Wedding Song (There Is Love)
"Wedding Song (There Is Love)" is a song written by Noel Paul Stookey in the fall of 1969 and first performed at the wedding of Peter Yarrow - Stookey's co-member of Peter, Paul and Mary - to Mary Beth McCarthy at St Mary's Catholic Church in Willmar MN: Stookey was best man at the ceremony which took place in the evening of October 18, 1969.
Shortly after his Christian conversion, Stookey was asked by Yarrow to "...bless our wedding with a song". According to Stookey "the melody and the words [of "Wedding Song"] arrived simultaneously and in response to a direct prayer asking God how the divine could be present at Peter’s wedding." Drawing almost word for word from the bible passage Matthew 18:20, the original lyric is "I am now to be among you at the calling of your hearts; rest assured this troubadour is acting on My part. The union of your spirits here has caused Me to remain for whenever two or more of you are gathered in My name, There am I...There is Love." Concerned that guests at the wedding might misinterpret his intention, "I" was changed to "He", in both recorded and performed versions until 1990 when the original lyric was 'officially' restored.
The first two lines of the song's second verse: "A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home/ And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one", is largely a paraphrase of the text of Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Believing he could not take personal credit for composing "The Wedding Song", Stookey set up the Public Domain Foundation which since 1971 has received the song's songwriting and publishing royalties for charitable distribution.
Noel "Paul" Stookey recording
Stookey himself made the first recording of "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" for his 1971 album release Paul and, accompanying himself on a 12-string guitar tuned a tone and a half down: Stookey - "It was played in G-formation, so there's this beautiful second line on the second string. Everybody [has since] tried to play it in E, and there ain't none, there's no string that can do that.". Released as a single the track reached #24 on the Hot 100 in Billboard and reached #3 Easy Listening chart. (Stookey's Paul and album and "Wedding Song" single were credited to "Paul Stookey".) Internationally Stookey reached #31 in Canada and #55 in Australia with "The Wedding Song".
Petula Clark recording
(There is Love)"
|Single by Petula Clark|
|from the album Now|
|B-side||"Song Without End"|
|Writer(s)||Noel Paul Stookey|
|Producer||Mike Curb, Don Costa|
|Petula Clark singles chronology|
Petula Clark recorded "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" in a July 1972 recording session at the MGM Recording Studios in Los Angeles: included on her album Now produced by Mike Curb with its arranger Don Costa, Clark's "Wedding Song" was issued as a single that September garnering strong enough support from Easy Listening radio - peaking at #9 on the relevant Billboard chart - to reach #65 on the Hot 100.
A minor mainstream Pop chart item in Canada with a #67 peak, "Wedding Song" afforded Clark a major hit in Australia in the spring of 1973 spending 11 weeks in the Top 20 with a peak of #10, remaining Clark's final first-time release English-language recording to appear in the Top Ten of a national Pop chart until "Downtown" by the Saw Doctors featuring Petula Clark reached #2 on the Irish chart in December 2011. (Clark did reach #8 in France in 1977 with the French-language "La Chanson D'Evita"; she also reached #10 UK in 1988 with "Downtown 88" which was a remix of the original 1964 "Downtown" recording.) The Australian release of Clark's "Wedding Song" featured as B-side the singer's rendition of "My Guy" which in the US had been the first single release off the Now album and had had an original Petula Clark composition "Little Bit Of Lovin'" (credited to Al Grant) as its B-side.
Clark also recorded a French rendering of "Wedding Song" entitled "Il est temps", featuring lyrics by Pierre Delanoë: this version was issued as the B-side of Clark's December 1972 French single release "Bleu, Blanc, Rouge" and was included on Clark's 1973 francophone album Petula.
The 2002 DVD release Petula Clark - a Sign of the Times which features footage from Clark's performance at the Virginia Arts Festival May 20–21, 2001 includes her performance of "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" (so entitled).
Prior to the release of the Petula Clark' version, Southern Comfort had recorded "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" for their 1972 album Stir Don't Shake from which it was issued as a single in August 1972. (Southern Comfort had been Iain Matthews band but Matthews had gone solo in 1971: the Southern Comfort lineup on Stir Don't Shake was Carl Barnwell, Ray Duff, Mark Griffiths, Gordon Huntley and Andy Leigh, the last-named being the band's vocalist.)
Captain & Tennille recorded "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" for their 1976 album Song of Joy. "Wedding Song" was intended to be issued as a fourth single from the album and would have followed up the 1976-77 Top Ten hit "Muskrat Love": A&M Records had gone as far as assigning a catalog number (A&M 1894) for the track's single release when it was canceled, Captain & Tennille's follow-up single to "Muskrat Love" being "Can't Stop Dancin'" the advance single from the duo's upcoming Come in from the Rain album.
"The Wedding Song (There Is Love)" - so entitled - returned to the Billboard charts in the autumn of 1978 via a version by Mary MacGregor which reached #23 Easy Listening and #81 on the Hot 100. MacGregor had been discovered by Peter Yarrow whose wedding occasioned the song's composition but Yarrow was not involved in MacGregor's recording of "The Wedding Song" which was produced by Tom Catalano. The Mary MacGregor version made its album debut on the 1979 release Mary MacGregor's Greatest Hits.
Other versions of "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" have been recorded by the Lettermen (album Close to You/ 1971), James Last (instrumental - album Love Must Be the Reason - 1972), Helena Vondráčková (as "Je teď tvá" Czech - album Helena a Stryci / 1974), Nana Mouskouri (album Nana's Book of Songs/ 1975), Daliah Lavi (as "Liebe Lebt" German - album Neuer Wind/ 1976), and Bonnie St. Claire (nl) (as "'K Hou Van Jou" Dutch - album Sla Je Arm Om Me Heen/ 1983). Instrumental versions have been recorded by the O'Neill Brothers (album A Day to Remember: Instrumental Music for Your Wedding Day/ 2002) and Bradley Joseph (album Piano Love Songs/ 2006).