What Are the Best Wedding Hymns For My Ceremony?


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wedding hymns

Q:Hey APW! I could use some help. My partner and I are planning our wedding and have just gotten to the part where we’re starting to put together our ceremony structure. The ceremony is taking place in the church where I grew up, and we’re ready to pick our hymns. Listening to hymns on You Tube means endless sunsets and cheesy arrangements, and there has got to be a better way. APW-ers are the smartest ladies on the web (right?) so I’m really curious what hymns y’all love and used. There are so many good ones, and we have to narrow this down.

If You got married in a church, what hymns did you choose and why? (Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, you name it. All Hymns welcome.)

If you want the APW community’s two cents, send it to QUESTIONS AT APRACTICALWEDDING DOT COM, and we’ll do our best to crowdsource you some answers!

Staff Picks

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  • Amy March

    I like Love Divine All Loves Excelling, For the Beauty of the Earth, To Everything there is a Season, and Blessed Be the Tie that Binds. Methodist.

    • Meg Keene

      Me too.

  • Nope.

    From the Episcopal Hymnal:
    Processional: Simple Gifts
    After the Declaration of Consent: The King of Love my Shepherd Is (Verses 1-3)
    After the readings: Be Thou my Vision (Verses 1 and 2)

    Before the ceremony started, a string quartet played additional hymns, including Shall we Gather at the River, Love Divine, and For the Beauty of the Earth.

  • archaeopteryx

    Can’t go wrong with Ode to Joy!

  • Sara

    I was in LifeTeen choir for years (though I’m currently a lapsed Catholic), which is more contemporary music. But favorite arrangements were One Bread One Body, Lead Me Lord, Shepherd Me Oh God, Christ Be Our Light and Taste and See. But I also just enjoyed singing them more than anything.

  • HCampGust

    We really focused a lot on community in our wedding, which inflected which hymns we chose. Since my husband is an ELCA Lutheran pastor and I’m UCC and went to Divinity School and am considering ordination, that also impacted us. We had “All are Welcome”, “You are Salt for the Earth, O People”, and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore You” (inclusive versions from The New Century Hymnal, or a supplement that my church uses).

  • Rose

    Ooooh, we loved picking our hymns. We used “Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant” and “For the Beauty of the Earth”, both from the New Century Hymnal.

    • Hannah Paige Woodard

      Oh I LOVE For the Beauty… I get chills every time.

    • Kara E

      I sang “Will You Let me be Your Servant” at the wedding of a friend many years ago – who is now very sick with end stage cancer. Her husband is living it out right now. We sang it at church on Sunday and I just sobbed… Especially since we followed it up with one of the songs we sang at my grandfater’s funeral. My husband was under the weather, so it was just me and toddler in the service. Songs are powerful.

  • sara

    We ended up not doing hymns because of the music setup (we were outdoors), but our top choice would have been Great is Thy Faithfulness.

  • chrissyc

    Fun! We did ‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’ as the opening song. It went with the “joy” theme of our readings especially with those strings of “Alleluia!”. (Plus most of our guests are not churchgoers, so I wanted something with lots of quarter notes that would be easy for people to pick up.) We had no other hymns in our Catholic liturgy (not a full Mass). Good luck!

  • NatalieN

    We went for some of the softer hymns, “Great is Thy Faithfullness” and I walked down the aisle to “Be Thou My Vision”

  • K

    My husband and I are both church musicians, so which hymns were sung in our church wedding was important to us. We started with a long list, but managed to narrow it down to Now Thank We All Our God, How Lovely Shines the Morning Star, and Go, My Children with My Blessing. The last hymn has a lovely alternate verse that’s written especially for weddings that we used instead of the original middle verses.

  • Lindsey Post Robinson

    Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Evangelical Christian denomination). It’s one of my all-time favorites

    • AP

      Was just coming to say the same thing!

    • TeaforTwo

      This was my processional!

    • Liz McCarthy

      Would second this, and say that we had friends play it very similarly to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1bSlS6OWTs. We loved it!

    • NSB

      This is SUCH a great choice!

