John Birchenall and Sparanda Herbert 2nd April 2011

On Saturday the 2nd of april 2011 John Birchenall married Sparanda Herbet at the chapel of St Michael the Archangel at 11:00am. The chapel, located at the Catholic Education Office (CEO) in West Leederville, Western Australia, has become a popular venue for traditional wedding ceremonies due to its Neo-Gothic arcitecture and intimate seating for up to 200 guests.

John approached the Wedding Music Planner to be involved in providing music for the wedding ceremony in many different capacities including performance on the day (accompanying on piano and singing), musical direction (running of two rehearsals prior to the ceremony day) and also in a consulting capacity for the selection of modern liturgical music that would be suitable for use in various parts of the wedding ceremony.

John and Sparanda were passionate about having musicians they knew involved in the presenting of the music for their wedding ceremony and wanted to present a combination of both traditional classical and modern liturgical music in their ceremony which was co-celebrated between a Catholic Priest, Fr Timothy Deeter, and Protestant Pastor, Ps John Herbert, to represent the different Christian faith expressions of John and Sparanda and their families. The musicians, consisting of Ps Joel Chelliah and Rebecca Gawel as lead vocalists, Davia Bennett on violin and Simon Montgomery on piano and backing vocals met for two rehearsals on consecutive Monday nights prior to the ceremony to learn and rehearse the requested songs and arrange these to cater to the specific time requirements of the ceremony.

Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

On the morning of the 2nd of April the musicians gathered at Saint Michael of the Archangel an hour prior to the ceremony beginning to sound check and run a final rehearsal of the songs being used. After the final preparation and sound check the band, located in the choir loft at the rear of the chapel, waited for the signal for the commencement of the service and the first song, Canon in D Major by Pachebel. This tune was performed as a duet between Simon Montgomery and Davia Bennett and was used by John and Sparanda as the prelude song for their families to enter the chapel and take their positions in the front reserved pews. At the conclusion of this prelude song Fr Deeter encouraged the congregation to remain seated for the entrance of the brides maids as the Bridal Procession Song, “This Day” by Kirste began to play. This beautiful modern song was sung as a duet between Ps Joel and Rebecca and was accompanied by Simon Montgomery and Davia Bennett. Upon the commencement of the violin solo Fr Deeter encouraged the congregation to stand as Sparanda entered the church to begin her procession towards her groom waiting patiently at the altar with his three grooms men.

At the conclusion of the bridal procession and welcomes and opening prayer from Fr Deeter John and Sparanda had the traditional lighting of the Family candles ceremony where the candles representing their two families were lit by their respective parents. As this ceremony was taking place John and Sparanda had requested the musicians to play the traditional hymn “Amazing Grace” to allow people a moment to stop and reflect, pray, give thanks and worship God for everything that He had provided for them individually and corporately in their lives. This request was significant to both of them with the importance of faith, God and church had played in their lives individually prior to their marriage and would be in their life together as husband and wife.

At the conclusion of this candle ceremony the liturgy of the Word (bible readings) commenced. The first reading was read by Ronan McGinnis and was from the book Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31, this was followed by the responsorial psalm (Psalm 145). The second reading was presented in a unique manner with John and Sparanda themselves deciding to jointly give this reading. The reading chosen was from the First letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (1Cor 13) and speaks on the virtues of love and a description on what love really is. Fr Tim Deeter read the gospel reading which came from the book of Matthew (Matt 22:34-40) and spoke on the importance on loving God and then loving those people around you as much as you would love yourself. The gospel was followed by a homily given by Fr Tim Deeter. The homily is a talk / teaching or encouragement which has been inspired through the readings that have been selected to inspire and encourage the people in their lives. This homily was given with the specific message of the importance of marriage and the necessity for a deep love needed between John and Sparanda as they continued on their life journey as husband and wife. The message of always keeping open communication lines and resolving conflict, serving the other half selflessly and being the supporter and protector of the other’s dreams were some of the messages that Fr Tim emphasised as being vitally important to ensure the success of their marriage.

The tabernacle of the Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

Inside the Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

The marriage ceremony itself took place after the homily where John and Sparanda stated that they desired to get married inside the church and then exchanged wedding rings and vows promising to be faithful to each other and their marriage throughout the rest of their lives. This was followed by John and Sparanda praying a prayer together sharing honestly their excitement at their lives of marriage ahead but also the nerves of beginning in this new chapter of their lives.

The prayers of the faithful were lead by Ps John Herbert, these prayers were used as a way of allowing all present to join in praying for John and Sparanda in the success of their marriage as well as praying for things in the world that are important to the tow of them and the broader community. The prayers covered included praying for the church, the decisions made by governments and leaders, those affected by recent natural disasters and a prayer of thanksgiving for living in a country as lucky and fortunate as Australia. Ps John then proceeded to pray a prayer of blessing on John and Sparanda and reminded them that they were in charge of the atmosphere of their marriage and that the words they speak into their marriage have the power to build into or take subtract from the overall relationship health.

John and Sparanda then concluded the lighting of the candle ceremony by taking the two separate candles lit earlier by their parents and using these individual flames to light the middle candle, their family candle. Fr Tim reflected that this is to show the joining of two families into one new family and encouraged John and Sparanda every year to relight their candle and say a prayer for the success of their marriage to remind them of their love for one another and the joining of two families into one through their marriage.

The song “From the Inside Out” written by Joel Houston was performed instrumentally as the bridal party signed the various legal documents. The melody was shared between Simon Montgomery on piano and Davia Bennett on violin who added backing lines when Simon was playing the melody on piano.

Simon Montgomery provides music at numerous wedding ceremonies.

Simon Montgomery

The ceremony concluded  with the song “Now That You’re Near” a song written by Marty Sampson for the Hillsong church in Sydney. Simon Montgomery lead the vocals on this song, supported by Joel and Rebecca, whilst Davia added violin lines to the arrangement. This song was an ideal choice for John and Sparanda as the words reflected their passion for the church and serving inside of the church and standing changed before God. The upbeat tempo created an atmosphere of celebration that overflowed into the surrounding gardens of the CEO where group photos were organised to take place for the following 20 minutes.

A big congratulations to John and Sparanda on their recent wedding day, it was fantastic to be involved with such an amazing young couple hearing their desires for the success of not only that specific day but the husband and wife they hope to be as the years progress. A huge thanks from the Wedding Music Planner for choosing to use us to provide musical direction, advice and performance with regards to the ceremony music. We wish you every success and happiness for your future life together as husband and wife.


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