Wedding Music

Music is a central and unifying act of worship during services at the Memorial Church, and your wedding ceremony is no exception. We strive to offer diverse music of the highest quality to augment and enhance the spiritual nature of your ceremony. The following list, by no means exhaustive or prescriptive, contains the most common musical selections chosen for weddings here.

Each selection is recorded on each of our two pipe organs, a 2012 Fisk organ in the rear gallery of the main church and a 1929/2010 Skinner in Appleton Chapel at the front. While either instrument may be used for ceremonies in the main church, it is advised that ceremonies confined within Appleton Chapel utilize the Skinner organ. When choosing an instrument for the main church, be advised that the Fisk will have a more direct and regal sonic effect overall; the Skinner’s sound will be a bit more distant and ethereal in general. Only one instrument should be used during your ceremony. 

There are primarily three types of songs to consider for your ceremony: preludes, processionals, and recessionals. As you choose music for your ceremony, please consider the mood that you would like to create.

For any questions about music, please contact Carson Cooman at carson_cooman@harvard.edu.

Making your music selections

Step 1: Choose Prelude

The organist will generally play 15-20 minutes of prelude music before the ceremony. Most couples leave prelude choices to the organist’s discretion (since they will likely hear none of it!), but you may choose pieces to be included if you wish.

Fisk Organ – Prelude Music

Skinner Organ – Prelude Music

Step 2: Choose Processional(s)

The processional accompanies the entry of the wedding party, including family, attendant's, and bride/groom. Some points to consider:

  • Do you wish to have just one processional for all entering (particularly if you have a small wedding party), or have a separate piece for the bride’s entrance?
  • Would you like the processionals to be quiet and elegant, or bold and stately? 
  • Would you like to have a shift in mood for the bride’s/groom's entrance?
  • Most couples’ mothers enter at the end of the prelude music, but you might wish to choose a specific piece for their entrance. 

Fisk Organ – Processional Music

Skinner Organ – Processional Music

Step 3: Choose Recessional

At the end of the ceremony, the recessional accompanies all as the recess the church. Consider whether you would like the recessional to be fast and joyous, or broad and elegant.

Fisk Organ – Recessional Music

Skinner Organ – Recessional Music

Step 4: Alternate Music & Hymns

Some couples also choose to include additional music for certain parts of the ceremony, such as a musical interlude. You might also discuss with your officiant whether any congregational hymns should be included in your ceremony; the hymnal in our pews is the Harvard University Hymn Book, 2007.

Step 5: Tell us your music selections

Once you have chosen your ceremony music, please complete our wedding music form to notify the music department of your selections.