The bride: " I will."
After this, the Seven Benedictions are said, the seventh including the prayer for the return of joy and gladness to the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, so familiar in its variants to the Jews among their prayers.
Having drunk the wine out of the same glass, handed by the parents, and done so twice, the bridegroom throws it down, breaking it. This may possibly bear some relation to the breaking of a cane across his knee by a youth in Raphael's famous picture, "The Sponzalizia." The Chief Rabbi thinks that it may symbolise the variety and fragility, as of glass, of all earthly hopes without love. Also that the twice sharing of the wine typifies that the wedded couple shall share each other's joys and halve each other's cares. The service ends with the Benediction.
The following is an " abstract of the Kesubah, the covenant of marriage.
" On the ------- day of the week, the ------day of the month -------, in the year 56 a.m., corresponding to the-------of-------19 - , the holy covenant of marriage was entered into, in London, between the bridegrcom -------and his bride ------"The said bridegroom made the following declaration to his bride:
"'be thou my wife according to the Law of Moses and of Israel. I faithfully promise that I will be a true husband unto thee. I will honour and cherish thee; I will work for thee; I will protect and support thee; and will provide all that is necessary for thy due sustenance, even as it beseemeth a Jewish husband to do. I also take upon myself all such further obligations for thy maintenance during thy lifetime as are prescribed by our religious statute.'
"And the said bride has plighted her troth unto him, in affection and with sincerity, and has thus taken upon herself the fulfilment of all the duties incumbent upon a Jewish wife. This covenant of marriage was duly executed and witnessed this day according to the usage of Israel."
The Greek Church requires a certificate resembling a licence, or, in its stead, that banns shall be published on three successive Sundays after the Mass, precautions necessary to ascertain that no consanguinity exists between the pair. Marriage with a non-christian is not permitted. Marriage is not allowed in Lent. It is customary for the bride and bridegroom to confess and receive the Holy Communion before being married.
The first part of the ceremony is the espousals, followed immediately after by the coronation. Walking before their parents, paranymphs, and friends, the couple to be married enter the church and stand before a table in the nave, near the sanctuary. The rings and crowns are on the Book of the Gospels, which lies upon the table. Behind it stands the priest, wearing the sacred vestments. He tells the couple to put their right hands upon the Gospel, and, handing each a lighted taper, says, first to the man, afterwards to the woman, addressing each by the Christian name and referring to them by it: "Wilt thou have ------ to be thy lawful wife, and promise her fidelity, love, help, and Kind treatment all thy life? "
The man answers: "I will have her, and I promise."
The woman, when addressed, replies in similar terms.
In some places this exchange of vows takes place privately, in the presence of the parents and relations, and not in the church.
In the ceremony of the espousals the Eastern Church makes use of two rings. The priest blesses them and gives one to the bridegroom, the other to the bride. The rings are put on the fourth finger of the right hand because the right side is that of honour in Holy Scripture. The Church has also admitted them in the ceremony because the ring in the sacred writings is considered as a pledge of authority, fidelity, and affection. The ancient usage was for the man to receive a gold ring of the woman and the woman a silver one of the man. This is observed still in many parts of the East at. the ceremony, when the rings offered to the priest for blessing are the one gold and the other silver, and he gives the gold one to the bridegroom, the silver to the bride.
In the ceremony of matrimonial coronation the Eastern Church makes use of crowns. In all ages the crown has been a symbol of regal dignity, a prize bestowed at the public games on the victors, as a reward of righteousness, and as an ornament and honour. Therefore the Church adopts the crowns to honour the purity of Christian marriage.
These crowns are usually made of everlasting flowers, but sometimes formed of twigs of vine or olive-trees wrapped the one in gold and the other in silver paper in order to represent a golden and a silver crown. In Russia the churches have crowns of silver or other metal kept for the purpose. The dignity of the matrimonial coronation is shown when the priest, taking off the crowns, addresses the newly married as king and queen respectively, saying: "Be thou magnified, O bridegroom," and "Thou, O bride, be magnified," etc.
