Book the Clerkes to sing at your church service in Yorkshire.
Versatile and professional
We're liturgically sensitive, adapting our music to your style of worship. We can work with your existing organist and musicians, bring our own, or sing unaccompanied.
Whatever we do, we'll discuss all the details with you in advance.
No cost, no catch
We don't charge a fee or expenses -- all our costs are covered by our other activities and our singers give their time for free.
We exist so that parish churches without regular choirs of their own can benefit from choral music for special services.
What will you sing?
Whatever suits! Seriously, we're very flexible when it comes to music. If your service has a particular theme, we can recommend music to fit that theme. If not, we can keep things simple by offering you our extensive list of current repertoire to choose from. But we also like learning new music, so if there's something you have in mind that isn't on our list, just ask.
We can provide:
- psalms (Anglican chant or congregational)
- choral hymns
- fully sung services (eucharist, mass, requiem) in English or Latin
Can you learn the music we use?
Absolutely. If you have a service setting that your congregation knows, let us have it in advance and we'll rehearse it so we can lead the congregational singing. We're also very happy to learn new hymns and anthems -- whatever you like.
Can you work with our organist or music group?
Yes. Put us in touch and we’ll liaise with them directly. If your church is close to central York, where most of us live, we might be available to meet up for a rehearsal with your musicians in advance. If not, we can manage just fine on the day.
We don't have an organist or music group available. Is that a problem?
Not at all. We may be able to bring along our own organist, if we have enough notice.
But actually, nearly everything we sing is unaccompanied anyway, so it's really not a problem if we don't have anyone playing an instrument. You'll even find that we can lead congregational hymns that way.
Can you provide your own cantor for sung services like Evensong?
Of course. We're pretty well equipped for that kind of thing. Or we can work with your priest or precentor if you prefer.
Can you provide a solo singer or instrumentalist for us?
Yes, probably. We often perform choir pieces which feature a soloist or small group of singers as part of the music.
But if you specifically want a soloist rather than a choir (for instance, to sing a whole piece written just for solo voice), bear in mind that the soloist might want to charge a fee. Although all the Clerkes are volunteers and sing in the group for pleasure, many of us also make a living as professional musicians in our day jobs.
Do you only sing at weekends?
No. Our most common days are Saturdays (for weddings) and Sundays (for services), but we do weekday services sometimes too. It can't harm to ask.
Will you definitely be available?
Maybe. We accept about 75% of invitations. You can greatly increase your chances of our saying yes by:
- giving us plenty of notice – we’re talking months rather than weeks
- not choosing particularly busy times in the church musician’s calendar – Christmas is the obvious one, but there’s also Easter, and the summer months are often booked up early with weddings and members' holidays
- being flexible about music, so if we have smaller numbers we can choose music to suit
- choosing music from our existing repertoire list, so we don’t have to find too much extra rehearsal time to learn stuff from scratch
- being located close to central York -- we're very happy to travel, but nearby services are easier to organise at short notice than distant ones
That's not to say that we can never do services that fall into those categories, and it certainly can’t hurt to ask. Even if we're not available on your first choice of day, we'll do our best to find an alternative date (or perhaps an alternative choir – we have a few contacts!). If in doubt, get in touch and we'll talk about it.
What will it cost?
For regular church services (that is, not weddings), there’s no charge. The whole reason we exist is to provide free, high-quality choral singing for churches that don’t normally benefit from choirs. Of course, we do have expenses for both travel and music hire, so if your church is feeling particularly wealthy we wouldn’t say no to a donation – but we don’t expect it at all.
How far will you travel?
For services, our official 'patch' is North and East Yorkshire, broadly construed. That's quite a big area, but we’re not averse to travelling across it for services. We don't charge travel expenses.
What will you need us to provide?
- a list of hymns, and details of which hymn book you use (at least a couple of weeks in advance)
- parking within walking distance of your church for our cars (we mostly car-share, so at the most it will be about 8 vehicles, usually fewer)
- someone to meet us at the venue on the day and talk us through any unusual or interesting wrinkles in your liturgy
How many of you will there be?
Usually between 12 and 18 of us. We'll let you know if it's going to be substantially different to that.