Best organ compositions for wedding? (Mollie)

Do any of you musical experts out there have any recommendations for beautiful organ compositions on the occasion of a wedding? Bach would be great but if you have any other recommendations, I’d be most appreciative.


Best organ compositions for wedding? (Mollie) — 15 Comments

  1. There’s a little pamphlet/booklet by Regina Fryxell called “Wedding Music” (1956) that has a nice selection of choral and instrumental pieces–lots of Bach, but there are many others.

  2. Trumpet Voluntary — Jeremiah Clarke (sometimes attributed to Henry Purcell)
    Trumpet Tune — Purcell
    Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring — Bach
    Psalm XIX — Marcello
    Canon — Pachelbel
    Hornpipe (from Water Music) — Handel
    Now Thank We All Our God — various arrangements & composers
    David Johnson’s collection of Toccatas

    (… that’s all I could come up with off the top of my head at this time of the night …)

  3. CPH’s Parish Organist Wedding Music

    This can help you fill in some of the gaps. Paul Manz’s Jesus Lead Thou On would be good if you need something more meditative.

    Any version of “Now Thank We All Our God” is good, but I am fond of Sigfried Karg-Elert’s setting. Great for the recessional. It is not in the above mentioned volume, though.

  4. One way to go, Mollie, is to look at the hymns being sung in the wedding, which are hopefully set to German chorale tunes. Then find the Bach pieces composed on those tunes to use for the processional and recessional. A favorite of mine for weddings is Wachet auf. Nun danket alle Gott was also proposed above. But you really have a lot of options.

  5. I’d recommend the setting of “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” by Thomas Gieschen (makes a great processional, I think–a nice contrast to the usual trumpet tunes and other familiar wedding favorites). The congregation might then sing this hymn at some point during the service.

    Dan Zager
    Eastman School of Music

  6. What do people think would be good recessional pieces for an organist of average ability? I’m in the wedding planning procress. Thanks.


  7. Bethany, I have no idea how difficult a piece it is to play, but I’ve heard “Sheep May Safely Graze” as a recessional and thought it wonderfully appropriate.

    Just my 0.25 Euro!

  8. We used Bach’s Jig Fugue (BWV 577) as a recessional. Not very dignified but joyous and a little out of the ordinary.

  9. Bethany: Many of our LSB hymns make great recessionals, with a full organ, played just as they appear in the hymnal.
    Crown Him With Many Crowns (LSB 525) is triumphant and dignified.
    Also, The Church’s One Foundation (LSB 644), the same very familiar tune used in a wedding hymn–#858–in LSB.
    And #862, Oh, Blest the House, can become a perfect march, as can Thy Strong Word, #578 (though in a minor key…)
    And Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (#700).
    Wouldn’t it be a nice touch to have the congregation singing one of these hymns as the party recesses? If I had it to do over….
    Btw, my husband and I were married within the divine service on a Sunday morning. It was wonderful, the congregation swollen with wedding guests, but great onus on the pastor, who had to prepare 2 sermons for the day! I highly recommend it to all who contemplate a wedding.

  10. Processional: Grande Choeur Dialogue by Gigout

    God of Grace (Cum Ronda) by Paul Manz
    Praise to the Lord the Almighty, Toccata, by Michael Burkhardt
    Widor Toccata from the 5th Symphony Recessional, Charles Widor
    Fanfare by Nicholas Jacques Lemmens
    Sinfonia to ‘Wir danken dir, Gott’ by J.S. Bach

    As suggested by my musically better half.

  11. I’d pick Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach) for the prelude, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for the communion, and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling for the first hymn after “I now pronounce you….” In fact, I did pick these for my own wedding (as well as the Clarke trumpet voluntary).

  12. At my wedding we processed LSB 860, Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing, set to HYFRYDOL. We recessed to another hymn, LSB 790, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Almost two years on, I am still happy with my selections and can’t imagine having done it any other way. Of course, both sides of our large families are very robust Lutheran singers, AND we had a choir and a brass quintet. Couldn’t waste all that on organ-only music!

  13. Dear Mollie,

    I would first recommend to the organist involved that they obtain the current issue of the CPH Music Catalog (2009-10). Their web-site is:

    Any of the compositions available from CPH are totally appropriate, and most are beautiful compositions too. The limiting factor is the ability of the organist. You will probably get a better result, musically, if you stick to the organist’s repertoire. If he/she has offered to work up a new piece just for the wedding, and the bride/groom makes a selection that he/she agrees to, then it is appropriate to add 50% to the standard compensation – unless the organist can sight-read the most difficult literature (e.g., Bach Trio Sonatas, Vierne, Messiaen).

    The standard and still very usable collection for LCMS organists is “Wedding Music I” and “Wedding Music II” both from CPH. The pieces are of medium difficulty. The “Parish Organist, Part IX, Weddings” is also from CPH and good, with easy to medium difficulty pieces. Of these three collections, I have used “Wedding Music I” most frequently.

    One book I have used, which is not available from CPH, is the “Oxford Book of Organ Wedding Music.” If I brought just one collection to the organ bench for a wedding, this would be it. My copy is in storage, so I am not sure that is the title. It was published first about 1990. The cover is white, with a photo inset on the cover of a French or English Gothic cathedral with organ. Pieces are in range of difficulty: medium to medium-difficult. It includes many pieces not available from CPH. Any church organist with medium ability should own a copy, if they don’t already. It should be available from Oxford University Press.

    Yours in Christ,
    Martin R. Noland of Saint Louis

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