Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

The Rosabrother and his fiancée are getting wed (huzzah and yay!) and have asked me to do a reading at the service, which will be a civil one next year. There are Rules about what can be read at civil weddings, so I can’t just break out 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and be done*.

I threw myself on the mercy of the internet, and a couple of friends suggested this site.

So far that site has suggested the following:

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Yes, very nice. Except I am not standing up at my brother’s wedding and reading out the code poem for a French Resistance worker who was shot in Ravensbrück.

The next suggestion was

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Shall I not reference the orchestras at the concentration camps at my brother’s wedding? Just a thought? Might be a bit of a downer?

Does anybody at Wedding Magazine have a brain between their ears?

It’ll be “Eskimo Nell**” at this rate, mark my words.

*And I’m not reading anything from Song of Songs in front of my mother, so just hush, thank you.

**Google At Your Peril, it’s a rugby song, and therefore, as one website has it, “contains plenty of four-letter words as well as violence & male sexual vanity.”

17 thoughts on “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

  1. The Cohen song is beuatiful, mind. Just not suitable. He’s not really a hearts-and-flowers kind of songwriter.

  2. I think you’d not be allowed to read from Song of Songs – it being from the Bible and all? But I quite agree, it’s not for reading aloud in front of your/my/anyone’s mother.

  3. This is why our holy Mother the Church has a lectionary, so that squeamish relatives don’t have the opportunity to avoid the juicy bits of the Bible.

  4. It’s a little bit corny, but the words from the song (From this moment) by Shania Twain are actually very moving (at least, I thought so.)

    I even used them in a lesson on marriage when I was teaching RE in a Catholic School.

    I do swear that I’ll always be there. I’d give anything
    and everything and I will always care. Through weakness
    and strength, happiness and sorrow, for better, for worse,
    I will love you with every beat of my heart.

    From this moment life has begun
    From this moment you are the one
    Right beside you is where I belong
    From this moment on

    From this moment I have been blessed
    I live only for your happiness
    And for your love I’d give my last breath
    From this moment on

    I give my hand to you with all my heart
    Can’t wait to live my life with you, can’t wait to start
    You and I will never be apart
    My dreams came true because of you

    From this moment as long as I live
    I will love you, I promise you this
    There is nothing I wouldn’t give
    From this moment on

    You’re the reason I believe in love
    And you’re the answer to my prayers from up above
    All we need is just the two of us
    My dreams came true because of you

  5. Wendy Cope is always worth a look:

    Love, love, love,
    Love, love, love,
    Love, love, love,
    Dooby doo dooby doo,
    All you need is love,
    Dooby dooby doo,
    All you need is love,
    Dooby dooby doo,
    All you need is love,
    or, failing that, alcohol.

    More here, some of it is capable of being quite moving:

  6. On the reading a song theme, what about 500 miles by the proclaimers? (I know of someone who had this as the song they walked out to, at thteir wedding.) The words work well if you can cope with the Scottishness!

  7. I take your point about Leo Marks’ poem having been used as a code poem by someone who was subsequently killed, but it was still written out of love for a specific person, (admittedly one whose death he had just heard about if I remember correctly). His autobiography, Silk and Cyanide, is one of my absolute favourite books.

    As for the reading… Shakespeare? Can’t go wrong with something from Shakespeare surely. Admittedly it might need narrowing down a bit to a specific excerpt.

  8. Farli beat me to it. I was going to suggest Shakespeare…
    To wed or not to wed, that is the question
    Whether it be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune….

    Sorry, just kidding.

    What about the Bard’s “Can I compare thee to a summer’s day?” or Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to his love” …come live with me and be my love…

    Eliz. Barrett Browning: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. a ref to God right at the end. Allowed?

    Problem with poetry that is not about death/separation/loss is that it starts to fall into the Song of Songs category. You may need to provide earplugs for the sensitive.

  9. I’ll risk you throwing something at me. What about ‘We Two,’ by AA Milne?

    “Wherever I go there’s always Pooh,
    There’s always Pooh and me…”

    A google should find the rest of the poem. The vicar preached on it at my brother’s (church) wedding.


  10. You might consider a Shakespeare Sonnet:

    LET me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:—

    O no! it is an ever-fixèd mark
    That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom:—

    If this be error, and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    or, Herrick’s “To Anthea”:

    BID me to live, and I will live
    Thy Protestant to be;
    Or bid me love, and I will give
    A loving heart to thee.

    A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
    A heart as sound and free
    As in the whole world thou canst find,
    That heart I’ll give to thee.

    Bid that heart stay, and it will stay,
    To honour thy decree;
    Or bid it languish quite away.
    And ‘t shall do so for thee.

    Bid me to weep, and I will weep
    While I have eyes to see;
    And having none, yet I will keep
    A heart to weep for thee.

    Bid me despair, and I’ll despair,
    Under that cypress tree;
    Or bid me die, and I will dare
    E’en Death, to die for thee.

    Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
    The very eyes of me,
    And hast command of every part,
    To live and die for thee.

    One of my favourite love poems, which may not be suitable for reading at a wedding is by Yeats:

    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half-light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

    but this example of steadfast love from Emily Dickinson might be suitable:

    Of all the souls that stand create
    I have elected one.
    When sense from spirit files away,
    And subterfuge is done;

    When that which is and that which was
    Apart, intrinsic, stand,
    And this brief tragedy of flesh
    Is shifted like a sand;

    When figures show their royal front
    And mists are carved away,–
    Behold the atom I preferred
    To all the lists of clay!

    For something very romantic, there’s Elizabeth Barret-Browning’s:

    HOW do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

    I love thee to the level of everyday’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.

    Hope it helps!

  11. It was very funny in Gavin & Stacey when they renewed their vows to the words of Ben, by Michael Jackson.

    And do we really think the average registrar would know what was from the Bible and what wasn’t if you steer clear of 1 Corinthians and read from a sheet of A4?

  12. birdie, Londiniensis, you’ve never met the Rosamummy, have you? She’s fabulous and all, but I’d rather pick a fight with an angry rhino.

  13. i carry your heart with me

    i carry your heart with me
    (i carry it in my heart)
    i am never without it
    (anywhere i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)

    i fear no fate
    (for you are my fate,my sweet)
    i want no world
    (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart
    (i carry it in my heart)

    Edward Estlin Cummings

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