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A ghost at the royal wedding

Royal Wedding Ceremony

I'm not a monarchist, but I am a liturgy buff. So when I watched a recap of the royal wedding, I was struck by the fact that, except for the omission of a promise by the bride to obey her husband, the language of the vows and the archbishop's exhortations was old-school, from the Book of Common Prayer, not some newfangled order of service.

I was especially interested in the reference to the third person of the Trinity as "Holy Ghost," not "Holy Spirit." Holy Ghost is how he (it?) was introduced to me in Catholic school and there was much levity about whether the Holy Ghost knew Casper the Friendly Ghost. (Years later, one of my college professors told us a mouldy joke about the way a beatnik (!) referred to the Trinity: Daddio, Laddio and Spook.)

But my preference for HG over HS is more than a matter of nostalgia. Preserving the old form is a mini-lecture in the history of the language for new generations, just as the phrase "the quick and the dead" in the Apostles' Creed causes kids to look for other uses of "quick" to denote something living -- as in the quickening of an unborn child or the pain when someone is cut to the quick.

I pray to the Holy Ghost that the royal couple's antiquarianism catches on.


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Photos: The ceremony

Full coverage: The royal wedding

-- Michael McGough

Photo: Kate Middleton and and Britain's Prince William hold hands during the wedding service at Westminster Abbey, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, London, Friday April 29, 2011. Credit: AP Photo/Dave Thompson, Pool


Comments () | Archives (15)

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A very memorable and beautiful wedding. I wish them well.The only wish that , PRINCESS DIANA would had been proud of HER SONS.


OMG, what some people focus on. Old school, new schcool, who cares school. This is a nearly 1000 year old monarchy and a 500 year old Anglican Church which is as close to Roman Catholic as you can get. Antiquity is everyday life with the royals.

But then, at least thiss article wasn't about the absurdity that dead Princess Diana was the ghost stealing Kate's thunder that some other idiot wrote about the other day.

Midwestern Guy

"Mawidge! Twooo wuv..."


The ghost at the wedding was not the Holy Ghost. It was Diana.

Cyndy Greger

You get all caught up in semantics re: old school vs. new school. If you want to truly be old school, go back to the ancient Greek and read the bible and the scripture in the original language.
Then you'll see how far the Anglican and Catholic church really ARE from the original Christian faith.
Remember those patriarchates that Rome separated from during the big schism? Well, Rome left "the group" and went on it's merry way with the inquisition and etc. The rest of "the group" is still around (it's called the Eastern Orthodox Church) and is practicing as close to the original faith as you can get these days.
At many Orthodox seminaries here in the states and abroad they require the seminarians to learn ancient Greek and read original texts and to GO and LIVE IN GREECE to learn from the monks.

You'll find these Orthodox parishes in the US listed under their ethnicity usually..

Russian Orthodox Church or OCA (Orthodox Church in America)
Antiochian Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
Serbian...you get the idea.

When you start picking nits at the TRANSLATION errors from the Greek to other languges to modern-day English...well...it makes you look a little shallow and uneducated.

Just sayin'.

David Toft

What a fantatic royal wedding... I think Princess Diana is a proud mother in heaven...

Thanks to The Queen to houst the wedding

Andrew Odom Jr.

I was pleased to hear this term "Holy Ghost" which I remember somewhat faintly from old Catholic books I had as a child.

To Ms. Greger, who asserts the Eastern Orthodox claim to being the original church, I beg to differ from a Catholic perspective. Take a look at the Wikepeida entry on the "East–West Schism" and you'll see it's a bit more complicated than that and be argued both ways. In any event, we have more in common than not, and the remaining Catholic imprint of Anglicanism is apparent although under great strain these days. It's the Protestants and non-denominational Christian Churches that are the Johnny Come-Lately's in Christianity, too often divorced from much of Christian history and heritage as handed down to us by the apostles.

Here's to the return of the "Holy Ghost" ! Cheers.


I don't know about who has the original Holy Word on this. But like Mr. McGough, I'm an admirer of good liturgy wherever I find it, and I'm glad to hear the Holy Ghost put in an appearance at the wedding. (After all, it's/he's still in my nostalgic memories one of "the three men I admire the most / The father, son, and the Holy Ghost"--even if they did take the last train for the coast.)


I am once again reminded of the fact that marriage vows mean little. The absence of the vow to " promise by the bride to obey her husband" gives me pause. It is not that I think women need to be subservient, but it is the fact that this is a tradition that should be honored. Weddings are a tradition, not a spectacle that honors both bride or groom wishes.

Mitchell Young

Actually, the eastern Churches adopted vernacular languages for liturgy and evangelization long before the West. That's where Old Church Slavonic -- the liturgical language of the various Slavic Orthodox Churches -- comes from. It wasn't 'Old' when it was developed, but people are conservative in religious language so it became a living fossil (much like 'Ghost' for spirit, or all the 'thou's' and 'thy's' in 'Bible' English ).


I cannot believe anyone would take up space for this article. Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. I am flabbergasted!!!


cool article, bro

My Opinion

I was urked by "Holy Ghost". Holy Spirit sounds so much better. Ghost sounds horrid. It is a Holy Spirit not a ghost!


Holy Spirit conveys a better idea since we talk about the spirit within us, our spirit, not the ghost in us. That parallel is important part in understanding the triune nature of humans.

Loud shouts to my OE brother and sisters too.


I agree wholeheartedly - I watched the ceremony with pleasure and was gratified to hear again the beauty of the Book of Common Prayer. Somehow repeating the same prayers and service order that have gone back through the years bridges a connection from past to present to future. It was lovely.



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