Cathedral Choir in Residence at Canterbury 2019

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous churches in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Its formal title is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury.

Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the 12th century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late 14th century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures.

Before the English Reformation the cathedral was part of a Benedictine monastic community known as Christ Church, Canterbury, as well as being the seat of the archbishop.

When King Henry VIII decided to sever ties with Rome, enraged over the Catholic Church’s refusal to grant him a divorce, the cathedral’s days as a Benedictine monastery came to an abrupt end. He ordered the Shrine of St. Thomas to be destroyed, and appropriated cartloads of treasures left by grateful pilgrims. The cathedral’s role as a house of prayer continued, and it became the headquarters for the new Church of England.

The Civil War of the 1640s heavily damaged the cathedral, when the Puritans smashed many of the stained-glass windows and stabled their horses in the nave. After the Restoration in 1660, the building was repaired, yet again. The northwest tower was torn down in the early 1800s and replaced with a replica of the southwest tower, giving the cathedral a symmetrical appearance. The Cathedral survived heavy bombing during World War II, although its library was destroyed; the library was rebuilt in 1954 and the cathedral has continued to serve as a house of prayer ever since, with nearly 2,000 services held each year.

Our Visit

Choirs throughout England and America apply to sing at the many cathedrals in the United Kingdom and Europe while their choirs are on summer break.

Our choir has been approved for a week-in-residence in Canterbury, July 29 – August 4, 2019.

It is an opportunity to spend time together, to enjoy one of the loveliest areas in England, to absorb some of the history of the medieval city, and to sing in the awe-inspiring cathedral that is the mother church of the Anglican Communion.

We will sing daily Evensong during the week at 5.30 (probably with one day off) then at 3.15 on Saturday and Sunday. The Sung Eucharist on Sunday is at 11am.

The choir is travelling as a group but I very much hope that some of our congregation and friends might come to visit us while we are there!

Getting There

Most of the choir members are paying for their own travel and accommodation but some of our singers are not in a financial position to be able to do that. For events such as this it is customary that the Section Leaders’ costs would also be covered. When we began to consider this trip I felt it was important that no-one should be excluded due to financial considerations, so we are in the process of raising funds to cover this.

How can I help?

A number of kind and generous people have already made donations to the trip. If you would like to do so, you may either send a check made payable to St. Mark’s Music Series with Canterbury Trip written on the memo line, or click here to contribute. In choose Choir Trip to England for giving type and make sure to put “For Cantebury Trip” in the memo line!. The mailing address is:

Ray Johnston, 519 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis, MN55403

Save the Date

February 16th 2019: we are having an evening of food, wine, entertainment, and a live auction. Proceeds will go towards subsidizing the trip and I hope you will make every effort to attend!

There will be more information about this in due course.


Thank you for your support.