Sunday, 9 September 2012

On the Importance of Getting the Words Right

You know, I'm feeling in a very nervous, edgy mood this evening. All caused by a minor slip-up at this afternoon's "handfasting". Which is a shame, because it was a lovely occasion and Maigret and Doner have a great future to look forward to together.

Thing is, we like to keep the language fairly solemn and traditional at a handfasting. It all adds to the sense of the occasion - and that's what I like to think is important.

The first line of the service is "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to recognise the joining together of this man/woman and this man/woman...." And that was what I read.

But that's not what I'm supposed to say. We all agreed when we produced the liturgy that "Dearly beloved" is pronounced "Dearly belovéd." Which you can see is totally different. If you say "beloved" and not "belovéd" it doesn't sound half so formal. And so the question is - does it count?

I'm gonna be really gutted if I've just conducted an invalid handfasting. Not least because we've no idea what the definition of a valid handfasting is. After all, being, as it is, a relatively commitment-free recognition of a normally thoroughly previously consummated relationship, it's hard to see what we've achieved in the ceremony anyway. And there's no legal implications. No tax ramifications. And the Beaker Big Book of Rules doesn't even say people have to be "single" in the first place. There is no unhandfasting ceremony, so if two people want to be united to each other despite having been united to other people first, there's a kind of inherent open-endedness to the whole framework that means the potential is all a bit endless and free-wheeling. Which does have the advantage, on this occasion, that I can just get Maigret and Doner back in on Monday, and we can handfast 'em all over again. On the whole, that seems like the wisest move.

1 comment :

  1. Not sure that hand fastening is a good substitute for that old fashioned model of 'living in sin'.

    Not that I have any experience of it you understand, but I know many who've tried it numerous times and seem to thrive on it.

    And the beauty of living in sin, is that the Church recognises it as a half-way house to making a commitment with the full nuptials, which pay handsomely.

    I can imagint the Clergy on the initial marriage preparation home visit being quite OK with living in sin, after all, it's fairly minor on the Thomas Acquinus scale of sin and is imminently forgiveable as it can be clearly defined.

    But'hand fastening'? What on earth is that? It's something and nothing, it can't be put on the marriage preparation dossier made on all applicants for Church marriages and doesn't fit in at all well with the glitzy Church Wedding website.

    No, I prefer the honesty of living in sin, to the rather, namby, pamby hand fastening. Living in sin is full blooded human frailty, albeit, quite an enjoyable one. Hand fastening sounds quite miserable in contrast.


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