Joint Liturgical Studies 71
Marriage is an institution that is part of every society and religion, and all over the world today people are getting married according to count- less different rites and customs. The purpose of this essay is to give a brief account of the background and development of Christian rites of marriage, from the biblical period through the early centuries up to the formation of the main Christian traditions in the East and West, ending with Cranmer’s Prayer Book rite. Before we go any further, we need to look at how the study of marriage liturgy has emerged in the past hundred years or so. Most of the works cited are out of print, but they can be consulted in libraries. But a word of caution: much of the evidence is patchy, so when an item appears for the first time, it does not mean that it has not been used before; and, particularly with something like marriage, much more can be said and done than is actually written down.