March” (Trumpet Voluntary in D major) by Jeremiah Clarke
  7. “Rondeau” by Jean-Joseph Mouret
  8. The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi - Consider using “Spring” from this piece
  9. “Toccata from Organ Symphony No. 5″ performed by Charles-Marie Widor
  10. “Trumpet Tune in D Major” performed by Jeremiah Clarke
  11. “Tuba Tune” by Craig Sellar Lang - Despite the name, this lively song is actually played on an organ.

 

 

 

 

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