The history of St Albans Cathedral Choir only stretches back 120 years, although the Benedictine monastery of St Albans Abbey had a distinguished musical history stretching back before 1539 when the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII. In those days the boys were press-ganged from all over the country; today they are all local schoolboys who are committed to sing services and attend rehearsal every day of the week, except one, during term time.
Unlike many ancient cathedrals there is no residential choir school - the rehearsals and services are fitted in around a normal school week. The day begins at 7.40 am and ends after evensong at 5.45 pm on three weekdays. Friday nights are taken up with two hours of rehearsal and the services on Saturday and Sunday (usually three but sometimes four in all) take up a major proportion of the weekend.
For the weekends, greater Feast days, concerts and tours the 24 boys are joined by the 12 Lay Clerks to make up the full Cathedral Choir. The Lay Clerks, in the main, earn their living outside the music profession. The choir has made several recordings and six tours of the USA in the last ten years. Previous Masters of the Music of the Cathedral include Meredith Davies, Peter Hurford, Stephen Darlington (now at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford) Colin Walsh (Lincoln Cathedral) and Barry Rose.