Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Victorious Union

Last weekend, I went with my friends Pete and Kate M. to a wedding in New Jersey. I last saw the bride and groom, Nicolas and Victoria, at last year’s youth conference at Jordanville. At the syezd, Archbishop Gabriel, in his opening address, expressed his hope that the 150 assembled youths form 75 marriages.

Well, one down, seventy-four to go.

Before we headed out, we attended the baptism of the baby of one of the local residents. Bishop Peter of Cleveland came to baptize the baby, which was held in the monastic baptistery. I love baptisms; they remind me of my own baptism nearly four years ago. After the baptism and the churching, the parents held a reception in the local bed and breakfast. Fully satiated, the three of us hit the road.

It didn’t take too long to get to New Jersey. We went immediately to St. Elizabeth’s in Princeton, where the Youth Choir (a.k.a. Cooley & the Gang) was gathered to sing Vigil and Liturgy, as well as practice the wedding music. While we waited for the others to shop up, I had a happy reunion with my Canadian friends Manya and Katya, as well as with my other syezd friends John and Michael. Cooley had us go over the repertoire, which was made up of many of the standard wedding hymns. One of the unique pieces was “Eternal Father,” the official Navy hymn. We used it for the entrance hymn for Nicolas, who is a naval officer. For the bride we used the first verse from an Englished “Agni Parthene.”

The next day, after singing the liturgy, we went to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral for the wedding. St. Alexander Nevsky is one of my favorite churches, with its bright frescoes and architecture reminiscent of both the New Cathedral in San Francisco and a super-sized version of the monastery church at Jordanville. The beautiful interior and spacious hall make the church an ideal place for a wedding. We continued to rehearse for the wedding, though “Eternal Father” had a funky tritone at the end which gave us basses a hard time.

The wedding was beautiful, and everything worked out. The bride and groom looked very happy (from what we saw from the choir loft) and were married with Greek wedding crowns made of silver. I think we sang well enough, and even got that tritone, thanks to one of our more musically proficient basses. Fr David, one of the priests, called Victoria “Victorious,” which I think was an inspired mis-speaking.

The reception was very fun, and I got to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while. I also got to dance quite a bit! In all, it was a very enjoyable weekend.

I’m very grateful to Nicolas and Victoria for inviting me. May God grant them many years of blessed married life!

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