Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Choirs, a word generally used to signify organised bodies of church singers, but of late years considerably enlarged, as for example the Bach choir. Also, the part of a church at the east end in which the singers are seated. The efficiency of a choir depends upon many conditions, the chief being, 1st, that the voices be equally balanced; 2nd, that the volume of voice and position of the singers be adapted to the size and form of the building in which they fulfil their functions; 3rd, that the different members have a perfect aptitude for observing time and rythm; 4th, that they be able to sing at sight; and lastly, though by no means a least necessary condition, that they have much practice together. In most choirs there is a conductor for the purpose of giving uniformity and coherence, though often, indeed generally, in the case of church choirs there is no conductor properly so-called, and the singers are kept together simply by means of the organ or other accompaniment. Again with church choirs it is a moot point whether they are more effective with or without an accompaniment. The latter practice, which requires a greater degree of skill, is in vogue in the Eastern Church. The choir at St. Petersburg consists of 120 men and boys. In the Roman Church it is usual to have an accompaniment, though the famous Sistine Choir at Rome dispenses with this aid. In some cases the choir only lead the congregation instead of being solely responsible for the music. This is the case in some degree in the Lutheran Church, where choir and congregation sing alternately, as for instance in the great church of Berlin, and in the church of St. Thomas at Leipzig, and in England there is in some parts a strong feeling in favour of what is called congregational singing. In English cathedrals much attention is paid to choral music, and the choir is generally endowed. That of Durham cathedral has an endowment of °2,400. Some of the choral part of the service is conducted antiphonally, the sides being called Cantoris and Decani from the respective positions of the dean and the precentor. Where there is a precentor he is responsible generally for the music, its selection, etc., while the organist is responsible for its execution, the training of the choir, and the arrangement, of practices. Among the most notable of English choirs are those of New and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford, and that of the Middle Temple in London, while the music at the Italian church in Hatton Garden attracts many listeners.