The Choirs of St Albans Cathedral
The ancient Benedictine monastery at St Albans had a distinguished musical history before 1539 (when the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII). Being the premier monastery in the land, the Abbot was able to press-gang (i.e. forcibly make) boys to join the choir from all over the country. When the Abbey church became a cathedral in 1877 a boys choir was again formed after 238 years but, like today, they were local schoolboys who committed to sing services and attend rehearsal every day of the week, except one, during school term time.
There are separate boys & girls choirs here at St Albans, the Cathedral Choir, and the Abbey Girls Choir.
Unlike the ancient English cathedrals there is no residential choir school so the choristers rehearse before and after normal school at 7.40 am and 4 pm ending with the service of Choral Evensong at 5pm on weekdays. On Friday evenings they are joined by the gentlemen of the choir (Layclerks) for up to two hours of rehearsal and then sing three choral services on Saturday and Sunday, which takes up a major proportion of their weekend.
The Cathedral Choir comprises boys (the choristers) aged from 8 to 14 years old and twelve Lay Clerks who join with the choristers at weekend services, greater Feast days, concerts and tours to make up the full Cathedral Choir. The Lay Clerks are a dedicated and highly skilled group of musicians who nevertheless, in the main, earn their living outside the music profession.
The Abbey Girls Choir was formed in 1996 to offer the same musical opportunities for girls as that enjoyed by the boys. Over the years the choir has built up its own reputation with radio and television broadcasts, has sung world premieres of major choral works, and has toured overseas, including two tours of the USA in 2003 and 2010.
The dedication of the choristers and their parents is tremendous. The choristers themselves receive in return first-class musical tuition, and also develop skills which will help them in their adult life – concentration, organization, team-work and self-discipline.
If your son or daughter is interested in joining either the Cathedral Choir (boys) or the Abbey Girls Choir, then we would love to hear from you. Tel: 01727 890245 or e-mail:
Further information on the choirs can be found by clicking on the links on the left-hand menu.
The Abbey Singers comprise ex-Cathedral choristers ages 14-18, and sing occasional Evensongs and at the Parish Eucharist. Audition is by invitation.
St Albans Cathedral has a thriving ex-choristers association, which aims to provide a point of contact between current and former choristers, lay clerks, & music staff. Click here to access the association's website
St Albans Cathedral Music Department
Tel: 01727 890245