As Royal wedding fever grips the country, it seems that liturgists are not immune. The last time there was a wedding in the House of Windsor, I do not remember there being any special prayers composed for the occasion, but for the forthcoming celebration, the Church of England has published the following prayer:
God of all grace,
friend and companion,
look in favour on William and Catherine
and all who are made one in marriage.
In your love deepen their love
and strengthen their wills
to keep the promises they will make,
that they may continue
in life-long faithfulness to each other;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is adapted from Common Worship, and perhaps will not please all those who treasure the cadences of Cranmer. In fact it has the ring of the current translation of the Roman Missal about it: worthy, but hardly elevating. But it is nice to see that the prayer emphasises the indissolubility of marriage, and that it includes “all who are made one in marriage”, underlining that what the couple share with the rest of the population.
Despite the fact that you might consider a prayer for the Royal Wedding to be something that could be shared by all Christians, the Catholic Church has come up with its own version,
which, funnily enough, is more fervently royalist in tone than that of the Established Church.
we ask your blessing
upon his Royal Highness, Prince William and Catherine
as they pledge their love for each other in marriage.
May your love unite them through their lives.
Grant them the strength to serve you, our country and the Commonwealth
with integrity and faithfulness.
Through Christ our Lord.
The prayer is more or less for the same thing as the Anglican prayer; but the Catholic prayer goes somewhat over the top in using the words “Royal Highness” which can be applied to William but not to Catherine until she is married. This creates a rather lopsided feel to the couple’s names. And if they are going to use his title, why not use hers, in other words call her “Miss Middleton”, which is her correct designation as her parents’ elder daughter? Or perhaps they thought this a little too old-fashioned? But in that case why use the words “His Royal Highness” and “Prince”?
The Anglicans settle, sensibly, in my view, for a simple “William and Catherine”. Incidentally, it is nice to see the bride being designated by her proper name, a name she shares with two great English Queens, Catherine of Aragon and Catherine of Braganza.
One other niggle: why does the text say “through their lives”? Shouldn’t that be “throughout their lives”?
It is still not clear at this stage what Miss Middleton will be called after her marriage. HRH Princess Catherine would have my vote, but I would not be surprised if it is something like HRH Princess William (which sounds frightful) or HRH The Duchess of some British county or city. Sussex, of all the vacant royal dukedoms, would be my first choice; I think Clarence, wherever that is, would be my last.