When Vows of Unchanging Affection are Not Made - The Beautiful Vows of the Reformed Jewish
Church - Symbolism of the Broken "Wineglass - Crowning the Bride and Bridegroom in the Greek
All that the Taw requires to make a marariage legal is a declaration from the man and woman, giving their names, age, nationality, parentage, places of abode, and then the announcement before witnesses that each takes the other to be wife or husband.
In the Registrar's Office
Every marriage service must include this, and at a registrar's office it is reduced to its simplest form. After the contracting parties have given the necessary particulars about themselves, the information they have just supplied is read over to them in the presence of both. Each then makes the following declaration:
"I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, -------, may not be joined in matrimony to -------. I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, -------, do take thee, -------, to be my lawful wedded wife (husband)."
Their signatures are witnessed, and the ceremony is over.
In the case of the marriage in Edinburgh of Mr. Gould, the wealthy American, with Miss Kelly, the ceremony was carried out in the most rigidly formal manner. Apart from the sheriff and his clerk, only the two witnesses were present who are required by law to testify that the contracting parties had resided in Scotland for twenty-one consecutive days. In Scotland it is not incumbent on the parties to register particulars, as in England, and the entry was extremely brief, consisting of the following words:
"Oct. 29, 1910: Gould - Kelly, Scott, St. Giles. Marr."
The simplicity of such vows as these commends them to those who dislike elaborate ceremonial and wish to be married as quietly as possible.
Some people feel unwilling to promise unchanging affection throughout their lives. In any case it is making a promise that may be impossible to fulfil. Conduct may be promised, not feelings. A man or woman can, with determination, keep the vow of fidelity, "to keep thee only unto (her him) as long as ye both shall live"; but it is a different thing to promise love unchanging, as in our Established Church Marriage Service. Who can command her own emotions and her own affections? Each may feel, at the time of marriage, absolutely convinced of the lasting character of the love then felt, and may cheerfully and willingly undertake this tremendous obligation. Others, who know the innate weakness of human nature, hesitate to bind themselves by a contract they may be unable to keep. Therefore they prefer to be married before a registrar.
The very beautiful vows of the Reformed Jewish Church, as in the ceremonial of marriage at the Berkeley Street Synagogue, do not include this undertaking of lifelong affection. They are better suited to the uncertainties of the human emotions, and yet contain promises that should ensure domestic happiness. After having made the declarations required by law, the bridegroom puts a ring on the third finger of the woman's left hand, and, holding her hands in his, says:
"I, A B, stand here to-day to make thee a covenant of affection and truth, and to take thee, C D, to be my lawful wedded wife in the presence of God and in the presence of all who are here assembled. I solemnly vow to be unto thee a true, devoted and constant husband; and thou shalt be called by my name. And I will love thee and cherish thee according to the means with which God shall bless me. Thy sorrow shall be my sorrow, and thy happiness and well-being shall be mine. So help me, God."
The bride then places a ring on the third finger of her husband's left hand, and holding his hands in hers, says:
"I, C D, do also solemnly enter into this holy and affectionate covenant to take thee, A B, to be my lawful wedded husband in the presence of God and in the presence of all who are here assembled; and to link my heart to thy heart, and my destiny to thy destiny, and to be called by thy name. I solemnly vow to be to thee a true, affectionate, and. constant wife, and to stand faithfully by thy side, whether in health or in sickness, whether in prosperity or In adversity. Thy sorrow shall be my sorrow, and thy happiness and well-being shall be mine. So help me, God."
The form of marriage as practised in the United Synagogue under the care of the Chief Rabbi, the Rev. Herman Adler, is very ancient. So far back does it go in the history of the Jewish nation that the exact symbolism of some of the observances has been lost.
The couple to be married take their places under a canopy, supposed to symbolise the life in tents of the far-back ancestors of the race. Their parents and other relatives stand behind them, the celebrant opposite the bride and bridegroom, who face the east, looking towards Jerusalem, the Holy City. The celebrant blesses them, and in a short address prays that they may be given "fidelity and stillness of heart."
The bridegroom places the ring upon the forefinger of the bride's right hand, and says: "Behold, thou art consecrated unto me by this ring, according to the Law of Moses and Israel."
The Hebrew marriage contract, which also constitutes a legal marriage, the registrar being present, is then read, as follows:
The celebrant: "You, A B and C D, are about to be wedded according to the Law of Moses and of Israel. Will you, A B, take this woman, C D, to be your wedded wife? Will you be a true and faithful husband unto her? Will you protect and support her? Will you love, honour, and cherish her?"
The bridegroom: " I will."