Holy Matrimony at St. John

Practices, Policies, and Information:

Please read and review: Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality

The willing and deliberate desire for a man and woman to live in mutual love “as long as [they] both shall live” was engendered in them by their Creator (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:22-33). In God’s plan, they are to be living examples of the communion that all people individually and collectively may share in God through Christ Jesus.

Because marriage is a gift of the Creator that is not negated by the fall into sin, it may be performed by civil authorities, apart from the Church. While such civil ceremonies are good according to “civil righteousness,” they do not speak the Lord’s blessing or implore His grace and aid for a sanctified marriage and home.

In the Lord’s name, the Church through her pastors gives the heavenly Father’s blessing to the willing consent and solemn promises of a man and woman. In this way, the Lord’s blessing elevates the legal marriage to holy matrimony, where His Word and promise are clearly proclaimed. Martin Luther acknowledged this purpose of holy matrimony when he wrote in his Marriage Booklet that:

“when someone asks us [the pastor] to bless them in front of the church or in the church, whether to pray over them or even to marry them, we are obligated to do so. . . . For whoever desires a prayer or blessing from the pastor or bishop, indicates thereby (even if he doesn’t actually say so with his mouth) what kind of peril and necessity is approaching and how great is his need for divine blessing and common prayer for the estate into which he is about to enter. For one daily encounters all too often the kind of misfortune the devil serves up in the estate of marriage through adultery, unfaithfulness, discord, and all kinds of misery.”

Therefore, the Lord speaks His blessing to those who are married so that they may faithfully keep their vows.

The public desire to enter the holy estate of matrimony by mutual vows lived according to the Lord’s Word was traditionally declared in the Marriage Banns. After the intention of the couple to seek the Lord’s blessing is declared, the Church prays that they may live in His strong love and enduring blessing.

The usual place where God’s blessing is publicly given is the rite of Holy Matrimony. Clothed in Scripture reading and prayer, the couple gives their mutual consent and their solemn promises, employing biblically informed words. Their words are followed by the Lord’s blessing, which declares His sturdy and unwavering protection against any evil that may threaten their marriage from without or within. The Lord also blesses them with His favor so that, in this new vocation of husband and wife, they “may please Him in both body and soul and live together in holy love” until life’s end. Relying on these blessings Church prays to the Lord to strengthen the couple in faithfulness and love and to sustain and defend them in all trial and temptation. Then she remembers all families and homes before the Lord’s throne of grace and implores the Lords’ renewed blessing for all people.

Those who were married in a legal civil ceremony may receive the Lord’s blessing in the Blessing of a Civil Marriage. While affirming the lawfulness of their civil marriage, this rite supplies what the government cannot give—the Lord’s Word, the prayer of the Church, and the Lord’s dependable promise of help and protection. It affirms the gift they have already received and offers prayers that they may live in godly harmony.

When the Church desires to celebrate the marital harmony that our Lord’s blessing bestows, the Anniversary or Affirmation of Holy Matrimony is a suitable rite. Thankful for the Lord’s mercy and kindness, the Church rejoices in those solemn vows sustained and blessed by our merciful God and Father. At the same time, she looks forward to the heavenly blessing promised to all—married and unmarried—who faithfully live united to God and in harmony with all people.

Suggested Propers for Holy Matrimony


The following psalms may be used at the INTROIT, PSALM, or GRADUAL in the Divine Service, or at the Psalmody in the Daily Office. Suggested antiphons are given in parentheses.

Psalm 45:13-17 (Ps. 72:18) — With joy and gladness they are led along
Psalm 67 (v. 1a) — May God be gracious to us and bless us
Psalm 100 (v. 5) — The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever
Psalm 117 (v. 2b) — The steadfast love of the Lord is great
Psalm 127 (Ps. 26:3) — Unless the Lord builds the house
Psalm 128 (Song 1:1) — The Lord bless you from Zion


When the service precedes one of the regularly scheduled services of the congregation, one of the following collects may be prayed following the appointed COLLECT OF THE DAY.

O heavenly Father, whose Son at Cana revealed the new wine of Your kingdom to those entering holy matrimony, by Your Holy Spirit renew the married couples of Your Church in their vows, answer the petitions of those who pray for a godly spouse, and teach all Your people to pray for and help their neighbors to live faithfully as husbands and wives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (529)

Almighty God, You created man and woman and joined them together in holy marriage, thereby reflecting the mystical union between Christ and His bride, the Church. By Your infinite goodness, let Your blessing rest upon all husbands and wives, that they may live together to Your glory in this life and with joy may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (530)


Texts in boldface should be given special consideration due to long-standing usage.

Genesis 1:26-28Male and female he created them
Genesis 2:7, 18-24They shall become one flesh
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9-10 — A threefold cord is not quickly broken
Song of Songs 2:10-13; 8:6-7 — Many waters cannot quench love
Isaiah 61:7-11 — As a bridegroom decks himself
Hosea 2:18-23 — I will betroth you to me in faithfulness
Romans 12:1-2 — Present your bodies as a living sacrifice
1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:4-5 — Glorify God in your body
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 — The greatest of these is love
Ephesians 5:1-2, 22-33Walk in love as Christ loved us
Philippians 4:4-7 — Rejoice in the Lord always
Colossians 3:12-17 — Put on love which binds everything together
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 — God has called us in holiness
Hebrews 13:1-8 — Let marriage be held in honor among all
1 John 4:7-12 — Let us love one another
Revelation 19:6-9 — His Bride has made herself ready
Revelation 21:1-5 — The holy city prepared as a bride

Matthew 19:4-6What God has joined let no one separate
Mark 10:1-9 (13-16)What God has joined let no one separate
John 2:1-11 — Wedding at Cana
John 15:9-12 — Abide in my love


Alleluia. Alleluia. It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Alleluia. Genesis 2:18


When the service precedes a regularly scheduled service of the congregation, one or both of the following may be included in the PRAYER OF THE CHURCH.

Almighty, everlasting God, our heavenly Father, grant that by Your blessing name and name may live together according to Your Word and promise. Strengthen them in faithfulness and love toward each other. Sustain and defend them in every trial and temptation. Help them to live in faith toward You, in the communion of Your holy Church, and in loving service to each other that they may ever enjoy Your heavenly blessing; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (531)

O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love, and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (527)


922 Go, My Children, with My Blessing
860 Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing
940 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
859 Lord, When You Came as Welcome Guest
700 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
895 Now Thank We All Our God
858 0 Father, All Creating
862 Oh, Blest the House
790 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty