This Date in History: August 13, 1943 – Wedding Day

August 13, 2012

Billy Graham and Ruth Bell were married Friday, August 13, 1943, at Montreat Presbyterian Church in Montreat, N.C. Below are reflections on that special day from both Billy and Ruth.

Billy Graham (from Just As I Am):

“We were married [in Montreat, NC] in August, on the night of Friday the thirteenth, with a full moon in the sky. In Gaither Chapel at eight-thirty in the evening, amid candles and clematis, my beloved Florida mentor, Dr. John Minder, pronounced us husband and wife. Dr. Kerr Taylor, close friend of the Bells and former missionary to China, assisted him in the ceremony. Sophie Graham (no relation), a missionary form Haichow, China, sang two solos during the service. All the details took up two columns on the social-news page on the Asheville paper; that was because Dr. Bell was well known in the area. It was the most memorable day of my life.”

For a wedding present, my father had already given me $50. I had $25 of my own saved up. That meant I had $75 to pay for a honeymoon and get us back to Chicago.

The first night we went to the Battery Park Hotel in Asheville; that cost us $5 for the night. I had wanted Ruth to have the best, but the Grove Park Inn would have cost $20. I couldn’t sleep in the bed, so after Ruth fell asleep, I got up quietly, lay down on the floor, and dropped right off. (I had suffered from insomnia all through school, and Chief Whitefeather, who had come through town once and given his Christian testimony, had suggested that I sleep on the floor. He promised that though it would take a couple of weeks to get used to, it would help my problem, and he was right.) The next morning, when Ruth woke up, I was gone… or at least appeared to be gone. It took a few minutes for her to find me on the floor, sleeping like a baby.”

In Footprints of a Pilgrim, Ruth includes the following poetic reflection of the wedding day:

“With this ring I thee wed…”

Your strong, familiar voice
Fell like a benediction
On my heart, that dusk;
Tall candles flickered gently,
Our age-old vows were said,
And I could hear
Someone begin to sing
An old, old song,
Timeworn and lovely,
Timeworn and dear.
And in that dusk
Were old, old friends –
And you,
An old friend, too
(and dearer than them all).
Only my ring seemed new –
Its plain gold surface
Warm and bright
And strange to me
That candlelight…
Unworn – unmarred.
Could it be that wedding rings
Like other things
Are lovelier when scarred?

Never let it end, God,
Never – please –
All this growing loveliness,
All of these
Brief moments of fresh pleasure –
Never let it end,
Let us always
Be a little breathless
At love’s beauty;
Never let us pause to reason
From a sense of duty;
Never let us
Stop to measure
Just how much to give;
Never let us
Stop to weigh love;
Let us live –
And live!
Please God,
Let our hearts kneel always,
Love their only Master,
Knowing the warm impulsiveness
Of shattered alabaster:
I know You can see things
The way a new bride sees,
Never let it end, God,
Never – please.

What Do You Think?