2. The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony (1549 Book of Common Prayer)

First, the banns must be asked three several Sundays or holy days in the service time, the people being present, after the accustomed manner. And if the persons that would be married dwell in divers parishes, the banns must be asked in both parishes, and the Curate of the one parish shall not solemnize matrimony betwixt them, without a certificate of the banns being thrice asked from the Curate of the other parish. At the day appointed for Solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the church, with their friends and neighbors. And there the priest shall thus say,

Dearly beloved friends, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of his congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate instituted of God in paradise, in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church: which holy estate, Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, and is commended of Saint Paul to be honorable among all men; and therefore is not to be enterprised, nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding: but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Duly considering the causes for the which matrimony was ordained. One cause was the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and praise of God. Secondly it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication, that such persons as be married, might live chastely in matrimony, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body. Thirdly, for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into the which holy estate these two persons present: come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined so together: Let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

And also speaking to the persons that shall be married, he shall say,

I require and charge you (as you will answer at the dreadful day of judgement, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed) that if either of you do know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, that ye confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as be coupled together otherwise then God’s word doth allow: are not joined of God, neither is their matrimony lawful.

At which day of marriage if any man do allege any impediment why they may not be coupled together in matrimony; And will be bound, and sureties with him, to the parties, or else put in a caution to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do sustain to prove his allegation: then the Solemnization must be deferred, unto such time as the truth be tried. If no impediment be alleged, then shall the Curate say unto the man,

N.Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health? And forsaking all other keep thee only to her, so long as you both shall live?

The man shall answer,

I will.

Then shall the priest say to the woman,

N.Wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health? And forsaking all other keep thee only to him, so long as you both shall live?

The woman shall answer,

I will.

Then shall the Minister say,

Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?

And the minister receiving the woman at her father or friend’s hands: shall cause the man to take the woman by the right hand, and so either to give their troth to other: The man first saying,

I N. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart: according to God’s holy ordinance: And thereto I plight thee my troth.

Then shall they loose their hands, and the woman taking again the man by the right hand shall say,

I N. take thee N. to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us depart: according to God’s holy ordinance: And thereto I give thee my troth.

Then shall they again loose their hands, and the man shall give unto the woman a ring, and other tokens of spousage, as gold or silver, laying the same upon the book: And the Priest taking the ring shall deliver it unto the man: to put it upon the fourth finger of the woman’s left hand. And the man taught by the priest, shall say,

With this ring I thee wed: This gold and silver I thee give: with my body I thee worship: and withal my worldly Goods I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then the man leaving the ring upon the fourth finger of the woman’s left hand, the minister shall say,

Let us pray.

O Eternal God creator and preserver of all mankind, giver of all spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life: Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man, and this woman, whom we bless in thy name, that as Isaac and Rebecca (after bracelets and jewels of gold given of the one to the other for tokens of their matrimony) lived faithfully together; So these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, whereof this ring given, and received, is a token and pledge. And may ever remain in perfect love and peace together; And live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the priest join their right hands together, and say,

Those whom God hath joined together: let no man put asunder.

Then shall the minister speak unto the people,

Forasmuch as N. and N. have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same here before God and this company; And thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving gold and silver, and by joining of hands: I pronounce that they be man and wife together. In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

And the minister shall add this blessing,

God the Father bless you. God the Son keep you: God the Holy Ghost lighten your understanding: The Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction, and grace, that you may have remission of your sins in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

Then shall they go into the quire, and the ministers or clerks shall say or sing, this psalm following,

Beati omnes. cxxviii.

Blessed are all they that fear the Lord, and walk in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labour of thy hands. O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be.
Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine, upon the walls of thy house.
Thy children like the olive branches round about thy table.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that feareth the Lord.
The Lord from out of Zion, shall so bless thee: that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity, all thy life long.
Yea that thou shalt see thy children’s children: and peace upon Israel.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.

Or else this psalm following,

Deus misereatur nostri. Psalm lxvii.

God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and shew us the light of his countenance: and be merciful unto us.
That thy way may be known upon the earth, thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee (O God) yea let all people praise thee.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad, for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon the earth.
Let the people praise thee (O God) let all people praise thee. Then shall the earth bring forth her increase: and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
God shall bless us, and all the ends of the world shall fear him.
Glory to the Father, etc.
As it was in the beginning, etc.

The psalm ended, and the man and woman kneeling afore the altar: the priest standing at the altar, and turning his face toward them, shall say,

Lord have mercy upon us.
Answer. Christ have mercy upon us.
Minister. Lord have mercy upon us.
Our Father which art in heaven, etc.
And lead us not into temptation.
Answer. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Minister. O Lord save thy servant, and thy handmaiden.
Answer. Which put their trust in thee.
Minister. O Lord send them help from thy holy place.
Answer. And evermore defend them.
Minister. Be unto them a tower of strength.
Answer. From the face of their enemy.
Minister. O Lord hear my prayer.
Answer. And let my cry come unto thee.
The Minster. Let us pray.

