church choir

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The church choir of the parish church of Ortisei in Val Gardena during the Corpus Christi procession

A church choir is a mixed choir , occasionally also a choir of equal voices , sponsored by a parish . The singers usually take part in the church music of their community on a voluntary basis . The main task of the church choirs is the musical organization of the church services. In addition to helping to organize church services with hymns, motets , cantatas , masses and other choral literature , religious concerts, for example with oratorios , are often given. Depending on the orientation, it is also known as a choir (from the Latin cantare "to sing"), motet choir , figural choir or oratorio choir . The historical, organizational and musical development of church choirs differs according to denomination .


With the exception of the Kaland Brotherhoods, choir singing in the church was mainly cultivated by clergy, professional singers and students (alumni) until the Reformation. After the Reformation, in addition, numerous Protestant emerged choirs , who performed volunteer, especially in smaller towns, the church choral music. The history of the newer church choirs in Germany goes back in large part to the singing movement at the beginning of the 20th century.

Management and structure

Most church choirs are tied to a parish , especially since the choir directors in Germany are mostly employed by the parish and the parish usually pays for material costs (purchases of sheet music, advertising, soloist fees). Often the leaders of church choirs today are part-time church musicians , while the choirs and oratorio choirs are mostly full-time cantors . In smaller and free church communities, this office is often held on an honorary basis.

In addition, many church choirs are organized internally in association structures . On the one hand, this is due to the historical development (see choral society ), on the other hand, the choir director should be relieved of organizational matters.

Association organizations

Protestant churches

Many church choirs are affiliated to the regional associations of church choirs that exist in all Protestant regional churches in Germany . These in turn are united to form the choir association in the Evangelical Church in Germany (CEK). The association also includes the choral works of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Alsace-Lorraine and the Evangelical Church of the Helvetic Confession in Austria , the Christian Singers Association and the Evangelical Singers Association . According to its own statements, the CEK represents a total of 404,000 singers in around 21,000 choirs, 98,500 of which are children and young people. The aim is to “promote the life of worship and church music”. The association publishes choral literature on the Protestant hymn book and on special occasions. The regional associations organize training courses and singing weeks for choir directors and singers.

The choirs of the German-speaking Swiss Reformed communities are organized in the Swiss Church Choral Association (SKGB).

Roman Catholic Church

Most of the church choirs of the Catholic Church in German-speaking countries are members of a diocesan-Cecilia association as a Cecilia Association. The Diocesan Cecilia Associations in Germany with their church choirs are summarized in the General Cecilia Association for Germany (ACV) with its seat in Regensburg . There is also a General Cecilia Association for Switzerland and Austria. The originally joint General Cecilia Association was founded in 1868 and received from Pope Pius IX in 1870 . the license to practice medicine . The German association represents over 400,000 singers in over 16,000 choirs. The patroness of the choirs is the saint and martyr Cecilia of Rome , from which the association gets its name.


The literature of church choirs is related to a liturgical context according to their task . Choral or song arrangements , which are brought alternately ( alternate practice ) or in addition to the congregation singing , are of great importance . Motets with biblical content and liturgical chants, occasionally entire masses, are also in use .

Church choirs often sing a cappella . Performances with orchestra in the context of church services are more likely to be found on the Catholic side, in Protestant church choirs or choirs more as a concert.

Due to the problem of young talent (especially in male voices), more and more popular musical literature has spread in recent years. There are, for example, chorals for soprano / alto / male voice (SAMst), and sacred literature for female choirs (SSA) is now also available. There is also an increased tendency to use the organ as an accompanying instrument instead of an orchestra, following the Anglican tradition .


See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Church choir  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Choir Association in the Evangelical Church in Germany. Retrieved November 9, 2016 .