  • emmers

    We didn’t get married in a church, but I processed in to the instrumental of Holy, Holy, Holy.

  • Hannah B

    Catholic- and we used Joncas “I have loved you” for the presentation of the gifts, all creatures of our God and King for communion, Schubert “ave maria” for meditation, and Ode to Joy as recessional. My cantor was a fellow opera singer as were half my bridesmaids so it was a half singing gustily/half sobbing from the front row, lol. And surprisingly, though I was so weepy through my own service, I really latched on to the mass parts and the hymns and managed to sing them and it felt very meaningful. So pick music that means something to you, and when in doubt, trust your pianist!

    • Caitlin

      High five for Catholic classical singers and friends! I am the same and am definitely planning on using the gifts of those friends and possibly ending the mass by starting off the Irish blessing song.

  • I’m not sure if hymns are a specific sub-set of church music or just church-music in general (despite my years and years of participating in Catholic choirs, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that term specifically used to refer to anything in a mass). But the songs we used were Servant Song (for Presentation of the Gifts); One bread, One Body; Ubi Caritas (Hurd) (because I think there are multiple songs with this name); (both for communion/meditation) And Holy is Your Name (for the part where you give flowers to Mary) and then we left to the Canticle of the Turning, which I really loved. I liked it because it was a cheerful and fast and upbeat song and so we got to leave fast and happy. (I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Canticle of the Turning ended up being one of my favorite parts of the ceremony.)
    It was all songs that we knew and sang relatively regularly at church throughout the years so most people sang along (and my husband’s college choir friends lead it all in lovely ways, but they were certainly not the only ones singing.) Also, now I get excited every time I hear those songs at weekly mass. And since people participated in the singing, it was like a normal Mass but a million times better and big community thing and idk it was awesome and I loved it.

    • InTheBurbs

      “And Holy Is Your Name” is one of my favorites – that was our second choice for the Psalm.

  • Hannah K.

    We worked with the music director at our Episcopal church to choose, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (1982 Hymnal #390), “O God, To those Who Here Profess” (#352), and “Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven (#410). My husband and I both sing in our choir, so the choir sang as well (their anthems were “The Peace of God” by Rutter, “Jesu Meine Freude” by Levine, and “The Prayer of St. Francis” by Clausen). Good luck with choosing and happy wedding!

  • Laura Bennett

    I selected “I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord” for our Communion hymn–the final verse seemed particularly appropriate for the occasion:
    Together met, together bound,
    We’ll go our different ways
    And as his people in the world
    We’ll live and speak his praise

  • Kayjayoh

    “We Would be One”, a Unitarian hymn to the tune of Sibelius’ Finlandia is what we picked.

    (Sadly, somehow the “and now you all sing” didn’t get communicated well enough, so it turned out to be a French horn solo. But it was still beautiful.)

    • Kayjayoh

      We would be one as now we join in singing

      our hymn of love, to pledge ourselves anew

      to that high cause of greater understanding

      of who we are, and what in us is true.

      We would be one in living for each other

      to show to all a new community.

      We would be one in building for tomorrow

      a nobler world than we have know today.

      We would be one in searching for that meaning

      which binds our hearts and points us on our way.

      As one, we pledge ourselves to greater service,

      with love and justice, strive to make us free.

    • raccooncity

      I wholeheartedly think french horns need more solo time in general, so I’m for it.

  • Laura Bennett

    How Firm a Foundation is one my family tends to use at funerals, and it was specifically with that resonance that I requested it at my daughter’s baptism. I think it would work equally well at a wedding

  • Felicity

    We had an Episcopal service, but my husband is Methodist so we picked hymns that are in both hymnals. We picked “Love Divine All Loves Excelling” because it is really fitting for a wedding and we picked “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” just because we both love it. Another one I love is “All creatures of our God and King.”

