Seventh-day Adventist presence and input were significant at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle on May 19, 2018, thanks to the work of arranger Mark De Lisser and soloist Paul Lee.
A Custom Arrangement of an Old Favorite
De Lisser, an Adventist musician from Great Britain, arranged the song ‘Stand By Me,’ sung by The Kingdom Gospel Choir during the ceremony. It is estimated that 1.9 billion people followed the ceremony on TV or online around the world.
Many experts and commentators agree that in the midst of the usual pomp and circumstance usually associated with these events, the May 19 ceremony had a rather significant spiritual tone. This was evident through the familiar hymns, Scriptural passages, a rousing address that contained the elements of salvation, and the gospel choir during the holy matrimony.
‘Stand by Me’ was chosen by the royal couple Harry and Meghan, De Lisser shared, because of the words that, for them, depicted commitment and faithfulness within marriage. With this honorable motive in mind, De Lisser rearranged the original version to reflect the emphasis on staying beside your loved one. The idea was to focus on the fulfillment of marital vows, which reflect ‘standing by’ “from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”
For De Lisser, it was about getting this message of commitment and permanence across to all people within a marriage relationship today, irrespective of culture, faith, or belief. It was an emphasis achieved in light of the popularity it has galvanized with increasing downloads on Spotify and other social music platforms. Also, it has sparked discussions and topical debates, bringing marriage back to the forefront.
An Unexpected Role
Assistant to the South England Conference (SEC) president Paul Lee, singing the lead role in the song, was a recognizable face on television among the Adventist population. Among the numerous TV and radio interviews that followed, Lee shared with British Union Conference (BUC) Newshow he had sung with The Kingdom Gospel Choir several years ago and was asked to assist the choir for this performance. The lead role was reserved for a well-known singer. When a contingent of the choir which included Lee, however, met with Harry and Meghan, a practice performance in which Lee temporarily stepped into the lead role led to the royal couple to request that Lee sing the lead on their wedding day.
Lee’s background in music spans over 40 years during which, on a professional basis, he has been singing and performing. His musical prowess was discovered at the young age of eighteen when he was recognized on television after creating a jingle for a children’s TV show.
The Adventist Church has for long taken note of Lee’s talent. Lee was eventually asked to serve as a regional Music director for several years, before taking on his current role as assistant to the Conference President.
Since the involvement of Lee and De Lisser, there has been increased activity on the regional church website and BUC News social media platforms, as viewers try to learn more, church leaders shared. “It has provided a unique opportunity for the public to get acquainted with other sections of the Seventh-day Adventist Church website, which explain the beliefs, mission, and community activities in the United Kingdom and around the world,” they said.