What wedding gift did you last purchase? According to TheKnot.com, here are a few of the gifts most wanted by newlyweds today. (Personal aside: I’m thinking the brides had at least a 95% say in the gift choices.)
Williams-Sonoma Glass Bowl Set, Calphalon Classic Cooling Rack, Pyrex Easy Grab Bake ‘N Store, The Cellar Selene Cake Dome, Martha Stewart Cupcake Carrier, CorningWare French White Bakeware
Registries make it easy for those of us needing to choose a present. And of course, the talented folks on Etsy can craft practically any personalized gift for the happy couple. Cash and gift cards are always appreciated as well.
But what if you could give a gift that no one had ever given before AND that blessed not only the intended newlyweds, but continues over fifty years to bless countless other people taking their marriage vows AND has generated over two million dollars in donations to charitable organizations?
Noel Stookey did just that in 1969.
I know most of you are asking an important question. Who the heck is Noel Stookey? His full name is Noel Paul Stookey, and during the time that the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary were together, he went by his middle name of Paul. Because Peter, Noel, and Mary just didn’t have the right ring to it.
When his fellow singer Peter Yarrow wed Marybeth McCarthy in October 1969, the best man Stookey sang a song he had written for them. While Stookey is a Christian and intended the song to convey his beliefs, he wanted to honor his friend’s Jewish faith as well.
Stookey has been quoted as saying, “The melody and the words arrived simultaneously and in response to a direct prayer asking God how the divine could be present at Peter’s wedding.”
And that is how The Wedding Song (There is Love) came into existence. (You can listen to two versions in the links below.)
His 1993 Guidepost article tells how Noel’s wife Betty helped him change the pronoun wording just an hour before the wedding. At the ceremony, after the song was over, Noel figured one and done. No one else will ever hear it.
But then a few weeks later at one of their concerts, Peter Yarrow asked Stookey to sing the song as a solo. He was taken aback, feeling he couldn’t share something that belonged to the couple. But Yarrow insisted, saying that his wife was in the audience and please, wouldn’t Stookey sing it for her.
So he did and the audience loved it so much that he continued singing it at their concerts for the remaining time the group stayed together. Soon after the trio took a long leave from performing concerts, Stookey recorded a solo album and included The Wedding Song.
But since he felt the song was God’s creation and not his, he didn’t want to assume the rights to it. According to the Guidepost article, “In the end I set up a foundation to oversee the publishing rights and to receive all my income as composer. Any money the song earned could then be distributed to worthy causes. To my amazement, shortly after the album’s debut, “Wedding Song” was released as a single and almost immediately went into the Top 30.”
This song has been played at weddings all around the world and continues today to be counted as a time-honored love song. ThoughtCo.com lists it as one of the top ten classic songs to sing at weddings.
Various artists have recorded their own versions of the song, but to me, there is nothing like the original. A sweet simple song accompanied by chords from an acoustic guitar is sometimes all you need to feel the love.
And years later at the 25th anniversary concert in 1986, Paul (Noel) Stookey is again singing the Wedding Song (There is Love). OK, he can’t hold the notes quite as long, but I mean, watch the man’s face. Really…there IS love!