What you need to know about a Cathedral Choir Residency

A Cathedral Choir Residency is a period of time (usually one week, but could be less) when a visiting choir takes over for the regular choir at a Cathedral. The visiting choir will sing all of the services needed for that time period and act as the “Choir in Residency”.

 

Benefits:

 

  1. The choir will sing a good number of services in a great space AT NO COST!
  2. Tour costs are lower due to not needing a coach every day and the potential of housing at the Cathedral or a nearby school (University or boarding school)
  3. The choir will get to experience what it would be like to live and work in an ancient Cathedral.
  4. There are many opportunities for sightseeing day trips
  5. There is no stipulation on the type of choir (adults, children, mixed, any denomination, etc.)

 

Considerations:

 

  1. A large amount of specific repertoire is required
  2. The choir will be tied to one geographical location for the duration of the residency, being limited to short sightseeing excursions in order to be back at the Cathedral in time for services.
  3. The choir must (almost always) supply their own organist and that person must be able to play all of the service requirements (preludes, postludes, hymns, etc.). It is possible to engage a local organist for a fee.
  4. It is very difficult to have a successful residency without some knowledge of Anglican/Episcopal liturgy.
  5. Dates are booked well in advance, so early planning is encouraged.

Terms to Know

Evensong: a service of scripture readings, psalms, and prayers that takes place most days of the week. On weekdays it is usually between 5 and 6.30pm and slightly earlier at weekends between 3-4.30pm. It lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  1. Music for Choral Evensong (prescribed)
    1. Precese (pronounces pray-cees) and Responses – a set of prayers that is a dialogue between the choir and a cantor (usually a priest, called the precentor). Often the same set can be used for the entire week if desired.
    2. Psalms – These are sung in either Anglican Chant or plainsong. The specific Psalms are determined by the Revised Common Liturgy of the Cathedral. A list will be provided to the choir prior to their residency.
    3. Evening Canticles: The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – These are the Song of Mary and the Song of Simeon. Although they can recycle during a residency, it is preferred that a different set is used every night for each Evensong.
    4. Anthem – Choice of the director, but should fit with the reading for that day.
    5. Hymn – Will most likely be chosen by the Cathedral
  2. Dress: While most choirs will wear robes (Cassock and Surplice) and can wear academic hoods, this is not a specific requirement. Singers must, however, look neat and uniform (all black, school uniform, etc.)
  3. Requirements: Virtually all English cathedrals will provide visiting choirs with a printed handbook which explains the choral requirements for the different liturgical services at their cathedral.

Holy Eucharist: A service of Communion, with a sung mass setting. Normally sung on Sunday mornings only and lasting between 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

  1. Music for Holy Eucharist (prescribed)
    1. Hymns – There will be three or four hymns, usually chosen by the cathedral. Choirs should be prepared to sing from the cathedral preferred hymnal, usually the New English Hymnal or Hymns Ancient and Modern (New Standard Edition), noting that the words may be slightly different in an American Hymnal).
    2. Mass Setting – Most cathedrals require visiting choirs to sing a Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. (During Lent the Gloria is replaced by a Kyrie). Some may also request a **Credo, Alleluia and Pater Nostra (Lord’s Prayer). The Cathedral will advise any special service music requirements. The setting should be in English or Latin and should match the English Prayer Book (The cathedral will assist with this).
    3. Psalm – This may be a Chanted, Anglican or Antiphonal psalm. The Cathedral will clarify its particular tradition.
    4. Anthem – of the director’s choice that complements the readings of the day.
  2. Dress: Same as for Evensong, but without academic hoods. Robes may be worn but are not required. It is expected, however, that singers will be uniformly dressed.
  3. Requirements: Most cathedrals have a printed handbook that explains clearly the specific requirements for Holy Eucharist services at their cathedral. Some cathedrals have special responses and service music.

Matins: A morning service, usually on Sunday, before or after Holy Eucharist. It is a short service of readings, prayers, and songs. Not all Cathedrals offer Matins.

  1. Music for Matins: There are too many variations of this service to go into detail. Check the handbook for details, but most will require some responses, a psalm, Te Deum, Jubilate, hymns and an anthem.
  2. Dress: Same as Holy Eucharist.

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