IT IS sad. but inevitable that the Westminster Cathedral Choir finds itself in financial difficulties, as reported in the CATHOLIC HERALD last week. The costs of running a school for the choirboys and of paying for the services of several professional men singers on top of the salaries of a full-time choirmaster and organist are formidable.
But Westminster, like every other church choir, faces another and perhaps more serious problem: that of its identity in the new liturgy. Since the Vatican Council put the official seal of approval on community singing the position of choirs has looked precarious. liturgy? If it is merely to lead the people, then choirs are likely to disintegrate for lack of a challenge. If the choir has a definite part, then what is it?
This problem, of course, has so far affected Westminster Cathedral Choir rather less than others because the Cathedral has a shifting congregation and community singing is harder to achieve under such conditions.
But as English Catholics become more adroit at learning and singing music Westminster will face a growing demand from its congregations that they be allowed to take their part in the services. That is when the famous choir will have to face a second challenge.