The Royal Wedding Gospel Choir Performed 'Stand By Me' And 'This Little Light Of Mine' And I Am Sobbing
If this fairy-tale wedding isn't a sign of changing times, I don't know what is.
The US and the UK came together this morning in a wedding ceremony unlike any I’ve seen in my 30 years on this earth. Yes, activist and former Suits actress, Meghan Markle, looked stunning in an elegant Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy dress and Queen Mary’s filigree tiara, but it wasn't her stunning ensemble — or even the captivating sermon, spoken by American preacher, Michael Curry — that did me in. In our current political climate, tensions are high; yesterday’s school shooting, which marks the 22nd in America this year, has left many (myself included) with heavy hearts. So it's no wonder the event's musical talent, a gospel choir that performed emotional renditions of Ben E. King's 1961 classic "Stand By Me" and Etta James's "This Little Light of Mine," moved me to tears. It was exactly the reminder we needed — that only light can drive out darkness, even in the most trying times.
The London-based Kingdom Choir, led by Karen Gibson, conveyed a powerful message to 600 wedding guests — not to mention viewers who tuned in from all over the world to watch the highly anticipated event. Crisp, beautiful notes bounced off the high, medieval Gothic walls of St. George’s Chapel, a structure that hasn’t hosted a crowd this diverse in over seven centuries.
As for song selection, the choices say a lot about the newly named Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who sat quietly listening to "Stand By Me" and holding hands before saying "I do." The anthem, meant to propagate solidarity and friendship through its lyrics ("If the sky that we look upon / Should tumble and fall / And the mountain should crumble to the sea / I won't cry, I won't cry / No I won't shed a tear / Just as long as you stand, stand by me") has been covered by more than 400 artists in the last five decades, and speaks to the resiliency — think women’s marches, Parkland students, and Black Lives Matter — of modern Americans in light of recent tragedies.
It also shows just how much royal weddings, and the customs of England’s royal family, have evolved over time. Meghan and Harry’s vows, and the modern tweaks they made to what can be a stuffy tradition, symbolize not only the couple’s lifelong commitment to each other, but also a new era of inclusivity in the UK.
The celebration was welcomed with open arms, and praised for fostering diversity and open-mindedness in a culture grounded in age-old customs. This time (not unlike other historically significant moments), it was the awe-inspiring musical performance that played the most crucial role in bridging a cultural gap. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who witnessed it with bittersweet tears streaming down my face.