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Cathedral’s choirs to return after longest break since English Civil War

The world-famous choirs at Canterbury Cathedral will return from a pause of nearly six months.

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Members of one of Canterbury Cathedral’s choirs (Canterbury Cathedral/PA)

Members of one of Canterbury Cathedral’s choirs (Canterbury Cathedral/PA)

Members of one of Canterbury Cathedral’s choirs (Canterbury Cathedral/PA)

The 1,400-year tradition of choral singing at Canterbury Cathedral resumes this weekend after its longest break since the English Civil War.

The world-famous choirs will return from a pause of nearly six months, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even the guns of the World Wars did not silence the choirs but lockdown restrictions meant the centuries-old activity had to cease.

However, now the choirsong at the cathedral is returning.

And for the first time, the daily performances of choral evensong will be streamed live online via the cathedral’s website, allowing a worldwide audience to tune in.

The cathedral’s organist and master of the choristers, Dr David Flood, said “I am thrilled that the choir is coming back into action. I always say to the choir, if you sing into the cathedral beautifully, it will sing back to you.

“The building is part of the sound you make. As soon as you put our choir back in the building where they belong, the whole sound comes together, like putting a duvet round your shoulders.”

The nearly six month break in choral services is thought to be the choirs’ longest break since the English Civil War.

Oliver Cromwell banned music at the cathedral, leading to a break in choir singing lasting 11 years until the restoration of the monarchy.

The choir continued without pause during both World Wars.

In a video uploaded to the cathedral’s Instagram, a children’s choir was seen practising while maintaining social distancing ahead of their return this weekend.

Speaking about the choirs’ move into live streaming, the cathedral’s precentor, Reverend Max Kramer, said: “The online world has been a great development for us.

“We reach thousands and thousands of people every single day through our morning and evening prayers, and it’s great to be able to make the choir a part of that as well.

“We’re delighted that the fabulous music of our Choir can now be enjoyed not only in the cathedral, but at home – wherever you are in the world.”

The cathedral’s daily choral evensong services resume from Sunday September 6 at 5.30pm every day, and can be attended in person at the cathedral or viewed live online via the cathedral’s website at: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org

PA