Ceremony of
and Blessing
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Ceremony of Covenant and Blessing
David Mooney and Simon Dawson
St James's Church Piccadilly - 9th June 2001
simondawson.com - Simon Dawson's on-line Archive


In June 2001 David and I held a Ceremony of Covenant and Blessing to celebrate and affirm the relationship we have with each other.

It was a wonderful day, with over 100 friends and family there, and all ages from eighteen months to eighty.

We created our partnership liturgy from scratch, after discussing what we wanted from our relationship. We did not set out to create a gay wedding ritual - we wanted something that was relevant to a covenant between two men and that focussed on what we thought was important. However, we eagerly sought and found many sources of inspiration - including a number of gay partnership rituals and liturgies.

As you will see from the text and the images, we chose to use the rainbow symbol, marking each others' foreheads whilst saying the matching words. The idea worked well for us, (especially as we could use the font in which William Blake was christened to hold the colours).

This website is offered to all couples (both gay and straight) who want to create their own partnership ritual and are looking for ideas. There are two pages:

The webpage below gives the full text our service, but made interactive with photographs and downloadable audio files. If you click on any of the small photos on the page you will dowload a larger version. The audio files let you hear the actual spoken words from the service, which helps to give some of the atmosphere of the day.

(You can also download Service Sheet, which is a word file giving the exact text of the Service Sheet that we used.)

We hope you like the website - and we would love to hear any comments you have.

With love and best wishes

Simon and David

The Service of Blessing and Covenant

St James's Church Piccadilly is a Sir Christopher Wren church built between 1676 and 1684. Grinling Gibbons carved both the reredos (the carvings behind the altar) and the font depicting Adam and Eve and the Tree of Life. William Blake was baptised at this font - which makes it very special for us to be able to use it in our service. It is said that Handel lived nearby and often used to pop into St. James to practice on the organ.

We have been coming to this church for 2˝ years. We love the friendliness and openness of the St. James's community, The church congregation combines social action with spiritual reflection and celebrates human diversity in a multitude of forms. An example of this acceptance is the way we were welcomed when, hand-in-hand, we went up to receive communion on our first visit. We feel very much at home here, and we gladly chose this place for our blessing and covenant ceremony.

We hope you enjoy your on-line visit to St. James's too!

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St James's Church

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The Service


(Tune: Woodlands Words: J Boyce-Tillman)

We sing a love that sets all people free,
That blows like wind, that burns like scorching flame,
Enfolds like earth, springs up like water clear.
Come, living love, live in our hearts today.

We sing a love that seeks another's good
That longs to serve and not to count the cost,
A love that yielding finds itself made new.
Come, caring love, live in our hearts today.

We sing a love, unflinching, unafraid
To be itself despite another's wrath,
A love that stands alone and undismayed.
Come, strengthening love, live in our hearts today.

We seek a burning, fiery, Holy One,
That seeks out shades of ancient bitterness.
Transfigure these as Christ in every heart,
Come, joyful love, live in our hearts today.




The congregation says:

Almighty God
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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Download Audio Clip
First Reading

Full text
(MP3 file, 0.8MB)

(MP3 file, 0.45MB)

Read by Mark Manning The first reading is taken from the Confessions of St. Augustine, Book IV Chapters 8-9, and Chapter 4.

"Friendship had other charms to captivate my heart - conversations and jokes together; the exchange of small acts of kindness; reading sweetly-phrased books together; to pass from the lightest jesting to talk of the deepest things and back again; to differ without ill-humour as a man might differ with himself and, through the rarity of our disputes, to find our normal harmony thereby all the sweeter; to teach each other and learn from each other; to long for the return of the absent and to welcome the home-comer with joy. These and similar signs of friendship, which spring spontaneously from the hearts of those who love and are loved in return, showing in the face, the voice, the eyes and in a thousand other pleasing ways, can kindle a blaze to melt our souls together and weld them into one.

This is what we cherish in friendship, and we cherish it so dearly that in conscience we feel guilty if we do not return love for love, asking no more of our friends than these expressions of goodwill … Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you and their enemies for your sake."

"For, though they cling together, no friends are true friends unless you, my God, bind them fast to one another through that love which is sown in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."


