For Paul Lee, assistant to the president for the South England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the invitation to sing at a royal wedding was a surprise out of the blue.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose the song for their wedding at Windsor castle as, for them, the words depicted commitment and faithfulness within marriage.
Paul Lee got involved as he had previously sung with The Kingdom Gospel Choir, and was asked to assist with the choir for the royal performance. The lead role was reserved for a well-known singer, however, during a practice performance with Harry and Meghan present, Paul temporarily stepped in to the lead role. The couple loved his performance and requested that he sing the lead on the day.
WATCH: Paul Lee talks about the background to the song — and his involvement as soloist
While not many of the 1.9 billion people around the world who watched the royal wedding on May 19 would have known that Paul is a Seventh-day Adventist, he has not hidden the fact in a series of media interviews that followed in the days after the ceremony. Nor was he the only Adventist involved. It was another Adventist, Mark De-Lisser, who arranged the song sung by The Kingdom Gospel Choir, “Stand by Me.”
Mark rearranged the original version to reflect the emphasis of staying beside your loved one, in fulfilment of the marital vows that reflect “standing by” “…from, this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…” For Mark, it was about getting this message of commitment and permanence across to all people within relationships today, irrespective of culture, faith or belief.
This emphasis was achieved not just via increased downloads on Spotify and other social music platforms, but in the discussions and topical debates it has sparked, bringing marriage back to the forefront.
The quality of Adventist music is well recognized in the British Media. Paul is frequently heard on the BBC’s Songs of Praise where another Adventist, Ken Burton, often assists with music arrangements and performances.
WATCH: Paul and Ken in conversation together in “Music In My Life”
Paul's background in music spans over 40 years where on a professional basis he's been singing and performing. His prowess was discovered at just eighteen where he was recognized on TV after creating a jingle for the children's TV show Metal Mickey, but his great love is Gospel music.
His skills have benefited the Adventist Church over many years and for a time he served as Music director in the South England Conference before taking on his current role as Assistant to the President.
Since the involvement of both Paul and Mark, there has been increased activity on the national Church website and social media platforms as the public have sought to discover more about the talented singer and the song arranger.
This article was written by Richard Daly and Sam Davies and originally appeared on TED News Network, the Trans-European Division’s official news website. Image credit: video still.
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