16 March 2021

Megh' an' Arry: that Interview (1)

There has been some puzzlement about the poor young man's claim that these two were "married" three days before their "Wedding".

The key here is the growth ... is it an Americanism?? ... of a desire on the part of couple to compose their own vows. These will be more authentic because they will express the real intentions and immense eternal love of the passionate couple ... a totally peerless love unknown to all previous human history and far transcending mere dusty old legal formulae. They will arise from the living, beating, loving hearts of the couple.

Some years ago now, a priest (Anglican) told me about a wedding he had recently solemnised. When they got to the vows (which they had of course rehearsed at the rehearsal) the blokegroom took out a bit of paper and said "OK, Vicar, we composed our own vows instead". The Officiant eventually had to tell them that he was going to go back to the vestry while they decided whether they were prepared  to continue with the forms prescribed by Law ... "And if you don't come and give me a positive answer within five minutes, I'm off back to the Vicarage. And I shall keep the fees."

Clearly, Megh'an'Arry had written their own 'authentic' and very beautiful vows. Archbishop Oilby couldn't agree to substitute them for the forms laid down in Law, but to keep the Couple happy and authentic, he agreed to let them exchange their home-made and unique vows privately  before the "Wedding" ... in the "back yard" of Kensington Palace. This he described to the Meejah as being "pastoral".

No way was that a Marriage: it was not covered by the canonical dispensations issued by the authority of the Archbishop himself (!) ... and, in any case, there were no witnesses ("Just the three of us"!).

My hypothesis is confirmed by the reported detail that these 'Vows' were framed and now "hang on the wall". 

It is not reported whether these vows are the same as those composed by Her Grace the Duchess the last time she got married. We liturgical historians would very much like to be able to analyse these evolving formulae.


I gather that, nowadays, in some places rites are devised to "'accompany" the "end" of a "failed" "Marriage". 

The Authentic DIY Vows could have a central role in this meaningful ritual encounter. The couple, accompanied by their unique adopted hens, could ceremonially tear the vows in half; then they could have a Last Authentic Squabble about who was to keep the frame; then the Minister could say to the ex-bride "You may now kick the ex-bridegroom in the groin"; and they could all live happily ever after in uniquely distanced parts of California.

To be continued.



Éamonn said...

In an effort at that level of authenticity, I wanted to use the vows in Edmund Lacy's Exeter Pontifical: "Ich N. take ye N. to my weddyd hosebound, to haven and to holden fro yys day forward, for betre, for wors, for rycher, for porer, in sekenesse, and in helthe, to be boneyre and buxom in bedde and at boorde, tyl deth us departe, yf holychurch hyt wol ordeyne, and ther to I plyzth my trewthe". My lady wife objected and insisted that we use the current official formulation instead. At least I tried!

Tom said...

"a Last Authentic Squabble"- that made my day! Thank you, Father.

Compton Pauncefoot said...

For much the same reason Father I have always had strong reservations about the 'renewal' of vows. A vow is, surely, a vow? Otherwise, one could surely have a ceremony for the 'removal' of vows?
If there were indeed 'vows' on a date before the marriage at Windsor, I wonder if someone vowed to obey someone else and, if so, who vowed to whom?

E sapelion said...

Does the Church take a view about this? Neither party is a Catholic, so surely they are free to exchange vows with or without witnesses in any form meaningful to them. In civil law they have to use the prescribed form of words, but in both France and Italy it is neccessary to have separate civil and a religious ceremonies.

And on a different hobby horse - am I right in thinking that the fourth word in the marriage vow is þe, I am sure the later phrase is "fro þys day forward". And "I plyȝth my trewth". Now that Unicode has freed us from the compositors limited selection of letter forms it is high time we returned to more accurate orthography.

Shaun Davies said...

Is the renewal of vows (for example at a wedding anniversary; they do special services now in Westminster Cathedral for different anniversary years) a completely modern idea or is there some historic precedent ?
I have been blissfully and happily for thirty-nine years and we have never at any time had any desire to do any kind of renewal. Vows just are.

jaykay said...

Compton Pauncefoot: but do we not (or did we not, in happier pre-viral times) renew Baptismal vows annually? Still, I'm sure your idea of "removal" of vows could be accommodated in a revision of the Book of Feelings...ooops... Blessings.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Dear Father, thank you. I had missed the fact that the Megurn had stated that there were no witnesses. So not even a marriage in the most secular or pagan understanding! Damned by her own words (inter alia!). How delightfully absurd these poor (not so) young people are.