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Second Reading

(MP3 file, 0.5MB)

Read by Bridget Dawson.
Love Is - A poem by Ivey Brown, inspired by the ancient poetry of the Indian Guru and Poet Kabir.

Love is not a treasure hidden away in a dark cave,
To be found by patient searching,
Or stumbled upon by accident.
Love floats in the air
Like the molecules of oxygen
Hungrily consumed by our bodies,
To be inhaled into our hearts
And manifest in the eyes and ears
Of those we see around us.

See not the body, this outer shell,
But know the one within.
For here is your soulmate.
The one you seek.
Found in every one you meet,
No matter who they are,
Or what they know,
Or how they understand it.

Love is within your grasp.
Reach out and take it.
For as you give it, it is returned.
Say the magic words
I love you
And it will appear.

To stay? It doesn't matter.
Enjoy the gift and treasure it.
For if it goes away,
Another will appear to fill the void.
Just say the magic words.




Daniel Iverson

Spirit of the living God,
fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God,
fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me,
mould me, fill me,
Spirit of the living God
fall afresh on me.


The minister says:
This is a ceremony to effect and celebrate the partnership and union of two people in heart, body, spirit and mind for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort they can give one another in adversity and that their love may be a blessing to all whom they encounter. David and Simon, now, in the presence of God, your family and your friends, you are to join hands and make your promises to one another.

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The Promises

Full text
(MP3 file, 0.74MB)

(MP3 file, 0.38MB)

David and Simon to one another:
We promise to love, honour, protect and remain faithful to one another as long as we both live. We are committed to personal and spiritual growth and to living in harmony with the earth. We promise to support one another in these commitments and in our lives, through good times and bad, bearing each other's burdens and sharing each other's joys.

David and Simon say to each other:
I, David/Simon, choose you Simon/David
To be my partner
That we may share our lives
From now onwards
To the end of our days
I make this covenant with you:
I will honour and respect you,
I will share what I have with you,
I will be faithful to you,
I will nurture you in your growth,
And support you on your path through life.
All this I promise before my family, my friends and in the sight of God.

The minister says:
Be under obligation to no one - the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else" - all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command. "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." If you love someone, you will never do him wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.
[Romans 13 v8-10]


Tune: Weiss and Thiele

I see trees of green, red roses too,
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white,
The bright blesséd day, the dark sacred night,
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also on the faces of the people going by,
I see friends shaking hands, saying "How do you do!"
They're really saying "I love you".
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world.


The congregation are invited to follow Mary, Simon & David to the font for the next stage of the service.

Processional Music
Themes by Edward Carpenter


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Download Audio Clip
Vows at the Font

(MP3 file, 0.33MB)

David and Simon will now mark one another with the colours of the rainbow as a sign of covenant with each other

The minister says:
Let us pray.

Dear God. You chose to use the rainbow as a symbol of your covenant with the earth and all it's creatures after the flood. Bless these colours here today, and help to give them true meaning in our minds and in our hearts.

  • Red is the colour of a rose, and the colour of the heart. Red is for us the symbol of love.
  • Yellow is the colour of gold and possessions. Yellow is the colour of the sun, which gives life and energy to all things. We use yellow to express how we use what we have, possessions, life and energy, to help each other, and not horde them for ourselves.
  • Green is the colour of grass and leaves, and the colour of Gaia the ancient earth goddess. Green expresses the desire to live in harmony with the earth, and not to offend her.
  • Blue is the colour of the sky and the heavens above. Blue is for us the symbol of spirituality.
  • Purple is the ancient colour of dynasties. Purple represents for us the importance of families; birth families and chosen families, and acknowledges the support and love they give us.
  • And finally black. Black is the colour of ash, of death and eventual parting. In the midst of joy and life we use black to acknowledge an eventual parting, but to affirm that these vows are intended to last till that parting comes.

Simon and David to each other:
I mark you with red as a sign that I will love you
I mark you with yellow to show that I will share what I have with you
I mark you with green as a symbol of our commitment to live in harmony with the earth
I mark you with blue to indicate our commitment to spiritual growth
I mark you with purple as a sign that you are my family and your family is my family.
I mark you with black to show that I make these promises for as long as we both live.

Simon and David together:
I mark you with a rainbow as a sign of my covenant with you and with God.

