Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the 85 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, will have its first girls’ choir perform since it was rebuilt nearly 1,000 years ago.
On Jan. 25, worshippers will hear the voices of 16 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 at a historic Evensong service, which will include the music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Until now, only male voices have been heard at the cathedral’s services.
Twenty years ago, Salisbury Cathedral was the first English cathedral to allow girls to sing in choirs at services. That set the ball rolling. There are now 765 girls in cathedral choirs across England, compared with 1,008 boys.
England’s best-known cathedral and mother church of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion will stay open to the public despite the fact that two-thirds of the historic building is in urgent need of repair.
The BBC reported on Sunday that Canterbury Cathedral would soon close to visitors after it missed out on a 10.6 million pound ($16.2 million) request to the Heritage Lottery Fund for structural repairs. That report was dismissed on Monday as “greatly exaggerated” by cathedral spokesman Christopher Robinson.
“The Germans didn’t force us to close Canterbury Cathedral during the Second World War,” he said in an interview. “So there’s no chance it will be closed to visitors because we need to carry out some urgent repairs.”