WINDSOR, England — British royal weddings aren’t known for their soaring reflections on redemption, justice and civil rights.
But that’s what millions around the world got Saturday when the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry quoted a slave song and a speech by slain American civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
Speaking to an audience that represents the heart of the British establishment, the first African-American to have served as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church quoted King, leaving some of those gathered apparently amused, surprised or delighted.
“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love,” he said during the animated sermon. “And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.”
Curry, a Chicago native, did not stop with King. His address reflected the philanthropic work pursued by the couple, who with their vows adopted a new official title, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“Oh there’s power in love. There’s power. Not just in its romantic forms,” he said.
“I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world … If you don’t believe me there were some old slaves in America’s South who explained the power of love.”
Curry continued, “They sang a spiritual even in the midst of their captivity. It’s the one that says there’s a balm in Gilead, a healing balm.”
Curry departed from prepared remarks distributed ahead of time, directing his sometimes light-hearted conversational comments at the couple sitting before him.
“There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live.” He went on: “I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.”
“Imagine our governments and countries when love is the way,” he added. “Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way … No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. Poverty would become history in such a world as that.”