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Southwark Cathedral girls' choir celebrates 10th anniversary

Southwark Cathedral's girls' choir has marked its tenth anniversary by singing a choral evensong attended by past choristers and their parents.

Southwark Cathedral girls' choir celebrates 10th anniversary
Photo by Martin Gwilliams
Southwark Cathedral girls' choir celebrates 10th anniversary
Photo by Martin Gwilliams

"Southwark remains the only great cathedral church in London with a girls' choir," said the Dean of Southwark writing in the service sheet. "That gives us some sense of pride because we have a tradition that pushes at boundaries and adventures where others may follow more confidently at a later date."

The thirty strong choir attracts girls from across the capital but more than a third are from Southwark. Several attend the the Cathedral Primary School in Redcross Way and St Saviour's & St Olave's School at Bricklayers Arms. One chorister is from Notre Dame School in St George's Road.

The service on Thursday, St Swithun's Day, was almost a decade to the day since the choir first sang evensong. Since 2000 the girl's choir has toured Norway, the Czech Republic, France and Rome, performed in a Promenade Concert and appeared live on radio and television.

"In singing evensong, we are not some kind of ecclesiastical branch of the Sealed Knot Society re-enacting events from the 17th century for our own enjoyment," said Canon Lucy Winkett of St Paul's Cathedral who was the preacher. "We are attempting to sing with God a new creation into being.

"Girls, young women, old women take their place in the worship of the historical church alongside men after the example of young Miriam, Moses's sister, who leads her people in song as they celebrate their liberation from slavery. Miriam teaches us, men and women, to sing to a God who sets us free."

She claimed music communicates, across cultures and languages, the mystery of love and that sacred music sung in a sacred space invites us to claim liturgy as a detox against the sickness of consumerism.

"Even when the languages are not translatable, even when the chant seems inexplicable or impenetrable, girls and women sing in our sacred spaces in the tradition of the female character in the Book of Proverbs."

A lesson was read by the Master of the Launderers Company who sponsor a choir member known as the Launderer Chanter.

The final hymn was 'Angel Voices Ever Singing'. The service was followed by a reception in the courtyard.

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