Sunday, June 28, 2009

for (Hutterite) weddings!

Today, the kids and I attended our first Hutterite wedding ceremony. It was very interesting, to say the least!

As 'Englischers' we had to sit in the back row. The men and women sit on different sides of the room. The left side (facing forward) was for the men, the right side was designated for the women. However, Jacob was not required to sit on the 'Men's Side' of the room.

In the front of the room were two ministers. One from the colony of the groom, where the wedding was held, and the other, I believe, from the bride's colony. There were also three 'Witness Brothers' - again, I believe that is what I was told they are called. They are the fellows that handle any type of disciplinary action within the church body. They are not to discuss the wrong-doings of any of the members that require action with anyone - even their wives. Usually they are from the groom's colony, but this particular colony only has two, so the third one was a 'stand-in' from another local colony.

The service began with two hymns that were sung by 'line singing'. The 'song leader' reads a line, and then the congregation sings it back to him. I remembered reading once about this type of singing that was done in the south, especially in the churces of the slaves.

Then there was a prayer in German. Next, the minister from the bride's colony stood up to give the sermon. He talked for a bit (again in German), and then everyone stood up - so we followed the cue! I was later told that they always stand for the reading of the Word. Every wedding ceremony uses the same sermon and the same Scripture. The Scripture read was from Ephesians 5 starting in verse 22.

After the reading, we again took our seats and he began the sermon. This part of the service was entirely in German. I had learned in the past that all of the sermons that are given are from books that are written in High German that contain letters from the founders of the Hutterite denomination when they were held in prison. These letters are expositions on certain portions of Scripture used to encourage 'the saints' when the leaders were in prison. They have been read through the ages - never changing - never varying.

During the exposition of the Scripture - other Scriptures are used (but not identified) to let the Scripture read prove itself.

From my understanding, the sermon begins with Adam and Eve and God's instituting marriage. The sermon then moves to various examples of Scripture of good and bad marriages. I heard Abraham and Isaac mentioned. Sarah was mentioned. Samson and Solomon were also mentioned as 'bad examples' - marrying someone because they are 'pleasing to the eye' (later Samson was blinded) - or marrying someone outside of your own religion - because they can turn you away from God. (As an aside, in order for any one to marry in the church they must have taken a kneeling vow to the Hutterian Brethren.) The minister then moved on to the responsibilites of the man and woman within the marriage - ultimately pointing out that marriage is a symbol on earth of Christ and the church. He taught that man is exhorted to lead in a loving way, remembering to treat his wife as the weaker vessel. There were some pretty strong admonitions to the man - in that the man that does not lead in a godly way is worse than an infidel. As for the woman, she was exhorted to submit to her husband in all things and to make his leadership a joy and not a burden.

After this, the minister from the groom's colony began his portion of the service. He gave his portion in English. From what I heard, his portion was a rough translation of the first portion.

Once this was done, the bride and groom were called forward. The groom exited his pew and went to stand before the minister, and the bride exited from her pew and stood one step behind the groom just behind his right shoulder. The minister then began the vows. Basically, he asked the groom if he willingly took this sister to be his wife, and would he lead her in a godly way. All questions, from both the bride and groom, were answered with a 'Yah'. He also warned the groom to not allow his wife to come between him and the church. He then asked that if for some reason she chose to break her vows to the church and leave, would he remain faithful to the church and let her go. The minister asked the bride the same type of questions. Would she willingly take this brother to be her husband, and would she submit to him in all things. At this point they clasped hands - he then said a prayer to them (in German) and proclaimed them husband and wife. After this, they took their seats (each on their respective sides of the church). We then had to get on our knees for another prayer. Once the prayer was finished, we took our seats and sang another song in the 'line singing' format. Almost every other line was 'Praise the Lord' in this song.

Once the final song was sung, the service was over, and everyone filed out. The men went out first - and then the women.

It was very interesting to say the least!!! I have notes that I took - but I do not have them handy, so I will be making some updates once I get them down to the computer!!! A couple of the references that he used were from Timothy, Titus, and Ephesians 4 - that much I do remember.

In case you are wondering - there was no 'you may now kiss the bride'. There was no instumentation of any kind. Everyone was dressed in dark colors. The men wore black pants with black suit jackets. Most had on white shirts. The women wore dark dresses with short 'dress' coats over them (that were black). All of the head coverings were black. The only exception was the bride's dress. It is the same style they wear every day, however, hers was a darker royal blue.

If you have any questions - ask away!!! I'll do my best to answer them! I do hope I gave justice to this wonderful (interesting and different!) ceremony!


Audrey said...

Hmmm...very interesting. Were these friends or were you a wedding crasher?

KeepItSimple said...

Well, we were driving by...and saw all the people, so took the chance of sneaking in the back hoping no one would notice us ...hehehe, just kidding!!! Yes, it was a friend's son that got married. This is the first wedding of the second generation of the colony, so they were very excited! I think the last wedding was over 15 years ago (or more!)

kelly said...

I really enjoyed your description of a hutterite wedding. Being a hutterite myself, i do admit it's quite accurately described.
I really like you reference to "englischers", it made me chuckle.

I am just wondering if i could reference to this blog post from my flickr stream, or maybe even copy this text and credit you for it by linking to you blog? I am a photographer and am shooting a wedding this weekend, and instead of sitting down and writing about the ceremony, it would be handier to just show everybody this.

KeepItSimple said...

Hi Kelly...

It would be fine for you to use the information. Feel free to add anything, if you wish.

Thanks for stopping by our blog!

Many blessings -

KeepItSimple said...

From a reader:

I just read your post on “There is a season... for Hutterite Weddings”

Just thought I would share a few comments with you personally.

1. I would be really interested to know the colony in which you attended the wedding. My reason for this is because there are three different groups of Hutterites. The SchmiedeLeut (Blacksmith people) that I am part of, and the Leherleut (Teacher People) and the Dariusleut (Darius’ People). Each has their own way of doing things and they differ slightly from group to group and even from colony to colony. One difference in the ceremony for me versus the one that you took part in is that we will be singing the song without the “line singing” our colony has put books into the church so that each member can follow the song and just “sing”. Bit of history “line singing” was begun when there were little or no books, or the people were illiterate. And thus the one book was used by the minister to lead the song.
2. In our church when a couple has been wed, the bride and groom get to spend the remainder of the service sitting together, this is a tradition that has been “incorporated” into our services. Depending on the arrangement the; bride will sit with groom on the men’s side or the groom will join his wife on the women’s side when they return to their seats after being married.
3. Our brides wear a lighter blue dress. With their Jacket will be of the same fabric as their dress.
4. Wedding pictures: As I don’t know which group of Hutterites you are familiar with, I don’t know if the bride and groom will be taking wedding pictures. For our group, most couples take pictures with they later give out to friends and family.

B. Waldner, Manitoba, Canada