Order for Consecration of Marriage: Sarum Use

The Order for Consecrating Marriage

According to the Use of Sarum

Translated from the Latin (available here) by Matthew Hoskin

In the beginning, the man and woman shall stand before the entrance of the church in the face of God, the Priest, and the people, the man on the right of the woman, the woman on the left of the man.

Then shall the priest inquire proclaiming the Banns in his mother tongue under this formula:

Behold, brethren, we have come hither in the sight of God, the angels, and all his saints in the presence of the church, to join together two bodies, of this man and of this woman, and here a priest shall examine the persons so that henceforth they may be one in flesh and two spirits in faith and in the law of God, at the same time to the promised eternal life, whatever they have done previously.  Therefore, I warn you all that if any of you know anything to speak, why these two persons cannot be lawfully joined together, he is to confess it now.

The same warning is to be made to the man and to the woman so that if anything had been done secretly by them, either if they had vowed anything or they knew in another way concerning themselves why they cannot be lawfully joined together, then it is to be confessed.

Afterwards, the priest says in the mother tongue to the man with everyone listening, thus:

N., do you wish to have this woman as a wife, and to esteem her, to honour, hold, and protect her, healthy and sick, just as a husband ought to do for a wife, and to forsake all other women, and to cling to her so long as your life and hers will endure?

The man shall respond: I so wish.

Then the priest shall speak to the woman in this way:

N., do you wish to have this man as a husband, and to obey him, to serve, esteem, honour, and guard him healthy and sick, just as a wife ought to do for a husband, and to forsake all other men, and to cling to him so long as your life and his will endure?

The woman shall respond: I so wish.

And then the woman is to be given away by her father or by his friends.

Then if she is a maiden, she shall have her hand uncovered, if she is a widow it is covered.  The man shall receive her in the faith of God and she is to be served by his own [faith?], just as she has vowed in the presence of the Priest, and he shall take her by the right hand in his right hand, and thus shall give a pledge to the woman through words concerning her present, speaking thus with the Priest coaching him.

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, till death us depart, if holy Church will it permit, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

The hand is drawn back.  Then the woman shall say, with the Priest coaching:

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 be bonnair and buxom, in bed and boord [board?] till death us depart, if holy Church will it permit, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

The hand is drawn back. Then the man shall place gold, silver, and the ring upon a dish or a book, and the Priest shall inquire if the ring had been blessed previously or not.  If it is said that it has not, then the Priest shall bless the ring in this way.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray.  Creator and Preserver of the human race, giver of spiritual grace, bestower of eternal salvation, thou, Lord, send thy blessing upon this ring, that she who wears it may be armed with the virtue of celestial defence and may advance with it to eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.  XBless, Lord, this ring which we bless in thy holy name so that whosoever would wear it may persist in thy peace, and remain in thy will, and live in thy love, and increase and grow old and be increased into length of days.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Then shall he sprinkle blessed water upon the ring.

If, however, the ring had been blessed previously, then immediately after the man will have placed it upon the book, having taken it, the Priest shall hand it to the man.  The man shall take it with his right hand with his three principal fingers and holding the right hand of his wife with his left shall say, with the Priest coaching:

With this ring I thee wed, this gold and silver I thee give, and with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

Then the husband shall place the ring on the thumb of his wife, saying: In the name of the Father,

Then on the forefinger, saying: And of the Son,

Then on the middle finger, saying: And of the Holy Ghost,

Then on the ring finger, saying: Amen.

Then he shall release the ring.  For it is [taught] in medicine that there is a certain vein proceeding all the way to the heart, and in the melodiousness of silver is symbolised internal love, which now young ought always to be between them.

Then, with their heads bowed, the Priest shall pronounce the blessing on them.

XMay you be blessed by God, who created the world out of nothing.  Amen.

Afterward, the following Psalm is to be recited. Psalm 68:28-30a.

28 Thy Lord hath ordeyned thy strength: establishe the thing O Lorde that thou hast wrought in vs. 29 For thy temple sake at Hierusalem: kynges wyll bryng presentes vnto thee. 30 Put to rebuke the companie of speare men, a multitude of bulles amongest the people lyke vnto calues: [vntyll] that they brought vnder foote [come] with peeces of siluer

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.[ii]

Priest: Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Priest: OURE father, whiche arte in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kyngdom come. Thy wyll be done in earth as it is in heaven. Geve us this daye oure dayly bread. And forgeve us oure trespasses, as we forgeve them that trespasse agaynst us. And leade us not into temptacion.

All: But deliver us from evell. Amen.[iii]

Priest: Let us bless the Father and the Son with the Holy Ghost.

People: Let us praise him and exalt him to the ages.

Priest: Let us praise the Lord whom the Angels praise.

People: Whom Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim Holy, Holy, Holy.

Priest: Lord, hear my prayer.

People: And let my cry come unto thee.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray.  May the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, be with us: and may he join you together and may he pour into you his blessing, which God lives and reigns through all of the ages of ages.  Amen.

