Choral music in worship is part of a long tradition within the Church of England, stretching back to the time of Henry VIII. Over the years this tradition has grown as more and more music has been composed, in particular for the service of Choral Evensong. This is a daily service of prayer, music, readings and reflection for the early evening, which takes place daily in our Cathedrals and in many College Chapels and once or twice a week in many parishes such as ours, is now sung in churches all over the world.
Leeds Minster has a long and glorious choral history, counting such famous figures as Samuel Sebastian Wesley and Edward Bairstow among its former Organists. The choir continues to play an integral part in our weekly programme of Services.
The Choir of Leeds Parish Church, as it then was, can be dated back to the early years of the 19th century when a choir was installed in the chancel by Revd Richard Fawcett, making it one of the earliest choirs to sing in an Anglican chancel since the Reformation.
For many years, under the leadership of many notable and distinguished musicians, Leeds was the only parish church choir in the country singing daily choral services, and the choir held its place within the “cathedral” tradition of the nation. However, it had become clear by the last years of the twentieth century that this was no longer tenable and in the autumn of 2015 the decision was taken to stand down the boys’ and girls’ choirs of the Minster (as the church had been created in 2012).
The choir today is an all-adult ensemble of approximately 24 voices, singing three choral services a week (Thursday Evensongs and a Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong each Sunday) with a wide-ranging repertoire. Eight Choral Scholarships are generously supported by the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and the scholars sing alongside a committed and talented team of volunteer singers drawn from the locality.