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Church Commissioners

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Church Music

4. What the policy is of the Church Commissioners on encouraging the use of music as part of church and cathedral worship. (321509)

The Church’s Liturgical Commission promotes and develops understanding of liturgy and its use in the Church. The commission sees music as an integral part of the Church’s worship, not an optional extra.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Lichfield cathedral is the only cathedral to boast an entire orchestra, which, three times a year, gives public performances of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and so on, but also, on other occasions, performs for worship? Through you, Mr. Speaker, may I invite the entire House here today to come to one of these concerts in Lichfield cathedral, although Members will have to pay for their own tickets?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that kind invitation. He may be aware that the Lichfield cathedral choir heads off to America after Easter, but the cathedral frequently welcomes impressive visiting choirs. If his invitation is to hear the cathedral choir in New York, I am sure that the House would be very happy to accept.

I endorse everything that my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) says about our diocesan cathedral. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that cathedral music is one of the great glories of our English heritage? It is terribly important that cathedral choir schools are able to continue, so can he assure us that they are getting all the support that they need?

As we are talking about cathedrals, I echo the views of the hon. Gentleman. He is of course aware that the Liturgical Commission takes a strong interest in these things. We are aware of all the traditions of the Church in relation to church music. We understand the transformative potential of music within Church of England worship; it is part and parcel, if I may say so, of our heritage, our religion, and our beliefs. It gives us all great satisfaction to hear cathedral music.