What music was played at the Royal Wedding?

19 May 2018, 09:58 | Updated: 12 October 2018, 11:21

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Picture: Getty

By Daniel Ross

During the beautiful service that saw Prince Harry marry Meghan Markle, we heard some truly stunning music - but what was it?

Discover the music at Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's wedding here >

Before the service

In the prelude to the ceremony itself, it’s no surprise to see a large quotient of British composers represented, including Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock. Pieces played by the assembled orchestra conducted by Christopher Warren Green include:

Elgar - Salut d’Amour, Serenade for Strings (first movement), Chanson de Matin

Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on Greensleeves

Warlock - Capriol Suite, movements 2, 3, & 5

Holst - St Paul’s Suite, movement 4

Howells - Psalm-Prelude Set 1, No. 2

Bach - Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541

The entrance of the Bride:

Handel - Eternal Source of Light Divine

Handel originally composed this gorgeous song in 1713 to mark the birthday of Queen Anne and it’s original title was, logically enough, ‘Ode for the birthday of Queen Anne’. The opening line has come to be used as an alternative title over the intervening centuries and, as we watch Meghan Markle walk up the aisle at St. George’s, Windsor, it seems a perfectly apt choice.

Lord Of All Hopefulness

With text by Jan Struther and a traditional folk tune as its indelible melody, this hymn is an absolute stalwart at weddings. Excellent first choice, H&M.

Tallis - If Ye Love Me

Thomas Tallis's motet 'If ye love me' is a relatively straightforward four-part, mostly homophonic motet (i.e. the harmony moves on every beat, like to a hymn).

It comes from the Anglican Reformation in England in the mid-16th century, where music was usually uncomplicated and the English text clear and audible. But listen to the way Tallis uses subtle moments of dissonance and movement to colour the words of the text and give it passion and depth of feeling.

During the signing of the register, performed by Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Paradis - Sicilienne

A favourite amongst cellists, this is a transcription of Maria Theresia von Paradis' most famous work.

Fauré - Après un rêve

It’s described as ‘a dream of romantic flight with a lover, away from the earth, and "towards the light”’ - what could be more apt for a wedding?

Schubert - Ave Maria

One of Schubert’s most enduring melodies, his Ave Maria is an ideal wedding piece - one of those pieces that you’ll know as soon as that tune starts. And as Sheku Kanneh-Mason shows (what a year it’s been for him btw), it suits the cello beautifully.

Leiber & Stoller - Stand By Me

Performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir

This choral version of the Ben E. King classic is a quirky choice for a Royal Wedding but, given its sentiment and the American connections of the whole day, a suitably romantic choice. And perhaps the first time a Leiber & Stoller song has been performed in St George’s, Windsor?

Rutter - The Lord Bless You and Keep You

An instantly evocative Rutter classic. Again, you can't go wrong with these traditional choices, and the sentiment is bang-on.

John Hughes / William Williams - Guide Me O, Thou Great Redeemer

An absolute wedding classic. This hymn will no doubt be sung hundreds of times across the country on the same day as the Royal Wedding, and with such an uplifting melody, it’s no surprise. What's more, it featured in Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011.

During the procession

Boyce - Symphony no. 1 in B-flat – Allegro

William Boyce’s first symphony is another quintessentially British choice, from a former Master of the King’s Music.

Etta James - Amen/This little light of mine

A true gospel barnstormer to finish with, hinting again at the American influence on this whole day. Guaranteed to raise the roof!