Music
in Manchester Cathedral
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This chapter provides the first comprehensive account of the role of music in the life of Manchester Collegiate Church and Cathedral from the fifteenth century to the present. Provision for music was made from the start, and early documents list four clerks and six choristers among its officers. Evidence for what the choir sang is limited until well into the nineteenth century. No choir or organ book is known to have survived, and information rests on chance references and sporadic music publications. From 1863, when the Precentor’s Registers begin, the situation was transformed. From then on all music performed at each service is identified, and the result is a record, unique to this Cathedral, of what was actually sung. With the twentieth century came a sense that the Cathedral was taking stock, both of itself and its relationships with the city of Manchester and beyond; the twenty-first century is concerned with renewal: and at every stage music is involved. As a result, provision for music, be it musicians, instruments, or repertoire, can be seen as a mirror to this institution. Though driven in part by its own aesthetic, music presents an acutely sensitive indicator of an institution’s health, wealth, standing, relationships, and liturgical proclivities – and through it can be traced the changes to each.

Manchester Cathedral

A history of the Collegiate Church and Cathedral, 1421 to the present

Editor: Jeremy Gregory

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