Less than two weeks ago, I was asked to sing for a family wedding this weekend. It was a Wonderful Celebration for Barry and Erma! My friend, Andrew Seifert, who is also the Musical Director for my local parish suggested I sing the “The Wedding Song”. I had completely forgotten about this beautiful ballad. I immediately flashed back more than twenty years when I sang “The Wedding Song” for my best friend’s wedding. It was the first wedding of any of my friends, if I remember correctly. I was honored to sing for their ceremony as I was honored to sing for the family wedding this weekend. Unfortunately, a few days ago, the wedding coordinator for the church of the celebrants relayed (through the bride) that I wouldn’t be able to perform a secular song during Mass and I sang “When Love is Found” instead. It’s a song/hymn I had never sung and I had to wing it since I didn’t meet the pianist until one hour before the ceremony. No problem. I sang directly from the hymn book. I couldn’t post my rendition because I don’t have music for it, but I made plans to post “The Wedding Song” and I hope everyone enjoys my rendition! It’s the song I would have sung. =)
I was also asked to perform during the wedding reception and I’m planning to post my cover of that Stevie Wonder classic next weekend as a continuation of this week’s post. Please stay tuned to find out which one!
"The Wedding Song (There Is Love)" is a song written by Noel Paul Stookey in the fall of 1969 and first performed at the wedding of Peter Yarrow - Stookey's co-member of Peter, Paul and Mary - to Mary Beth McCarthy at St Mary's Catholic Church in Willmar MN: Stookey was best man at the ceremony. Stookey had written the song on a midnight flight between Peter, Paul and Mary concert dates in San Jose and Boston setting out to write a song for Yarrow's wedding which would convey Stookey's Christian convictions while respecting Yarrow's Jewish faith. According to Stookey "the melody and the words [of 'The Wedding Song...'] arrived simultaneously and in response to a direct prayer asking God how the divine could be present at Peter’s wedding." Believing he could not take personal credit for composing "The Wedding Song...", Stookey set up the Public Domain Foundation which since 1971 has received the song's songwriting royalties for charitable distribution.
Stookey himself made the first recording of "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" for his 1971 album release Paul and; released as a single the track reached #24 on the Hot 100 in Billboard on whose Easy Listening chart Stookey's "The Wedding Song..." reached #3. (Stookey's Paul and and "The Wedding Song.." single were credited to "Paul Stookey".) Internationally Stookey reached #31 in Canada and #55 in Australia with "The Wedding Song...".
Petula Clark recorded "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" in a July 1972 recording session at the MGM Recording Studios in Los Angeles: included on her album Now produced by Mike Curb with its arranger Don Costa, Clark's "The Wedding Song..." was issued as a single that September garnering strong enough support from Easy Listening radio - peaking at #9 on the relevant Billboard chart - to reach #65 on the Hot 100. A minor mainstream Pop chart item in Canada with a #67 peak, "The Wedding Song..." afforded Clark a major hit in Australia in the spring of 1973 spending 11 weeks in the Top 20 with a peak of #10, remaining Clark's final first-time release English-language recording to appear in the Top Ten of a national Pop chart until "Downtown" by the Saw Doctors featuring Petula Clark reached #2 on the Irish chart in December 2011. (Clark did reach #8 in France in 1977 with the French-language "La Chanson D'Evita"; she also reached #10 UK in 1988 with "Downtown 88" which was a remix of the original 1964 "Downtown" recording.)
Captain & Tennille recorded "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" for their 1976 album Song of Joy. "The Wedding Song..." was intended to be issued as a fourth single from the album and would have followed up the 1976-77 Top Ten hit "Muskrat Love": A&M Records had gone as far as assigning a catalog number (A&M 1894) for the track's single release when it was canceled, Captain & Tennille's follow-up single to "Muskrat Love" being "Can't Stop Dancin'" the advance single from the duo's upcoming Come in from the Rain album.
"The Wedding Song (There is Love)" returned to the Billboard charts in the autumn of 1978 via a version by Mary MacGregor which reached #23 Easy Listening and #81 on the Hot 100. MacGregor had been discovered by Peter Yarrow whose wedding occasioned the song's composition but Yarrow was not involved in MacGregor's recording of "The Wedding Song..." which was produced by Tom Catalano. The Mary MacGregor version made its album debut on the 1979 release Mary MacGregor's Greatest Hits.
Other versions of "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" have been recorded by the Lettermen (album Close to You/ 1971), James Last (instrumental - album Love Must Be the Reason - 1972), Helena Vondráčková (as "Je teď tvá" Czech- album Helena a Stryci / 1974), Nana Mouskouri (as "Wedding Song" -album Nana's Book of Songs/ 1975), Daliah Lavi (as "Liebe Lebt" German - album Neuer Wind/ 1976), Arlo Guthrie (as "Wedding Song" -album Outlasting the Blues/ 1979), Bonnie St. Claire (as "'K Hou Van Jou" Dutch - album Sla Je Arm Om Me Heen/ 1983), and Bradley Joseph (instrumental- album Piano Love Songs/ 2006).
I immediately flashed back more than twenty years when I sang “The Wedding Song” for my best friend’s wedding. It was the first wedding of any of my friends, if I remember correctly. I was honored to sing for their ceremony as I was honored to sing for the family wedding this weekend.