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Choir & Musicians
There has been a choir of boys and gentlemen at St Paul's Cathedral for over nine centuries. The earliest records date from 1127, when the Bishop of London, Richard de Belmeis, founded what was the first choir school and made provision for 'almonry' boys to serve the cathedral.
2nd of December 1697 saw the opening of Wren's great cathedral following the Great Fire of 1666. John Blow, the Minister of the Choristers, wrote his anthem I was glad when they said unto me to be sung at this grand occasion. He was assisted by his pupil Jeremiah Clarke, who was to become the first official Organist of the new Cathedral. Purcell's Te Deum and Jubilate was also performed, accompanied by Father Smith's large new organ, esteemed the best in Europe according to the diarist John Evelyn.
In 1860 a significant change in the building took place when the screen on which the organ was housed was removed and in 1872 the Cathedral took two major steps – building a new organ and appointing John Stainer as Organist.
Stainer proposed a choir of 40 boys and 18 men (or Vicars Choral) to achieve the necessary vocal power to fill the cathedral following the removal of the choir-screen. He demanded more rehearsal time for the Vicars Choral and encouraged a more professional approach altogether. This meant that he was able to extend the musical repertoire enormously, and began to sow the seeds of the musical tradition we know today.
The present Cathedral Choir consists of 30 choristers (boy trebles), eight probationers (who will become choristers) and 12 professional adult singers (or Vicars Choral): four altos, four tenors and four basses.
At the very heart of the Choir's being is the ancient monastic tradition of singing daily services. You can hear the Choir during term time as follows.
Tuesday 17:00 Evensong (Choristers/Full Choir alternate weeks)
Wednesday 17:00 Evensong
Thursday 17:00 Evensong (Vicars Choral)
Friday 17:00 Evensong (unaccompanied)
Saturday 17:00 Evensong
Sunday 10:15 Mattins
In recent years the Choir has established itself as one of the major forces in British church music. The size of the choir and its mature, professional tone set it apart from any other comparable group of singers. Outside regular duties in the cathedral the Choir frequently gives concerts and broadcasts and has many notable recordings to its credit. For more information on our recordings please visit the St Paul's Cathedral online shop