  • InTheBurbs

    We did a full Catholic Mass..everything is from the Gather book – although its one of the older volumes so I won’t include the numbers. Our Old Catholic parish hasn’t switched to the new translations
    Processional: Gather Us In
    Psalm: Psalm 95: If Today You Hear God’s Voice
    Gospel Acclimation: Celtic Alleluia (although I’m partial to Halle, Halle, Halle – but it’s not my wife’s favorite so we compromised)
    Prep: Covenant Hymn
    Service Music: Mass of Remembrance (Haugen)
    Communion: Prayer of Peace (Haas)
    Recessional: Canticle of the Sun

  • Brianna

    wedding psalm 128- blest are those who love you

    • sbc

      yes–we did the marty haugen version at a Jewish/raised Lutheran, now UU wedding and it worked for both of us and our families and the officiant (phew!).

  • Hannah

    I have departed the Church, so my eventual wedding will not include any hymns; but if that weren’t the case, I would love to incorporate these ones into the ceremony:

    ‘Blest Be the Tie That Binds’
    ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ (Shaw)

    Both of these sound especially lovely unaccompanied. Their simplicity, peacefulness, and humility are so moving to me.

  • kcaudad

    Ask your pastor or whoever presides over the ceremony for their recommendations or some commonly used songs. Our pastor gave us 2 or three song options to use at each part, but did say we could pick something else, if we wanted to. We also used songs without lyrics during the ceremony so that they could cut it off mid-song without having to listen to the whole 3 minute song after lighting a candle for just 30 seconds. The sound person at the ceremony location just faded it out after a verse and no one was the wiser.

  • Shannon C.

    I always thought Lord of all hopefulness was a great one:

    Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
    Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares could destroy,
    Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
    Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

    Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
    Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
    Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
    Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

    Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
    Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
    Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
    Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

    Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
    Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
    Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
    Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

  • Shiloh

    We got married last week, and although we had a tough time narrowing it down, these are the three we settled one (with the arrangements we liked – there are some sunsets in the videos but I swear the arrangements are NOT cheesy, lol):

    1. How Great Thou Art (Chris Rice – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc0QVWzCv9k)
    2. Come Thou Fount (Chris Rice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax_NMWLEb6U)
    3. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (Chris Rice – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3OJ-V9U_Y8)

    My favorite was definitely O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, which I hadn’t heard before we started looking for wedding music, but which I now love SO MUCH. In fact, I am going to listen to it again right now. It has a bluesy feel to it that my husband and I both enjoyed. My father, who plays guitar and has the most beautiful voice (I grew up to him singing me to sleep with James Taylor songs), did all the music, and listening to him during the ceremony was one of the two moments that brought me closest to tears…

    The other contenders, which are also all beautiful, we just couldn’t pick them all, were:

    It Is Well With My Soul – verses 1; 3; 6 (Chris Rice – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HLyhEdh92E)

    What Wondrous Love is this – verses 1; 3; 4 (Fernando Ortega – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hj1Y__cYeg)
    Praise to the Lord (Fernando Ortega – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEh7Vt9sxmc)
    Be Thou My Vision

  • TeaforTwo

    We didn’t have congregational singing at our wedding. We didn’t have a church choir to lead it, and a lot of our guests would have been unfamiliar with church singing, and so we skipped it. We hired a brass quartet and I processed in to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and we walked out to the Hallelujah Chorus. (One of my favourite wedding day moments!)

    But I do love classic hymns, and it’s one of my regrets. I echo suggestions elsewhere for For the Beauty of the Earth, All Creatures of our God and King, and Love Divine All Loves Excelling.

    We got married in the biggest snowstorm of the past several years, and I would have loved to sing “All Beautiful the March of Days.” I’ve never heard it at a wedding before, but I think it’s a nice comment on how marriages go through seasons and change, and that’s kind of the point.

  • emmeline

    We are having Blessed Assurance. It is a very hopeful and confident song, and musically far above many other hymns. My sister and my parents both had The Servant Song — by coincidence, my sister didn’t know they had had it — and I considered it, but musically it’s like a dirge so couldn’t handle it. Plus FH likes hymns that are about God. We are doing a ‘first song’ that is about God, and represents our togetherness in that we are singing it together (from this valley, by the civil wars).

