Tudelsacks, Orangutans and Marriage

For The Wedding of:

Simon (balletomane and Scottish Country Dancer)

and Meredith (chorister and Scottish Country Dancer)


The majority of husbands, said the French novelist Balzac, remind you of an orangutan trying to play the violin. How true, how true, how devastatingly true. We’ve all witnessed it, over and over again, have we not? It makes you want to weep.


Women, like violins, are subtle, delicate and mysterious creatures, of infinite tonal potential, moods and character; sonorous, dark, rich, devious, ambiguous, deep, mother-earthy; silvery pure, ethereal, light, glittering, graceful; humorous, quirky, bouncy, buoyant.


They require the sensitivity, understanding, imagination, the empathy and dazzling technique of a virtuoso, to sing the melodies they have it in them to sing. Yet all they get, usually, is an unmusical, fumbling, philistine, an orangutan.


The majority of wives though, denied their natural role as violin, remind you of a corgi or a jack russel, trying to play the bagpipes. Darting, yapping, whining, nagging; attempting to draw from a lazy, uncomplicated bag of wind, from a great bladder of blah, a sweet melody, when all it is capable of is a droning, burping, squawking, belching, cacophonous caterwaul.


Ah well....That is marriage. Attempting the impossible. A sweet duet on a violin and bagpipes played by an orangutan and a corgi. Hopeless. Why do we bother with it?


Because it can work, has worked, does work, and not as infrequently as we are led to suppose. The impossible, like God, is worth reaching for, aspiring to.


My very favourite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach. He, in his sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin, has worked greater miracles on a violin than any composer on earth. Although it is inconceivable that such a genius should stoop so low as even to notice, let alone write for the bagpipes, nonetheless, we find that in the very final chorus of his charming Peasant Cantata, which is all about a bucolic wedding ceremony, the bagpipe and the violin converge, after a fashion. The violin plays its sprightly melody to the words:

                                         Wir gehn nun, wo der Tudelsack

                                         der Tudel, Tudel, Tudel Tudel Tudel Tudelsack.

                                         In unsrer Shenke brummt........

And the word Tudelsack, as I am sure you have all divined, is German for bagpipes.


The impossible has been achieved. The bagpipes and the violin have come together in sweet harmony and what is more, in celebration of a marriage, and in the music of the greatest of all the world’s composers! Nothing is impossible. Not even a happy marriage.


The musical miracle is pulled off by the genius of Bach, but what of the happy marriage miracle, what is it that makes possibly possible such an impossibility?


It is the vow, the devastating vow, which, if profoundly meant, and therefore resolutely kept, binds Simon and Meredith together,

                                         for better for worse,

                                         for richer for poorer,

                                         in sickness and in health,

                                         to love and to cherish until death parts them.


The groom today, Simon, gives as his wedding present to his bride, Meredith, the assurance that he will never ever, ever reject or turn his back on her, will never, ever, in any circumstance whatsoever, abandon her.


She is freed to be herself, then, she doesn’t have to pretend to be other than who she is, in case she loses him, in fear of him abandoning her. She can play the melody that she has it in her to play, she can be the melody that she has it in her to be, can find and be her true self in his steadfast, uncompromising love, secure, in complete trust, that he will never abandon her, ever.


She is given love’s freedom to be herself. And vice versa, this is also Meredith’s gift to Simon, and it is only in freedom such as this, that the miracle of happiness can sometimes be realised to sing, soar and dance.


The wedding present of wedding presents this. Far more precious than anything money can buy. It make possibly possible the impossible; a Paganini of an Organutang; a Tudelsack so mellifluously euphonius as to blend with a violin; a man and a woman one flesh.....


It is no wonder that in Bach’s little cantata they sing at the end of it all:

                                         We’re going to the tavern

                                         where the merry bagpipe drones

                                         and shout full of glee

                                         Long live Dieskau

                                         (or Simon, or Meredith) and their kin,

                                         May they be granted whatever they desire

                                         and whatever they have set their heart on.

                                                             Grace At the Reception

We thank you Lord for song and dance

                                                   Both of which can spark romance

                                                   That kindles into wedded bliss

                                                   And so to happy days like this.

                                                   With Meredith espoused as wife

                                                   Simon’s hobby’s made his life,

                                                   For love his life has so enhanced

                                                   His every step from now is danced.

                                                   While Meredith as Simon’s wife

                                                   Has had her hobby made her life

                                                   With Simon’s love declared life long

                                                   Her every syllable’s a song.

                                                   Lord, let your music of the spheres

                                                   Inspire their marriage down the years,

                                                   And every step of their romance

                                                   Adumbrate the cosmic dance.

                                                   If you’ll excuse my French, “un peu”,

                                                   Grant them a heavenly “pas des deux”,

                                                   And may a deep harmonious chord

                                                   Best symbolise their sweet accord,

                                                   And now let wit and mirth resound

                                                   And copious food and drink abound

                                                   Fuelling joy beyond all measure,

                                                   And happiness, delight and pleasure. Amen.