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Bring singing back to churches once safe, Church of England urges Government

by Press Association

Singing should be allowed in churches as soon as it is considered safe, the Church of England has said.

Current Government guidance says singing and playing instruments – with the exception of the church organ – should be avoided, as officials continue to review scientific and medical advice around how those activities can be managed safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick referred to the particular problem of exhalation spreading droplets further during the singing of hymns.

The Church of England, together with the Royal School of Church Music, has encouraged the Government to be proactive in ensuring music-making can resume in churches and cathedrals once it is safe to do so.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said: “We know that for church musicians this remains a difficult time and many are anxious to know the date it will be possible to sing and play together again.

“The most recent guidance now allows for organ practice, providing the usual precautions on social distancing are observed, which will be of encouragement, yet before permitting choirs to resume the Government is awaiting the latest scientific and medical advice.

“We are encouraging the Government to be alert to the consequences of our choirs’ continued silence – and to take a proactive approach to allowing singing to return to our churches and cathedrals as soon as it is possible to do so safely.

“This way we can safeguard our choral tradition which many believe to be the finest in the world.”

Royal School of Church Music director Hugh Morris said: “We know from the work we have been doing to support church musicians up and down the land that they are longing to express themselves in music making; and we endorse the encouragement to the Government to be alert to the importance of allowing a safe return of choirs and singing to all our churches.

“The ministry of music is such a vital part of the life of the church, and choral music is a rich part of the tapestry of worship.”

Churches and other places of worship will open for private prayer from June 15, while full resumption of services are not expected until at least July 4.

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