• Cecil Lewis Jr.

The Wedding Song

Updated: Jan 3

This weekend, I attended and sang at a wedding (German = Hochzeit) for the fourth time since I have been here. No! not the wedding band thing, reminiscent of the movie “The Wedding Singer”. This weekend, me and Stephan (the guitarist from my band) played at the wedding ceremony of a friend in a beautiful garden of a restaurant in a nearby town, Altfraunhofen (which literally translates to old woman farm or yard. Hmmm!, not everyone you meet can say they played in Alfraunhofen, Germany).

This was the second time we performed at the actual wedding ceremony. The other wedding ceremony was for Stephan’s niece. We performed “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (Elvis) in a Catholic church. The other two wedding performances we did were at wedding receptions (German = Hochzeitsempfang). One was with the acoustic version of our band in a beer garden. It was a surprise for the bride, from her groom. We strolled in to the garden and sang “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (in which the bride was crying endlessly, I am not sure if it was due to my rendition of Elvis or if she was touched by the gesture of her husband, I think it was because of the surprise from her husband). Later that day, we performed for a few sets for the wedding guests.

The other wedding reception Stephan and I did, I put on my Elvis gear to do an Elvis impersonation thing (I did the 1968 Elvis Comeback Special style, sideburns, sunglasses, leather). My Mom actually made me an Elvis suit years ago and I have it here in Germany. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) it does not fit any longer. My Mom made this for me, during the “Fat Cecil” years, which was perfect for performing as Vegas Elvis (Fat Elvis). Nonetheless, at this wedding, we performed (3) Elvis songs, as a surprise to the bride and groom, arranged by their friends.

My 1968 Elvis Impersonation

My "Fat Elvis" days. My Mom made my Elvis suit.

Last Friday, was a beautiful day in Bavaria. The weather was perfect for the garden wedding ceremony of Christian and Michaela. It was planned that Stephan and I would perform (3) songs; “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (seems to be a pattern for me in Germany), which really is a good wedding song. A lot of German’s love Elvis (actually who doesn’t love Elvis?). The other songs that were planned for the day, were the “Lord’s Prayer” and “Hallelujah”. A few days prior to the wedding, I had decided not to sing the “Lord’s Prayer”, as my voice was a bit unfit. I usually have a voice of iron! However an outdoor show my band had played in the cold weather two weeks previously had taken its toll. Although I could handle the other songs we planned to perform, the “Lord’s Prayer” is a bit challenging even when your voice is in good shape.

The Dynamic Duo

The pastor asked if we could replace it with another song. We looked at our song list from our band and did not have many fitting songs for a wedding ceremony. I was sure that “American Woman”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Blame It On Me”, “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, “I’m Sexy And I Know It” or Hamm Kummst (the only song I sing in German, which is about a drunken husband getting threatened with divorce by his wife, for partying all the time), would have not worked for this day. Then I remembered, I had heard a version of “Amazing Grace” sang to the melody of “The House Of The Rising Son”. So that would be the third song. It actually worked out nicely.

Some days before the wedding as we were preparing and practicing for our performance, I told Stephan that the words for the verses of the song “Hallelujah” were a bit dark and actually unfitting for a wedding. The chorus of the song is beautiful and everyone loves this song. Here is what I am talking about.

Hallelujah – By Leonard Cohen

Well I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music, do you? Well it goes like this: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof You saw her bathing on the roof Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya She tied you to her kitchen chair And she broke your throne and she cut your hair And from your lips, she drew the Hallelujah

But baby I've been here before I've seen this room and I've walked this floor You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya And I've seen your flag on the marble arch And love is not a victory march It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know What's really going on below But now you never show that to me do ya But remember when I moved in you And the holy dove was moving too And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above But all I've ever learned from love Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Now I was perplexed. Should I sing the song as written or seek some alternative. I thought I could sing the song as written, fully knowing that the people in attendance mostly spoke German and quite frankly were not holding on to every word coming out of my mouth. But somehow this did not seem right to me, as I would know what I was singing.

So, I went to the internet. I thought, surely there must be a wedding version of this song. I found several versions that were okay, but nothing special. Then I came across some lyrics that seemed to be quite popular. These lyrics were written by a Catholic priest, named Father Ray Kelley. His version was quite good, but it referred to the priest in the song and this was a protestant wedding. Secondly, it seemed some of his lyrics were an attempt to be funny in a couple of parts, which I did not find fitting. And finally, I thought to myself “what would a priest know about marriage?”. (sorry, not to get into religion or be disrespectful in any way, but this is a man that has taken a vow of celibacy and is not allowed to marry, and he is writing a wedding song. Hmmm?)

Then I thought about option 3 - write my own lyrics. So that is what I did! Nonetheless, this is what I came up with.

Hallelujah - The Wedding Version

Perform to the music of: Leonard Cohen

Lyrics by: Cecil Lewis, Jr.


We join together on this day

To celebrate love this special way

As man and wife, they start their life together

Two people will become one today

Together they will always stay

To walk through life hand in hand forever

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The bride recites her vows to him

The groom holds his tears as he begins

To say I loved you long before I knew ya

Somethings are simply meant to be

I was made for you, you were made for me

I was lost until that day I found ya

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

To have and hold, til death do us part

in good and bad, you’ll have my heart

As they commit their love to God together

The angels look down from above

Rejoicing that these two found love

And join together in a heavenly hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Now I am yours and you are mine

Together until the end of time

God bless our home and life together

In his arms we will always stay

As we walk along life’s narrow way

Let us all give thanks by singing hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah …………………….

Now, under the heading of Wedding Songs Gone Wrong, I want to tell you about my friend Tim’s wedding song. Tim had left the song selection task to his bride to be. She is Slovakian and they were getting married in Slovakia. Tim is British, so I assume the bride thought it would be fitting to have an English song at their wedding. Hence her selection was “Yesterday” by the Beatles. I have provided the lyrics below. Probably not the best choice for that day. Oh well, I am pretty sure the song had nothing to do with the fact that the marriage didn’t work out, but it surely didn’t help.

Yesterday – By John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Now it looks as though they're here to stay

Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be

There's a shadow hanging over me

Oh, yesterday came suddenly

Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play

Now I need a place to hide away

Oh, I believe in yesterday

A wedding is meant to be a celebration of the love of two people, who desire to share the rest of their life together. This day is typically shared with their family and friends who come together to wish the couple a long life of happiness. Often months or years of preparation goes into the planning of a wedding, which often comes with a pretty heavy price tag.

Christian and Michaela invited me and Stephan to perform at their wedding and asked that we select fitting songs for their day. I thought “Hallelujah” would be a great song, as everyone somehow knows the beautiful chorus, but I was wrong about the rest of the song. I would like to suggest to other couples who may be planning a wedding, that it might be a good idea that when you are selecting your music, you take a moment to read the lyrics of the songs you might use, to ensure they are fitting for this special day.

Christian and Michaela, thank you for allowing Stephan and me to be a part of your special day. We wish you all the best in life, with much happiness, good health, and prosperity. May God bless your life together.

Coming to a wedding near you!!!

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