The chancel choir originated in the early middle centuries from several roots. Monasteries were in the process of developing musical liturgies. Teaching orders established schools. Some of the early choirs included those boys from the church schools. Universities developed boys schools (colleges) where religious teaching included choral singing. In cathedrals and larger churches, choirs developed which were open to boys and men. The participation of girls was limited to priories and convent schools. The chancel choir was established by the tenth century. Usually placed near the altar, high enough so that the sound would carry over the heads of the congregation. There were no amplifiers and the music could be heard better than the spoken word
Through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, many magnificent hymns were written. Some of these were saved but many were lost. The Chancel Choir at the Cathedral of St. John is an organization set up to teach boys some of the past and current liturgy and music of the Church.
The design of the choir is about 20 boys and 12 men. The men enrolled provide both music and a role model for the boys. The boys in the choir range in age from eight to twelve years or until their voice "breaks". The music ranges from the third century to the present. The languages are primarily English, Latin, and German. we expect French to be added in the future. The boys in the choir enjoy their work because it is challenging and is not "baby music." Our attrition rate runs from 5% to 35% per year, mainly due to voice "break" or moving.
The main service provided by the choir is Liturgy of the Hours in the form of Vespers, Compline, and Evensong. At the Cathedral of St. John, the service follows the guidelines of the church in the form of Vespers and Compline. The choir occasionally sings Mass on Sundays. Liturgy of the Hours is sung twice monthly at 6 PM. On all Wednesdays the choir practices from 4:30 to 6:30 PM including service days. There is a playtime before practice at 4 PM to help the boys develope friendships and teamwork.
TO JOIN THE CHOIR, the boys must be 8 years of age or older. They start at trainee level. As they are able to make pitch, they move to candidate level. when they become proficient, they move to choir level. We provide voice lessons both individually and in group to improve their singing skills. As they progress, the boys often receive honorariums, and some receive awards from outside sources. The choir implements the DIOCESAN DIRECTIVES FOR CHILD PROTECTION. For more information call 939-0157 or come to practice at 4 PM on Wednesdays in the cathedral chapel.
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To Praise * to Bless * to Preach