In a historic move, St. Margaret's Church, often referred to as "the parish church of the House of Commons," has announced that the St Margaret's Choristers, a choir for girls, aged 11 - 17, will sing its first service on Sunday 1st October.
Choral singing for girls has been increasingly promoted within the Church of England, in a bid to revive the tradition and make it more inclusive. Canterbury Cathedral has had a girls choir for some time, and the decision by St Paul's Cathedral Choir to welcome girls into its ranks last year was warmly approved by London's Bishop the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally.
St Margaret’s, situated next to Westminster Abbey, celebrated its 500th anniversary this year, and has significant links with Parliament, holding services for the parliamentary community, and playing an important part in the worshipping life of the Abbey.
Brought together only three weeks ago, the newly-established choir is made up of girls from schools across London. Choristers receive free singing and music theory tuition as well as a scholarship.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who will preach at their first service said:
"The worship of the Abbey is our reason for being here, it is our character and our duty. It has always been as good as we can make it and music has always been central within it. We are delighted to be taking another step in making that worship better and more inclusive... I look forward to hearing girls' voices in St Margaret's."
Under the direction of Greg Morris, Director of Music at St Margaret’s, the choir will be performing some of the great cathedral music repertoire alongside professional singers. Mr Morris said: "It has been wonderful to welcome the girls of the St Margaret's Choristers, and help them prepare the music for their first service. The choristers are very excited by the prospect of singing with the professional singers of the Consort on Sunday after three weeks’ of rehearsing and getting to know each other. The choir provides a fantastic opportunity for girls to enjoy singing music from the rich choral tradition of the church, receiving an excellent musical education in the process, and I’m sure the St Margaret’s Choristers will lead the way in an exciting new chapter for the music of St Margaret's."
Westminster Abbey announced that within a year the choristers will be singing weekly at the Sunday evening service in St Margaret’s during term time, as well as at further services in the Abbey and the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Houses of Parliament. They are scheduled to sing Evensong at the Abbey in May next year.