  • Helen Yan

    I love this question! We got married in the Episcopal Church, and used only hymns and hymn tunes at our wedding because I love them so. I’d definitely recommend “Love Divine all Loves Excelling.” We didn’t actually use that one in ours, but it’s gorgeous.

    We used “Earth and All Stars” in part because we’re scientists and there’s a line about test tubes, but it’s also a fun one with a really joyful melody as well as words that are entertaining and thought provoking.

    For morning weddings, there’s “morning has broken” which is beautiful (some friends of mine used the cat stevens version for their first dance and I thought that was a great idea). There’s also one that’s a bit lesser known for the evening- “The day thou gavest lord is ended” which has a really beautiful tune that makes me swell up with happiness. We used the tune as our “walking out” music.

  • Mandi P

    My husband’s father & 3 uncles have sung The Lord’s Prayer at each of the cousins’ weddings I’ve been to (including ours)! Such a great family tradition & it has worked well in all the weddings – some that were very religious & some that weren’t. They sang it during some of the wedding ceremonies and as grave before dinner at some receptions. Either way, it’s been great!
    I realize this is more like ‘special music’ than a hymn idea…but just wanted to share the idea!

  • One More Poster

    All Creatures of Our God and King, O God, beyond All Praising, Love Divine All Excelling, Praise my Soul the King of Heaven

  • Nora

    Oh God Beyond All Praising (to the tune of Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter”)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLHmrGWE5zg

  • Scalliwag

    We didn’t have anyone singing because it wasn’t our crowd, but I (the bride) came into ‘I danced in the morning’ played on the piano. It’s the tune others may know as ‘simple gifts.’ I love the song, and seemed appropriate given we had an 1115am cermony. We processed out to Ode to Joy on the organ, with the church bells playing and it was lovely. They worked well because the music was familar, even for non-church goers but was meaningful.

  • annlynn

    We had six hymns all sung by the congregation, mostly acapella and in 4 part harmony because that’s how Mennonite’s roll. Heart With Loving Heart United, Will You Let Me Be Your Servant? For the Beauty of The Earth and Praise God (606/118) because, Mennonite.

    • Kara Davies

      Because 4 part harmony. Ftw!

  • Gretchen

    Did not get married in a Church, but did have an interfaith ceremony (Jewish and UCC) officiated by a Christian minister. We used “Spirit of Life” from the UU hymnal #123. I grew up UU and it was meaningful for me from that stand point, but also accessible for pretty much everyone in the congregation from my Evangelical aunt to atheist/Jewish inlaws.

  • K

    already mentioned but ‘be thou my vision’ and ‘how great thou art’.
    we also had ‘ in christ alone’

    • RoseTyler

      I love “be thou my vision”

  • Sara

    Our wedding is in two weeks. We’re having the shortened Catholic ceremony between a Catholic and non-baptized partner, so we don’t get to pick as many songs as if we were having the full mass, but I am still really excited about the songs we picked because the choir from the church I grew up in is coming to sing for us.

    We chose:

    Preludes:
    Set Me as a Seal (this version is so pretty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkK1agAg8Ps)

    Wherever You Go
    Ave Maria
    Endless is your Love

    Processional:
    Ave Maria (Instrumentals Only)

    Responsorial:
    I Have Loved You

    Sign of Peace:
    Benediction

    Recessional:
    Canticle of the Sun

  • NSB

    I have heard “In Christ Alone” played at quite a few weddings. My aunt played it for her processional, and it was beautiful. Amazing Grace is always a good choice. (Especially the Chris Tomlin version!) It Is Well is also gorgeous, even though the back story is incredibly sad.

  • RoseTyler

    I’m loving “it is well with my soul” these days!

  • Lisa

    We had a full Catholic mass as well, and the hymns we used were: “For the Beauty of the Earth” (bridal entrance), “Taste and See” (psalm), Celtic Hallelujah, “The Servant Song” (unity candle), “You are Mine” (Communion), “Ave Maria” by Schubert (Prayer to the Blessed Virgin).

  • Lee Tarbet

    My recessional hymn was Now Thank We All Our God. A good friend recessed to the Hallelujah Chorus.