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Church News

Conservative peer asks if choirs can return in church services for Easter

by Cara Bentley

A member of the House of Lords has asked why choirs and church services can both operate in England, but not at the same time, especially with Easter approaching. 

Currently, churches can have in-person services England, Wales and Northern Ireland but the congregation cannot sing. The guidance says: "Where singing or chanting is essential to an act of worship, this should be limited to one person wherever possible. Exceptionally, where it is essential to the service, up to three individuals should be permitted to do so."

Separate guidance says professional choirs can currently perform for broadcast or recordings but not with a physical audience in the same room. Amateur choirs cannot rehearse nor perform. 

Lord Cormack, a Conservative peer (pictured) who attended and then worked at St James' Choir School, said on Tuesday: "My Lords, during the lockdown last autumn, large churches and cathedrals were able to have services with a choir, suitably distanced of course. Spiritual health is very important. We are approaching the most significant week in the Christian year, Holy Week. 

"In Lincoln, where I live, we have a great and glorious cathedral, we can have services and we can have a choir, but we cannot have them together. It is ludicrous. Can the Minister have this one looked into? It would be very sad indeed if during Holy Week we could have either a congregation or a choir, but not both together."

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal, replied: "I can certainly say to my noble friend that we will continue to work with the Places of Worship Taskforce to ensure that advice is available for religious communities and faith leaders so we can enable the safe opening of places of worship as we move forward through the steps in the road map."

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