Lady Edith’s wedding music

The Downton Abbey cast of Season Six.

The Downton Abbey cast of Season Six.

If your  household was like mine last night, along with millions of other Downton Abbey addicts, we had our televisions tuned to the last episode of Season Six and hung on every word written by series creator, Julian Fellowes, who related this incident with a woman he met in California:

I’m always very touched by how emotionally involved they get in the whole thing. I find it quite moving, actually. This woman grabbed me in California and she said, “Please make Edith happy!” There were tears in her eyes. I said, “Well, I’ll do my best.” It is rather extraordinary that these people you’ve made up in your head become so important to their supporters.

Agonizingly it took six seasons for us Downton Abbey junkies to get a happy ending for Lady Edith — a grand wedding to Bertie Pelham, and naturally my ears were tuning in to find out what music they were going to use. Several readers to this blog asked me what was the music played at the wedding and I’m guessing they wanted to know because they are future brides who want to make the music for their own weddings memorable.

There were two pieces played during the scenes in the church before the wedding — the “pre-service” music began with the “Air” from Georg Friedrich Handel’s Water Music, which is an old standby in many organists’ repertoires. It is a popular piece often used as music during the signing of the registers in the wedding ceremony. Here is an extremely slow performance by Richard Shireby:

Next Bach’s “Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV 846” from the Well-Tempered Clavier was played in the second church scene. Maybe you’ve heard a vocalist sing a version arranged by Charles Gounod, to the words of “Ave Maria.” I’ve embedded Tzvi Erez’ performance of just the keyboard part here:

For the processional, it was Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,” in which Lady Edith entered with her father, Lord Grantham. Here is a performance on the Mühleisen organ in Arendal Trinity Church, Norway, by Ole Karsten Sundlisæter.

So many happy endings last night in addition to Lady Edith’s wedding: Lady Mary revealed her pregnancy with second husband Henry Talbot, Tom Branson and Henry went into the car dealership business together, Isobel Crawley found out that her friend Lord Merton did not really have pernicious anemia, Anna and Bates had a baby boy, Thomas Barrow became the head butler at Downton when Carson developed palsy, and even Daisy decided she liked Andy, and Mr. Mason wanted to see more of Mrs. Patmore.

After six seasons, this show will definitely be missed! Good-bye, Mistew Bawwow.

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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5 Responses to Lady Edith’s wedding music

  1. David A. Egloff says:

    Many, many thanks for identifying Edith’s wedding processional. Perfect, like so much on Downton Abbey, for the occasion. Married in 1959 our options were few. Even if we had suggested an alternative to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March I’m confident the organist in a small Westchester County Episcopal church and my soon-to-be Mother-in-law would have squelched the idea. 🙂

    • Elise Helene says:

      Dear Mr. Egloff, I wanted to tell you that I also had Mendelssohn’s Wedding March for my wedding processional in April 1980. For me, anyway, I don’t think it was a matter of not having sufficient choices, but it was more that we didn’t have the internet to listen to various processionals to help us make a decision without pressure. I was quite at a loss as to how to find appropriate processional music–I didn’t have an LP of wedding music or anything convenient like that. A few weeks before the wedding, my outstanding organist met with me and played brief portions of several selections to help me choose, but I remember feeling pressure to pick something quickly while he played them and I was paralyzed by indecision. Then the organist said, “You want to pick something that is familiar enough to the congregation so that they realize it’s the processional so they’ll stand and turn toward the aisle!” So I went with the Mendelssohn piece and we had a lovely wedding, although after the wedding my maid of honor made a tacky remark about the processional music. But would she take the time to help me select something when I asked her prior to meeting with the organist? No, of course not! Unfortunately for her, she ended up with a very unhappy marriage that ended in divorce, while I’ve had a blessed marriage these 36 years and hope for many more. That’s what is important, right? And because our marriage is wonderful, my husband and I have very fond memories of our wedding day. However, I really loved “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” so I want to thank Ms. Crosier for posting this information. Maybe one of my sons will have a bride who loves it, too, someday!

  2. Mary Haider says:

    I keep wondering if the choice “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” was somewhat a “tongue in cheek” choice considering that Edith’s sister Mary had always dominated Edith. So perhaps the music was a bit of a “one-upmanship” on Mary?

    • Barbara Kidder says:

      You may be right, Mary!
      Julian Fellows went to such extraordinary lengths to weave each thread of this family saga throughout the six years of the series, that I think it likely that he had your thoughts, exactly!

  3. Patricia Johnston says:

    I was so happy to find this . I moved from Hawaii in 2013 to Los Angeles.
    While in Hawaii I beloneed to the AGO and sang with the symphony orchestra
    choir. It is great reading all about what is happening in Hawaii. I belong to the LA Ago chapter and sing with the California Philharmonic and Golden State Pops.
    I still have family in Hawaii so visit often and plan to move back some day.
    Looking forward to you blog in the future.

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