Ceremony, and In a Lonely Place, were originally written by Ian Curtis sixteen days before his suicide and sung by Bernard Sumner. "In A Lonely Place" has always been its B-side. After changing their name to New Order, the band re-recorded and released both songs under Factory Records 33. It is more of a memorial song toward Ian Curtis. They released two versions:
6 March 1981 version
The first recording was released on the date above. For more info, see Ceremony (Joy Division).
September 1981 version
After recording Procession, the New Order band decided that the original version sounded too much like Joy Division. Gillian Gilbert joined the band, playing guitar. The vocals were much less "spacious and atmospheric," less post-punk and more alternative rock. It's sleeve was white with a blue stripe, but similar to the original 12". However, they ran out of sleeves, and used another sleeve (see above). The sleeve showed a dog carrying a torch, with the words "Veritas" meaning "Truth" in Latin. This version is used for Substance.
For Record Store Day, the single was re-issued on April 2011. It had Ceremony and In A Lonely Place (the March version) on the A-side and the Heart and Soul version of Ceremony by Joy Division on the B-side. However, the B-side contains the rare full Joy Division track of "In A Lonely Place," in which the Heart and Soul boxset cuts it short.
Ian Curtis - Wrote the lyrics, and practised them.
Bernard Sumner - Singer
Gillan Gilbert - Guitarist (September version only)
Martin Hannett - Producer
Ceremony made it to the top of the UK Independent Singles chart. Allmusic said in this review: The debut New Order single was actually one of the last songs written by Joy Division and sounds it, not least because of Martin Hannett's production and the tense, strong energy that that band made legendary. However, like "Love Will Tear Us Apart," it also showed a new warmth and spirit, a sense that while the frustrations of connection still dominated Ian Curtis's lyrics, a more optimistic surge of energy carried all before it in the end. Peter Hook's bass sounds less ominous and more like a promise of a new beginning, Bernard Sumner's lead guitar riff a recharged way to brighter visions. Sumner's singing is restrained and still very much in Curtis's vein, unsurprising for someone who never expected to be the vocalist, but effective nonetheless, with the wounded, gently human edge that would become his own calling card already starting to appear. As a valedictory moment to what was past and as its own effort, "Ceremony" is a beauty.
This is why events unnerve me, They find it all, a different story, Notice whom for wheels are turning, Turn again and turn towards this time, All she ask's the strength to hold me, Then again the same old story, World will travel, oh so quickly, Travel first and lean towards this time. Oh, I'll break them down, no mercy shown, Heaven knows, it's got to be this time, Watching her, these things she said, The times she cried, Too frail to wake this time. Oh I'll break them down, no mercy shown Heaven knows, it's got to be this time, Avenues all lined with trees, Picture me and then you start watching, Watching forever, forever, Watching love grow, forever, Letting me know, forever.