A Norwegian Folk Wedding
VIGSEL OG SKOTSFERDEN
While members of the wedding party used the morning to prepare and to have photos taken, our guests could sightsee or visit together and get ready for the events of the day.
We asked our guests to assemble no later than 12:30 p.m. at our reception site, a local Episcopal church fellowship hall about 1/2 mile from the Lutheran church where the wedding service was to take place. Many arrived around 12 noon. They parked their cars, dropped off their contributions to the potluck reception, and then gathered with the bridal party and other guests to visit before the procession started. While they visited, many of the over 40 musicians present were playing tunes, both for practice and enjoyment.
Around 12:35 p.m., our kjøkemester (no, it's not a "jokemeister", it's a Master of Ceremonies) welcomed the guests. They were asked to line up in the following traitional order:
Traditional Processional Call
Once every one was in place, our wedding day celebration officially opened at 12:45 p.m. with the sound of the lur. The lur is one of Norway's oldest folk instruments and has been used for rituals and for work and communication, especially between high mountain farms.
Then the door was slammed three times (to mark the Trinity) in order to scare away any evil lurking about. In the old days, they used to shoot a gun over the bride's head - but the local police didn't think this was a good idea...
Traditional Norwegian Wedding Marches
Our bridal procession was led by 16 musicians playing two traditional Norweigian wedding marches from areas near where portions of the bride's family is from:
The procession was great fun! It was a one-half (1/2) mile walk over flat sidewalks through local side streets. Because we stayed on the sidewalks, we didn't need any parade permits. (We had checked this, in advance, with the local police department.) As we walked down the streets, dozens of people came out of their houses to see what was going by. They ran to get cameras and took pictures. Mini-vans on their way to local garage sales slowed down to take a look and call out greetings. One of our elderly guests lived on the procession route, but wasn't able to join the walk. He sat in his lawn chair, waving the Norwegian flag and cheering us on!
Among the unexpected advantages of walking to church:
Hardingfele Brudamarsj fra Seljord
We were met at the church with two surprises: The first surprsie was five hardingfele players who had come from all over the United States and who met the procession near the church door playing a Bridal March from Seljord, Telemark.
The hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle) originated in the area around the Hardangerfjord area of Norway, whence its name, and is often referred to as the national instrument of Norway. It is essentially a violin, creatively decorated with mother-of-pearl inlays, drawings, and often capped by a carving, usually a fearsome lion's head, on the end of the neck. Its most distinguishing feature is the four or five sympathetic understrings that run under the fingerboard. The main strings are tuned in one of 23 combinations and the understrings are, in turn, tuned to those harmonics, providing the bagpipe-like "drone" for which the hardingfele is famous. The oldest known fiddle has a date of 1651, although they have found fiddle cases that predate the fiddle by over 100 years, and the musical tradition continues unbroken up to the present day.
The second surprise was our pastor and his wife who met us -- as tradition dicates -- at the door to the church. Our pastor was in the traditional dress of a 19th century Norwegian pastor with black robe and a ruffled white collar that his wife had made especially for the occasion.
Once the Bridal Procession had arrived and the guests were seated in the church it was time to begin the service.
The wedding service was compiled from various Protestant sources including the Scottish (Anglican), German and Norwegian Lutheran traditions, all of which reflect the heritage of the faith and cultures of the bridal couple.
Karen Torkelson Solgård, hardingfele, and Kären Salveson, piano
Karen and Kären played some traditional Norwegian folk tunes as the congregation walked into the church from the Bridal Procession. Among the tunes we asked Karen Solgård to play was one by Myllarguten or Torgeir Augundsson (1801-72), Norway's most famous fiddler. It's a somewhat sad piece, written for the wedding of girl that Myllarguten himself wanted to marry. You can hear the fiddle plaintively calling "Kari, Kari, Kari..." in the melody.
Loretta Kelley, hardingfele
For the processional inside the church to the altar, the fiddler played a traditional wedding march from the Nordfjord region of Norway on the hardingfele. The tune is based on a folk tune from Gudbrandsdal that remembers the Scottish invasion of Norway in 1612. Listen for the the "bagpipes" in the tune.
The fiddler walked into the church, playing as she walked. She was followed by the pastor, the two honor attendants and then the bridal couple who came in together holding hands. Following Nordic tradition, the bride and groom were seated with their honor attendants in front of the altar. The bride and matron of honor were seated on the left side of the chancel, facing the groom and best man, who were seated on the right hand side of the chancel. The pastor stood in between, behind the pre' dieu.
Our pastor opened the service with a welcome to all our guests. Then he put his hand up to his ruffled collar and said, "You know...I wouldn't wear this for just anyone." The whole congreagation broke up in laughter -- and his lighthearted comment help set the tone for a wedding that had grace, dignity, humor and serendipity.
Kären Salveson, piano
The Lutheran denomination has often been called "the singing church" because of the rich tradition of liturgy and congregational choral singing, begun by Martin Luther himself and strongly influenced by the denominationēs North European roots. The hymns chosen for today come from the German Lutheran heritage and are familiar to almost every Lutheran (and many of other denominations). We chose to use the translations found in the old Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (aka "The Red Book") because they reminded us of growing up in the Lutheran church, reflect the "old-fashioned" wedding theme and have beautiful poetry. The hymns we chose were played and sung in 3/4 time~waltz meter~perfect for dancing!.
Adapted from the Church of Scotland
PASTOR: Let us pray. Gracious God, we give you thanks and praise for all your gifts of goodness and grace. We praise you for your gift of love, uniting our friends and families, blessing our lives, enfolding us all our days. Especially we thank you for the love that dwells and grows in the hearts of Todd and Ruth and for the happiness and trust that has led them here. As they seek now in marriage to confirm that happiness and deepen that trust, may your Spirit of love sanctify their joy and enrich their love. Guide them by your grace, surround them with your presence, and keep them in your love. Amen. [CONGREGATION SITS.]
From Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Barbara Heep, reader
A friend of the groom stood up, told how she had gotten to know the groom (through science fiction conventions) and read:
"A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back~it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it. The joy of such a pattern is not only in the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined. One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but points directly on the present step as it comes. Perfect poise on the beat is what gives good dancing its sense of ease, of timelessness, of the eternal."
She ended her reading with the words, "Live long and prosper", with the Vulcan gesture. The entire congregation broke up in laughter
Loretta Kelley, hardingfele, and Kären Salveson, piano
Between the readings, we heard Bjølleslåtten (The Bell Tune) after the tradition of Ola Mosafinn, a fiddler from Voss, Norway. The theme of this tune is based on the sound of the harness bells as a wedding party travels to and from the church on horseback.
Philippians 2:1-4, 4:4-9 (NIV)
Fuad Bassim Nijim, reader
The second reader first told of his friendship with the bride since they were college students together and how she had met his family in Palestine when she was a student there. At the bride's request, he began the reading with a blessing in Arabic and then read:
The Reverend Randall K. Wilburn
ADAPTED FROM THE CHURCH OF NORWAY
PASTOR: God has commanded us to live in community with him and with each other so that man and woman shall be oneand he has affirmed this joint enterprise with his blessing. Marriage is God's good gift. It tests our ability to share happiness and sorrow, to give and receive, to understand and forgive. In marriage, man and woman grow closer to each other and extend themselves in faith and hope towards all that God has to give. In the presence of God and these witnesses, I ask you, [GROOM], will you have [BRIDE], who stands at your side, to be your wife? Will you love and honor her and be faithful to her through good and bad days until death parts you from each other?
PASTOR: [GROOM] and [BRIDE]have invited you here because you are special to them and because they desire your support and encouragement. You all have a role to play in their relationship. I now ask you as family, friends, colleagues and congregation, will you do everything in your power to support them in their marriage and give it your blessing? If so, please respond by saying loudly, "Yes, we will!"
The bridal pair exchanged our vows and gold wedding bands that were created by a member of the congregation. After the vows, the pastor invited members of the congregation to come and surround the bridal pairfor a "laying on of hands" as they knelt to receive the Blessing Prayer. Many of family and friends joined the bridal party at the altar for this moving experience.
ADAPTED FROM THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
PASTOR: Gracious God, for the promise, for the hope, for the love of this day, we praise you! Bless [GROOM] and [BRIDE] now with the strength of your Spirit, that they may build a life of joy and fulfillment on the foundations of commitment and love. Bless them so that together they may grow to know and love you. Bless their families and friends, who have given their love and friendship throughout the years. May they be sustained in their marriage by the love and support that now surrounds them.
[TIME FOR INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS.]
At this point, members of the congreagation were invited to add their own prayers for us, either silently or aloud. A number of beautiful, meaningful prayers were offered by family and friends.
PASTOR: Father in heaven, bless [GROOM AND BRIDE] so that they always remain open hearted, courageous and strong. Give to them generosity of spirit, understanding of each other, and warm and loyal friendship. Grant that they may go forward from this day delighting in their love. May their love grow, and in time to come may it prove to heal and to help, to overcome difficulties and to bring reconciliation. So may all see in them a symbol of your love, from which nothing can separate us, and which nothing can overcome. Be with them now and remain with them forever. Amen.
(MAY BE SAID IN THE LANGUAGE OF YOUR CHOICE.)
ALL : Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
The bride prayed the Lord's Prayer in Norwegian, as she always does, to remember her heritage and to honor the faith of her grandmothers. Many other languages were being used at this point: Arabic, German, Swedish, Danish, etc.. It was a reminder of the universality of the Christian faith and of the global community of the church in Christ Jesus.
PASTOR: [GROOM] and [BRIDE], you have been united by the grace of God and have publicly made your vows before us. The Lord God bless and sustain you in love until life's end.
The "Amen!" from the congregation was so loud and enthusiastic that the bride turned around and gave everyone a "thumbs up" gesture -- and the congregation exploded in delighted laughter. Once the vows had been exchanged, the blessing prayer said, and the marriage proclamation made, the groom exchanged seats with the matron of honor and the bridal couple were seated by each other's side for the remainder of the service.
Kären Salveson, piano
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Roderick Kettlewell, piano
The recessional, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, was composed by Norway's "national composer", Edvard Hagarup Grieg (a Norwegian of Scottish descent), for the wedding of his daughter. Grieg frequently used themes he heard in traditional Norwegian folk music in his own compositions. We didn't actually process out at this point. Instead, we sat (along with the rest of the congregation) and listend to the glorious music. Only on the last reprise of the main musical theme did we finally walk out. While this type of recessional was unusual, many people commented on how much they enjoyed it because it allowed them time to sit and reflect upon what had just taken place. We, too, enjoyed the extra time for meditation -- and we think more people should do this at their weddings.
After the wedding, the bridal pair greeted some of our guests in the courtyard and had some pictures taken. A number of the musicians began playing and a few of our guests even started dancing.
About fifteen minutes or so after the wedding ended, the bagpipier began blowing his pipes and the bridal party and guests fell into line again for the Scottish Wedding Procession back to the reception hall for the rest of the festivities. (For more information on the bagpipes, check out The Pipes web site.)
After a leisurely half-mile back from the church to the reception site, the bridal party waited outside the reception hall as the guests entered to prepare for the Skaaljedajen..
© Copyright 2000 Ruth M. Sylte. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: Sunday, 02-Aug-2015 17:25:16 MST