Another prayer thus: Let us pray.  XMay God the Father bless you, God the Son keep you, and God the Holy Ghost illumine you.  May God turn his countenance upon you and have mercy upon you.  May the Lord turn his face to you and give you peace and fill you with every spiritual blessing in the remission of all your sins so that you may have eternal life and live into the ages of ages.  Amen.

Here they enter the Church all the way to the step of the altar and the Priest shall say the following Psalm on the step with his servers.

Psalm 128
1
He is blessed whatsoeuer he be that feareth God: walking in his waies.  2 For thou shalt eate the labours of thine handes: thou shalt be happy, and [all] shall go well with thee.  3 Thy wyfe shalbe as a fruitfull vine: vpon the sides of thyne house. Thy chyldren [shalbe] like oliue braunches: rounde about thy table.  4 Beholde, for thus shall the man be blessed: that feareth God.  5 God wyll blesse thee out of Sion: and thou shalt see Hierusalem in prosperitie all the dayes of thy lyfe.  6 Yea thou shalt see thy chylders chyldren: and peace vpon Israel.[iv]

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Then, with the husband and wife prostrate before the altar, the Priest shall ask the people standing around to pray for them, saying:

Priest: Let us pray.

All: Our Father . . .

Priest: Save thy servant and handmaiden.

People: Who put their trust in thee, my God.

Priest: Lord, send to them help from your sanctuary.[v]

People: And look down from Zion upon them.

Priest: Mayst thou be for them, Lord, a strong tower,

People: from the visage of the enemy.

Priest: O Lord, hear my prayer.

People: And let my cry come unto thee.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray.  XMay the Lord bless you from Zion, so that you may see those good things which are Jerusalem[vi] for all the days of your lives;  and may you see the sons of your sons and peace upon Israel.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.  God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, Xbless your young adults and sow the seed of eternal life in their minds: so that they may dedicate everything to their own usefulness, let them desire this.  Through Jesus Christ thy Son, redeemer of humanity, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages of ages.  Amen.

Let us pray.  Look, O Lord, from the heavens, and Xbless this gathering.  And just as thou sent thy holy Angel Raphael to Tobias and Sarah the daughter of Raguel:  so wilt thou be pleased to send thy Xblessing upon these young adults, O Lord, so that they may remain in thy will, and persist in thy security, and live in thy love and grow old: thus may they be made worthy and peaceful and be multiplied into length of days.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.  Look, O Blessed Lord, upon this thy family so that they may receive heavenly Xblessing in thy name, and may see alive the sons of their sons and daughters to the third and fourth generation, and endure in thy will, and come through in the future to the kingdom of heaven.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.  May the almighty and everlasting God, who created Adam and Eve our first parents in his own virtue and joined them together in holiness, sanctify and Xbless your hearts and bodies, and join you together in the alliance (society?) and true love of esteem/affection.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Then he shall bless them, saying: XMay almighty God bless you with every heavenly Xblessing; make you worthy in his sight; overflow the riches of his grace upon you; teach you in the word of truth so that you may be strong to please equally with body as with soul.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

When the prayers are completed, which were said above them lying at the step of the altar, they are to be led to the presbyterium (that is, between the choir and the altar) from the south part of the Church, and the woman is to stand to the right of the man (evidently between him and the altar).  Then Mass is to be begun.

Note that the order for blessed frankincense is never given in Church by husband and wife.  Thus it is that when the blessed incense is brought above the altar, if the thurible goes down to the clergy, or to the laity, different incense is to be placed in it and offered to the people.

After the Sanctus, the husband and wife lay themselves in prayer at the step of the altar with a pallium extended over them, which four ministers hold by the four corners, unless either of them had been previously wed and blessed, since then the pallium is not held over them, nor is the Sacramental benediction spoken, as it will extend afterwards.[vii]

And then, when, “Through all of the ages of ages.  Amen,” is said after the Lord’s Prayer, before is said, “The Peace of the Lord be always with you,” when the fraction of the Eucharist is made in the usual custom, and when the host has been broken into three pieces on the paten: having turned to them, the Priest shall say the following prayers with them meanwhile kneeling beneath the pallium:

Priest: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray. Propitiate, O Lord, by our prayers, and assist with thy commands in which thou hast benignly ordained the propagation of the human race, that that which is joined together with thee as originator may be preserved with thee as helper, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.  O Lord, who through the power of thy virtue hast made all that is from nothing, and, when the beginnings of the universe were laid down, and when man was made according to the image of God, established the inseparable assistance of the woman, so that thou gavest the beginning to the female body from male flesh, teaching that that which it was pleasing to be instituted from one ought never to be disunited.

Here beginneth the Sacramental benediction.

O God, who hast consecrated the conjugal union in so excellent a mystery, that thou signifiest the sacrament of Christ and the Church in the alliance of marriage.

