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UK News

'Loss of companionship': Church choirs say singing ban is fracturing their community

by Premier Journalist

As churches begin to reopen across the country, many are finding it difficult to readjust to services that are void of any collective sung worship.

As per the most recent government guidelines, congregational singing is prohibited as it could increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

If the church service is held outside, "small groups of professional singers" are permitted to sing in front of worshippers, according to the guidance. However, when holding services inside, there is to be "no group singing when worshippers are present". In addition, the Government notes that, when inside, "one individual only should be permitted to sing or chant, and the use of plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect worshippers from them". 

This presents an issue for church choirs, whose singers are used to enjoying regular rehearsals in addition to weekly Sunday performances. Now, with these activities prohibited for the foreseeable future, the omission of regular socialising and musical fellowship has had an adverse effect on many.  

"When the choir doesn't meet, one loses the companionship," said one conductor, Delyth Morgans Phillips, who authored the Companion to Caneuon Ffydd - a reference book on popular hymns. "We are a very social bunch in Corisma and we meet every fortnight to sing but also to laugh and put the world to rights."

"I miss the choir terribly," a member of the Foel Male voice choir added to the BBC. "It's a rather bleak summer this year - I've sung all my life. I often wonder if we will be allowed to sing again."

John Jones, the conductor of Cor Meibion y Brythoniaidoss, said it was the "loss of companionship and banter" that was most painful. 

"I just hope that a vaccine comes soon," he said. "But, like all the choir members, I miss the singing as well as the socialising - singing is good for the soul, but must be safe as well."

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