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Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London (Choir)

Founded: 1127 - London, England


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.

The 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. This meant that both choir and organ now had to fill a much larger space encompassing both Quire and Dome areas. 1872 was an important year: a new organ was built and the Cathedral also appointed John Stainer as Organist.

Stainer proposed a choir of 40 boys and 18 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.

Present day

The present choir consists of 30 choristers (boy trebles), eight probationers (who will become choristers) and 18 adults: six counter-tenors (or altos), six tenors and six basses. At the heart of the choir’s very being is the monastic tradition of singing services in the Cathedral. Evensong is sung every day, and on Sundays there are three Choral Services - Mattins, Eucharist and Evensong.

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.

St Paul’s Cathedral Chorus

The Cathedral Chorus is an amateur choir which meets to augment the Cathedral Choir. The Chorus was formed by Sir John Stainer and has enjoyed many years of supporting the music of St Paul’s.

Source: St Paul’s Cathedral Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008)

John Scott: Short Biography | Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London | Recordings of Vocal Works

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




David Willcocks

Boys' Choir

BWV 244 [sung in English]

Links to other Sites

St Paul's Cathedral - Music & Choir
Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London (

Choir, St. Paul's Cathedral, London (Victorian Web)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 03:55