Here endeth the Sacramental benediction.[viii]

O God, through whom the woman is joined to the man, and society is principally ordered, may that be given with this benediction X which alone be washed neither through the penalty of original sin nor through the judgement of the flood.  Look favourably upon this thy handmaiden, who is to be joined with the bond of marriage and who seeketh to be defended by thy protection.  May the yoke of favour and peace be upon her: faithful and chaste may she be wed in Christ, and imitate him [ie. Christ].  May she endure among the saintly women.  May she be as loveable as Rachel to her husband; as wise as Rebecca; as long-lived and faithful as Sarah.  May the originator of transgression seize upon nothing in her out of her own actions.  May she remain in the bond of faith and the commandments, bound to one marriage-bed.  May she flee illicit bonds and defend her own weakness by the strength of discipline.  May she be weighty in modesty, outstanding in virtue, learned in heavenly doctrines.  May she be rich in children, and prudent and innocent.  May she also come to desired old age, and see the sons of her sons all the way to the third and fourth generation.  And may she come through to the rest of the blessed and the heavenly kingdom.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

After these things, the Priest turns to the altar and says:

The peace of the Lord and Lamb of God.

The pallium is removed, and the husband and wife shall rise together, and the husband shall receive the Pax from the Priest and bear it to his wife, kissing it and no one else doing so, save him and her: but immediately, a Deacon or cleric receiving the Pax from the Priest, shall bear it to the others serving at the altar (ie. Acolytes, ministers, etc) as is the custom.

After the Mass, the bread and wine—or something else drinkable—are blessed in a vessel, and they eat of them with the Priest saying:

The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray.  BlessX, O Lord, this bread, this drink, and this vessel, just as thou blessed the five loaves in the desert, and the six water jugs in Cana of Galilee, so may they be healthy and sober, and all who eat of them spotless, O Saviour of the world, who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, through the ages of ages.  Amen.[ix]

On that night, when the bride and groom go to bed, the Priest comes to them and blesses the bedroom of the couple saying:

The Lord be with you.

Response: And with thy spirit.

Priest: BlessX, O Lord, this bedroom, and all who dwell in it: that they may abide in thy peace, and remain in thy will, and live in thy love, and grow old and multiply into length of days.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

And then the blessing over the bed.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with thy spirit.

Priest: BlessX, O Lord, this bed, thou who sleepest not, nor may sleep.  Thou who guardest Israel, guard thy servants who rest in this bed from all false dreams of demons.  Guard them while they watch, that sleeping they may meditate upon thy precepts, and sense thee through sleep, that here and anywhere they may be guarded by the help of thy defence.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thence the blessing shall happen over them in bed as follows:

Priest: Let us pray.  May God blessX your bodies and souls, and may he give his blessing over you, as he blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Amen.

Another blessing: Let us pray.  May the hand of God be over you and send his holy Angel to guard you all the days of your lives.  Amen.

Another blessing: Let us pray.  May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is three in number and one in divinity[x], blessX you.  Amen.


[i] That is the Bishops’ Bible translation (1568) which was the liturgical standard for centuries.  There is no rubric for the Psalm; likely it was recited by the Priest alone.  However, if one wishes for congregational participation, Sarum Use recites Psalms by alternate whole verse alternating between Gospel & Epistle sides, beginning with Gospel.

[ii] The Gloria Patri is divided onto two lines in the text I have; this could signify the priest praying up to “and to the Son” alone, and the congregation joining for the end.  And thus for other occurrences of the Gloria Patri.

[iii] This is  Cranmer’s 1549 translation.

[iv] This is, once again, the Bishops’ Bible.  Since the Priest is for sure saying the Psalm with other people, one could potentially make this Psalm a congregational Psalm according the order given in my previous footnote.

[v] Latin has “de sancto”, could be “concerning/from holiness” or “concerning/from a holy thing”.

[vi] The Latin “Hierusalem” is indeclinable, so I’m not sure whether this is Jerusalem as the predicate or if it’s “of Jerusalem” or “from Jerusalem” or what exactly.

[vii] ie. It will extend to this time, so the blessing need not be given again.

[viii] I think this is a reference to prayers meditating upon a piece of host in a monstrance.

[ix] Following this, the Use of Sarum provides prayers for the Priest to use that night when he consecrates the newly-married couples’ marriage bed.  I would recommend adding a dismissal and a benediction at this point for the sake of the people to know that everything is over; then the bride and groom can recess down the aisle followed by the wedding party.

[x] Lit. “in numine

7 thoughts on “Order for Consecration of Marriage: Sarum Use

  1. Hello! I was googling ‘marriage vows in the Sarum Rite’ and found your blog, so glad I did! I’m writing a novel set in the 13th century and researching weddings at that time. Since the Book of Common Prayer was not written until 1547, I wondered what wording they used in 13thC, and I’m thinking it was probably fairly similar. I see you have translated from the Latin – do you think this format was used in the 13thC? Thank you, I appreciate any help:)

    • Hi Louise,

      I am fairly certain that a marriage ceremony would have been like this in the 13th century. There were probably slight variations due to local custom and the difficulty of maintaining standardised texts before print, but I would say that in the 13th century they would have used a ceremony like this in England.

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