Tuesday, March 8, 2011

O Shenandoah I've Never Seen You

February 26
1st a note from the true blogger...Meg....I figured out how to get pics on the blog again.  Please check out the pics I put up on the "Puddles, bumps, and bruises" blog entry!!!!  thanks!
Guest Blogger: Randy Gehlert

Since we've been in Madagascar 4 of our students at AMI have gotten married. I missed the first wedding because Megan was sick and we all stayed home together. For the second wedding we made it to the recption but not the ceremony. But today I made it to a wedding in which two of our students married each other. Andriamifidy Mananjo Nirina Setraniaina finally married the love of his love Robline Rabodohanitrarivony Lala Tiana. (Yes, these are normal length Malagasy names.)

Now they are a fairly modern couple so the wedding was not very traditional. In fact the opening music to which the bride marched in to was “Shenandoah” - yeah, that Shenandoah “I long to see you and cross the wide Missouri.” When I talked to the bride about this she agreed that the words did not fit a wedding (and she's never been to Virginia) but she loved the music and most of the guests didn't speak English anyway. And I have to say, it was very beautiful. They had a 40 member choir (students from AMI and the two other choirs they are invovled in) sing Shenandoah acapella. For other music including an arrangement of the hymns “Jesus Loves Me” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” (these sung in Malagasy) they had piano and a pipe organ and string quintet along with the choir. All the music was very nice.

There were only about 60 people there – not counting the choir – and it was a big old stone church. The church itself is very interesting. In the 1800's about fourteen Christians were martyred at the site where the church now stands. So, the church was built in their honor. The church is on a high hill overlooking the downtown of Antananarivo with an amazing view. Unfortunately I did not take my camera.

One interesting thing about the wedding ceremony is that right there in the service the couple has to sign the official marriage documents and have several witnesses – maybe 5 - also sign. Then the minister reads the whole marriage certificate including all the names of the witnesses. Fortunately, during the signing there was more special music – a beautiful piece performed by one of our Malagasy voice teachers and the choir.

The only other particulary interesting part was that at the end the bridal party left out of the front of the sanctuary and then the whole congregation left that way as well. I think every pastor wishes they could dismiss their congregation from the front and have no one slip out the back!

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