The couple to be married are called neonymphs, and the bridesmen are paranymphs. These may be one or many. Their duty is to represent the father, to exchange the crowns and rings between the two, and. after the marriage, to teach the neonymphs sobriety, concord, and good union. In the Rubric they are called sponsors or godfathers. When the neonymphs, a little before the putting on of the crowns, join the little fingers of their right hands, the paranymphs unite them.
The office of the espousals includes a beautiful liturgy of supplication. The priest signs the heads of the pair with the rings three times, and gives them lighted tapers, standing in the sanctuary or presbytery while he does so.
The office of the coronation begins with a psalm sung by the priest, preceding the couple, who advance, holding lighted tapers. The congregation responds at the end of each verse. This is followed by a brief litany, one phrase of which runs:
' That they may be joyful in seeing sons and daughters, let us supplicate the Lord." After many prayers, the priest joins their right hands and crowns the bridegroom, saying: "The servant of God (here the name) is crowned for the handmaid of God (her name here) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." Then he crowns the bride, with similar words. This ceremony is followed by many prayers, lessons from the New Testament, and another litany.
The Loosening of the Crowns
A cup of wine is then brought, which the priest blesses and hands to the couple three times, first to the man, then to the woman, and immediately after taking them turns with them in the form of a circle while the paranymphs hold the crowns behind. The priest and people then chant a few* verses (the Troparia), and afterwards the celebrant takes off the bridegroom's crown, blessing him as he does so, then takes the bride's crown from her head, blessing her also. The service closes with a final blessing and dismissal.
Eight days later the loosening or dissolving of the crowns may be performed in the church or in the home of the newly married couple. It is a blessing of their union and a prayer that it may continue unbroken.
In some parts of the East the priest ties the crowns together with a handkerchief, the paranymphs loose them and bind them together again with a blue or red ribbon, and they are put in the bedroom. This service is an extremely short one.
Among the Society of Friends
The practice among Friends with regard to marriages is that at a meeting of worship, held at some hour between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., the parties concerned sit facing the meeting, generally on the lower bench (otherwise occupied by elders), their respective parents seated on either side. Beyond them sit the bridesmaids. The meeting is usually addressed by some Friend, or prayer is offered. Then, when the seasonable moment seems to have arrived, the two stand up, and, taking each other by the hand, declare "in an audible and solemn manner," to the following effect - the man first, the bride after him:
"Friends, I take this, my friend, C D, to be my wife, promising, through Divine assistance, to be unto her a loving and faithful husband until it shall please the Lord by death to separate us."
The registrar must be present in order that the marriage may be a legal one. A certificate is then drawn up, giving the names and dwelling-place of the married couple, the names a d addresses of their parents, and certifying that after public notice had been given "the proceedings of the said A B and C D were allowed by" (here the names of the officers of the society). and recording that the said A B and C D appeared at a public meeting for worship of the aforesaid society at their meetinghouse in-------, and the said A B, taking the said C D by the hand, declared as followeth (here the declaration is repeated), "and the said A B, taking the said C D, did then and there in the said assembly declare as followeth------"
This declaration is signed by bride and bridegroom and duly witnessed and dated.
A curious phrase in connection with these proceedings is in use in the Society of Friends. After the public notice of the intended marriage has been made and the necessary forms have been filled in by bride and bridegroom, if all is in order, the two are "liberated" - i.e., given leave by the clerk and overseer to be married. Leave is refused if there is anything out of order in the forms. The following is the liberation form:
"A B and C D (parents' names inserted) being desirous of taking each other in marriage, and having complied with the regulations of the religious Society of Friends in relation thereto, the needful documents having been produced to this meeting, and the necessary public notice having also been given, the parties are left at liberty to solemnise their intended marriage."
No Ring; No Obedience
The giving of a ring forms no part of the ceremony, but is now customary immediately after the meeting. More often there is an exchange of rings. Friends have always upheld the perfect equality of man and woman; consequently, there is no promise "to obey" exacted from the bride.