Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Thomas Cranmer
Editors: Michael Best, Charles Wohlers
Not Peer Reviewed

The Marriage Service


The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony

From The Book of Common Prayer, 1559 version.

1FIRST, the banns must be asked three several Sundays or holy days, in the time of service, the people being present, after the accustomed manner.

2And if the persons that would be married dwell in diverse parishes, the banns must be asked in both parishes and the curate of the one parish shall not solemnize matrimony betwixt them without a certificate of the banns being thrice asked from the curate of the other parish. At the date appointed for solemnization of matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the Church with their friends and neighbors. And there the Priest shall thus say.

3DEARLY beloved friends, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of his congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is an honorable state, instituted of God in Paradise, in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy state Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, and is commended of saint Paul to be honourable among all men, and therefore is not to be enterprised, nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discretely, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for the which matrimony was ordained. One was the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord and praise of God. Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication, that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body. Thirdly, for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity; into the which holy state these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can show any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.

4And also speaking to the persons that shall be married, he shall say:

5I REQUIRE and charge you (as you will answer at the dreadful Day of Judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed) that if either of you do know any impediment why you may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, that you confess it. For be you well assured that so many as be coupled together otherwise than God's word doth allow are not joined together by God, neither is their matrimony lawful.

6At which day of marriage, if any man do allege and declare any impediment, why they may not be coupled together in matrimony by God's law or the laws of this realm, and will be bound, and sufficient sureties with him to the parties, or else put in a caution to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do sustain to prove his allegation, then the solemnization must be deferred unto such time as the truth be tried. If no impediment be alleged, then shall the curate say unto the man:

7N. WILT thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health? And forsaking all other, keep thee only to her, so long as you both shall live?

8The man shall answer:

9I will.

10Then shall the Priest say to the woman:

11N. WILT thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? wilt thou obey him and serve him, love, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in health? And forsaking all other, keep thee only to him, so long as you both shall live?

12The woman shall answer:

13I will.

14Then shall the Minister say:

15Who giveth this woman to be married unto this man?

16¶ And the Minister receiving the woman at her father or friend's hands, shall cause the man to take the woman by the right hand, and so either to give their troth to other, the man first saying:

17I 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, to love and to cherish, till death us depart; according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

18Then shall they loose their hands, and the woman taking again the man by the right hand, shall say:

19I.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 love, cherish, and to obey, till death us depart, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

20Then shall they again loose their hands, and the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book, with the accustomed duty to the Priest and Clerk. And the Priest taking the ring, shall deliver it unto the man, to put it upon the fourth finger of the woman's left hand. And the man, taught by the Priest, shall say:

21WITH this ring I thee wed; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods, I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

22Then the man leaving the ring upon the fourth finger of the woman's left hand, the Minister shall say:

23O ETERNAL God, creator and preserver of all mankind, giver of all spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life, send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy name; that as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, whereof this ring given and received is a token and pledge, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according unto thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24¶ Then shall the Priest join their right hands together and say:

25Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

26Then shall the Minister speak unto the people.

27FORasmuchas N. and N. have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a ring, and by joining of hands, I pronounce that they be man and wife together. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.