More on the clerks

What is it like to be a Clerk in the choir?

Gabriel Vick (Tenor, 2001 – 2004)

“I came to Christ church in 2001 fresh from a laid back New Zealand tour with some of the men from the choir. So when I began proper in my busy first term, I was rather shocked as to what was expected of me. It took me some time to learn how to manage my time between work, the choir and play. At one point in this first term, having lost my voice and confidence, I can remember Stephen personally coming to my room to reassure me that this was perfectly normal and that I should not panic. This was sound advice, as through my three years I grew in confidence in the choir and my degree. Oxford became such a wonderful place to be. I found much more time to branch out and know the University, particularly through my involvement in the drama scene – of which Stephen was extremely supportive (and perhaps slightly proud!). It was through my interest in musicals in particular that my singing teacher Ashley Stafford recommended a course at the Royal Academy of Music. Having completed the course there you can now find me in the West End. My experience in the Cathedral Choir has paid dividends many times over.”

In 1546, King Henry VIII established the Collegiate Foundation ‘Ecclesia Christi Cattedralii Oxon: ex fundatione Regis Henrici Octavi”, traditionally known as ‘The House’. This foundation included an Organist and 8 Lay Clerks, but now consists of 6 Lay Clerks and 6 Academical Clerks which combine to be part of the Foundation. Thus they are expected to be in sympathy with the purpose of the Foundation, as well as fulfilling the musical requirements of the post. They should preferably be communicant members of the Church of England or regular communicants of their own Church.

When can you hear them?

The Lay Clerks take part in all choral services held at Christ Church Cathedral, which are normally as follows:

Sunday
10.00am Matins
11.15am Sung Eucharist
5.00-5.45pm Rehearsal & 6.00pm Evensong

Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, Friday*
5.00-5.45pm Rehearsal & 6.00pm Evensong

Saturday
4.45-5.45pm Rehearsal & 6.00pm Evensong

*Monday is usually a “said” day except for special occasions, in which case another weekday service is done without music.

It is possible to combine the post of Lay Clerk with a second occupation or research. A large number of former layclerks have distinguished themselves in the music profession, some in groups like the Tallis Scholars, the Sixteen, the Cardinalls’ Musick and the King’s Singers, and others on the operatic stage.

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