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Cinema and expectations of weddings

23 May 2014


From Mr Colin Baldy

Sir, - I blushed when I read the Revd Julian Hollywell's fulsome praise for my talents ( Letters, 16 May), though I feel that I cannot take responsibility for the liturgical excellence of St Mary's, Maldon, which is due entirely to the efforts of the Rector, the Revd Louis Darrant.

I fear, however, that Fr Hollywell has slightly missed the point of my article. I do not doubt that "Mr Cow, how do you say to the Lord, I love you" sung by children and adults alike at a wedding at which he officiated was entirely dignified and appropriate. Nor do I doubt that he has conducted similarly dignified and celebratory weddings either with no music or with modern, secular music. I know him to be a charismatic and inspiring priest.

I suspect that he may have jumped to conclusions as a result of the headline of the piece. My original title was "The Disneyfication of Weddings". An earlier version was "Love Actually Weddings". My point was that, since so many brides now have no experience of church, for very many their entire experience is what they have seen at the cinema. Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago, I met a couple who had never been to a church wedding and thought that it was exactly as in films.

Having spent most of my working life in opera, I would, you might think, approve of the theatrical. On the whole I do, but not when it becomes the central focus. This is what I was trying to get across.

Fr Hollywell will, I hope, be pleased to know that I only ever advise and will always agree to play whatever the bride desires. It is, after all, her day. Last year, we sang Westlife at one wedding, and, at another, despite my trying my best to dissuade the bride, I played the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for her to enter by. She entered just as I got to the long, spread diminished chord on C# over the pedal D. As I feared, it did appear that she was being led to her doom, but, hey ho! she loved it.

Director of Music, St Mary's, Maldon
15 Wantz Road, Maldon
Essex CM9 5DB

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