O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, bless these thy servants, and sow the seed of eternal life in their minds, that whatsoever in thy holy word they shall profitably learn: they may indeed fulfill the same. Look, O Lord, mercifully upon them from heaven, and bless them: And as thou didst send thy Angel Raphael to Tobit, and Sara, the daughter of Raguel, to their great comfort; so vouchsafe to send thy blessing upon these thy servants, that they obeying thy will, and alway being in safety under thy protection: may abide in thy love unto their lives’ end: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer following shall be omitted where the woman is past childbirth,

O merciful Lord, and heavenly Father, by whose gracious gift mankind is increased: We beseech thee assist with thy blessing these two persons, that they may both be fruitful in procreation of children; and also live together so long in godly love and honesty, that they may see their children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation, unto thy praise and honour: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God which by thy mighty power hast made all things of naught, which also after other things set in order didst appoint that out of man (created after thine own image and similitude) woman should take her beginning: and, knitting them together, didst teach, that it should never be lawful to put asunder those, whom thou by matrimony hadst made one: O God, which hast consecrated the state of matrimony to such an excellent mystery, that in it is signified and represented the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and his church: Look mercifully upon these thy servants, that both this man may love his wife, according to thy word (as Christ did love his spouse the church, who gave himself for it, loving and cherishing it even as his own flesh); And also that this woman may be loving and amiable to her husband as Rachel, wise as Rebecca, faithful and obedient as Sara; And in all quietness, sobriety, and peace, be a follower of holy and godly matrons. O Lord, bless them both, and grant them to inherit thy everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the priest bless the man and the woman, saying,

Almighty God, which at the beginning did create our first parents Adam and Eve, and did sanctify and join them together in marriage: Pour upon you the riches of his grace, sanctify and bless you, that ye may please him both in body and soul; and live together in holy love unto your lives’ end. Amen.

Then shall be said after the gospel a sermon, wherein ordinarily (so oft as there is any marriage) the office of man and wife shall be declared according to Holy Scripture. Or if there be no sermon, the minister shall read this that followeth,

All ye which be married, or which intend to take the holy estate of matrimony upon you: hear what Holy Scripture doth say, as touching the duty of husbands toward their wives, and wives toward their husbands.

Saint Paul (in his epistle to the Ephesians the fifth chapter) doth give this commandment to all married men:

Ye husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and hath given himself for it, to sanctify it, purging it in the fountain of water, through the word, that he might make it unto himself, a glorious congregation, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and blameless. So men are bound to love their own wives as their own bodies: he that loveth his own wife, loveth himself. For never did any man hate his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord doth the congregation, for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This mystery is great, but I speak of Christ and of the congregation. Nevertheless let every one of you so love his own wife, even as himself.

Likewise the same Saint Paul (writing to the Colossians) speaketh thus to all men that be married: Ye men, love your wives and be not bitter unto them. Coloss. iii.

Hear also what saint Peter the apostle of Christ, (which was himself a married man,) saith unto all men that are married. Ye husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge: Giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as heirs together of the grace of life, so that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Pet. iii.

Hitherto ye have heard the duty of the husband toward the wife.

Now likewise, ye wives, hear and learn your duty toward your husbands, even as it is plainly set forth in Holy Scripture.

Saint Paul (in the forenamed epistle to the Ephesians) teacheth you thus: Ye women submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord: for the husband is the wife’s head, even as Christ is the head of the church: And he also is the saviour of the whole body. Therefore as the Church, or congregation, is subject unto Christ: So likewise let the wives also be in subjection unto their own husbands in all things. Ephes. v. And again he saith: Let the wife reverence her husband. And (in his epistle to the Colossians) Saint Paul giveth you this short lesson. Ye wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is convenient in the Lord. Coloss. iii.

Saint Peter also doth instruct you very godly, thus saying, Let wives be subject to their own husbands, so that if any obey not the word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation, coupled with fear, whose apparel let it not be outward, with braided hair, and trimming about with gold, either in putting on of gorgeous apparel: But let the hid man which is in the heart, be without all corruption, so that the spirit be mild and quiet, which is a precious thing in the sight of God. For after this manner (in the old time) did the holy women, which trusted in God, apparel themselves, being subject to their own husbands: as Sara obeyed Abraham calling him lord, whose daughters ye are made, doing well, and being not dismayed with any fear. 1 Pet. iii.

The new married persons (the same day of their marriage) must receive the holy communion.[1]

  1. Original text from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, with modernized spelling.


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