The minister says to the congregation:
Do you promise to support Simon and David in their relationship in the years to come?
All: We will


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The minister says:
I now invite you all to use these colours to mark one another in a way that celebrates your relationships with those present here today - or mark yourself as a sign of relationships with those who cannot be here.

A period of chaos ensues!

Incidental Music
"MEDITATION" (MP3 file,).86MB) Composed by Edward Carpenter

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Please return to your seats when asked


Irish c. 8th century Tr. Mary Byrne, Versified Eleanor Hull

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
Be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
Both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
Be thou ever with me, and I with thee, Lord;
Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
Be thou in me dwelling and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
Be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
Be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
Be thou mine inheritance now and always;
Be thou and thou only the first in my heart:
O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, thou heaven's bright Sun,
O grant me its joys after vict'ry is won;
Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.


The minister says: The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. There is no law against such things as these.
[Galatians 5 v. 22-23]

A prayer of thanks for the couple:

Loving God, in your wisdom you have given us many gifts. Today we thank you for Simon and David, for all that they mean to each other and to their friends and families. We thank you for the love that has brought them to this time and place, and for the declarations they have made before you and us. We pray that they will continue to grow in your love and in the use of the talents that you have given them.

Loving God:
All: Let it be so.

A prayer for forgiveness and healing of the ways in which we have failed to love:

God of love and understanding, we know that it is impossible for people to live together without sometimes causing pain or misunderstanding. Help us to recognise our part in this failure and to know your forgiveness and healing of the past. In particular, we ask that your love may heal any hurtful memories. May we know the peace that comes from your presence, now and always.

Healing Spirit:
All: Let it be so

A prayer for the couple:

God, your strength is sufficient for us all. David and Simon have committed themselves one to the other in your presence before us, so we pray that you will continue to be with them in the unfolding of their future. Give them strength and courage in times of difficulty; wisdom and love in times of opportunity and challenge; and the sharing of joy in times of happiness and success. May they continue to grow in your love, through the power of Jesus Christ.

God of Strength:
All: Let it be so

A prayer for family and friends of the couple:

God of friends and families, we are linked with Simon and David in a community of friendship and support. We pray for one another … We remember those who cannot be with us today … May we all continue to share in your gifts of love, strength, courage and wisdom and continue to know your joy. Give us growing understanding, sympathy with each other's difficulties, patience with each other's faults and grace to walk in your ways.

Mother God:
All: Let it be so.


Companion God, may David and Simon know your blessing so that in their relationship they are a source of blessing to each other and to all they meet.

Companion God:
All: Let it be so


(Tune: Londonderry / Boyce-Tilman)

We shall go out with hope of resurrection,
We shall go out, from strength to strength go on,
We shall go out and tell our stories boldly,
Tales of a love that will not let us go.
We'll sing our songs of wrongs that can be righted,
We'll dream our dream of hurts that can be healed,
We'll weave a cloth of all the world united
Within the vision of a Christ who sets us free.

We'll give a voice to those who have not spoken,
We'll find the words for those whose lips are sealed,
We'll make the tunes for those who sing no longer,
Vibrating love alive in every heart.
We'll share our joy with those who are still weeping,
Chant hymns of strength for hearts that break in grief,
We'll leap and dance the resurrection story
Including all within the circles of our love.


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The Final Blessing

(MP3 file, 0.74MB)

The minister invites the congregation to get in contact with the couple and each other by placing a hand on a nearby shoulder.

The minister says:

Simon and David, you brought us together to witness and celebrate your love for each other. Go now with God's blessing and the good wishes of us all. May your partnership mature within God's grace and may God's love surround and sustain you always.

Now may God the Creator renew us all and give us peace,
God the Redeemer renew us all and give us peace,
God the Giver of Life renew us all and give us peace,
this day and for ever.

Go in peace and love and serve the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The congregation responds: Thanks be to God!

Finally, Thanks to Those who Helped

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Mary, who conducted the service

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Mark, who read a lesson

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Bridget, who read a lesson

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Dave. who helped with the singing

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Franki, who set up the Party

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Claire, Ben and David
the Ushers

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Martin, who proposed the Toast

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Jon, who got us all dancing

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and everybody who helped clear up afterwards

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