Dear Don Pauncefoot. In your wise reservations you share ground with our Sovereign Lady, who firmly refused to “renew” her lifelong Coronation vows. (Or are they eternal, like the sacred priesthood? Perhaps only marriage vows are lifelong. Chance would be fine thing nowadays.)

davidmorourke said...

DearJosephus Muris Saliensis. The Queen didn't make any vows at her Coronation. She swore the Coronation Oath with Bible and all and I've never heard of anyone renewing an oath in which one calls upon God to be one's witness. But even had she had only taken a vow why would she renew it. Would the original vow be worn out?

Grant Milburn said...

Couples who desire something more exuberant, more extravagant and also more expressive of their endless love than the sober forms prescribed by law and liturgical tradition should recite at their reception the 24 stanzas of Spenser's Epithalamion:


Open the temple gates unto my love,
Open them wide that she may enter in,
And all the postes adorne as doth behove,
And all the pillours deck with girlands trim,
For to recyve this Saynt with honour dew,
That commeth in to you.
With trembling steps and humble reverence,
She commeth in, before th'almighties vew:
Of her ye virgins learne obedience,
When so ye come into those holy places,
To humble your proud faces;
Bring her up to th'high altar that she may,
The sacred ceremonies there partake,
The which do endlesse matrimony make,
And let the roring Organs loudly play
The praises of the Lord in lively notes,
The whiles with hollow throates
The Choristers the joyous Antheme sing,
That al the woods may answere and their eccho ring.

Now al is done; bring home the bride againe,
Bring home the triumph of our victory,
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine,
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyfull day then this,
Whom heaven would heape with blis.
Make feast therefore now all this live long day,
This day for ever to me holy is,
Poure out the wine without restraint or stay,
Poure not by cups, but by the belly full,
Poure out to all that wull,
And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine,
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall.
Crowne ye God Bacchus with a coronall,
And Hymen also crowne with wreathes of vine,
And let the Graces daunce unto the rest;
For they can doo it best:
The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing,
To which the woods shal answer and theyr eccho ring.


JoeTownsend said...

An Anglican priest raised the question of which of the two marriages is legal. The good ole CofE, being part of the legal framework is a "bit of a stickler" in important social contracts. The transfer of wealth, titles and social positions are not treated lightly. I doubt that the malarky in the garden was in any sense a legal marriage even by modern secular standards, but that it took place is worrisome, (not for me, I am impartial!),as it opens up the distinct possiblity of "dump the bird, grab the kids and pay her off". A solution of sorts that Catherine of Aragon was only too familiar with.

Jhayes said...

Éamonn, but you did follow the rubrics mentioned by Barnes in the Preface to his 1847 Transcription?

“In the Marriage Ceremony the contract was made, according to the ancient custom of England, publicly, at the Church door; after which the married couple was led towards the Altar; and at the Sanctus of the Mass four clerks, in surplices, held the nuptial veil over them until the solemn benediction was pronounced by the celebrant.”


E. sapelion, on that same page, Barnes says that the orthography has been maintained.

“It is a small folio of 210 pages, on vellum, for the most part fairly written, though not all by the same hand, but has numerous mistakes, which we have endeavoured to rectify, and some manifest omissions of words, which we have deemed it necessary to supply. The orthography, all through, we have thought expedient to retain.”

Lacy was Bishop of Exeter from 1420 to 1455. I haven’t seen the original manuscript but It’s my understanding that thorn had mostly disappeared from Middle English by then.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Chap called David Morourke seems to want to pick an argument when it seems we agree. Why do people do this on the internet? Oaths and vows the same in God’s eyes, and both are permanent unless (as in the case of simple vows) it says so.

E sapelion said...

Jhayes - I am quite sure that in "fro yys day forward" what is written "yys" would have been pronounced just like "this". There may be a sense in which þ disappeared but it persisted, particularly in abbreviations at least into the 19th century. I don't currently have access, but I have seen in manuscripts the common use of y with a superscript letter to denote 'the' 'that' and even 'their'. Whether these writers have a letter form distinguishing the two uses of y, I do not recall.