The Merbecke Choir in Westminster Abbey, 8th August 2015

The Merbecke Choir is Southwark Cathedral's voluntary choir for young men and women with good sight-reading skills and a creative approach to singing. It offers a unique opportunity for singers to take part in

  • cathedral services (notably the Cathedral's monthly Compline and Evensong services)
  • concerts in the cathedral (thrice yearly),
  • other secular events such as livery company dinners and corporate celebrations. 

This website includes extensive audio recordings of the choir, including services, concert performances, interviews and members talking about the choir.

Click below for details of the Merbecke Choir's CD, The Shadow of Thy Wings.

2013 Merbecke Choir Summer concert


The Hearus page features complete audio recordings of two recent concerts, and excerpts from many others.

See the Book us page for details of how the Merbecke Choir could help you. 

The choir's repertoire ranges widely in period as as well as style, from plainsong to music of the present day. See the Hear us page for past and future concert programmes and click-to-play audio excerpts. 

Visit the Join us page for details of entry criteria and auditions. 


The Merbecke Choir sings Compline in Southwark Cathedral on the 4th Sunday of each month at 6.30 pm.  All welcome.

Click below for current and past lists of services and concerts featuring the Merbecke Choir

Click here for a PDF listing services and concerts featuring the Merbecke Choir

The Merbecke Choir in Canterbury Cathedral, January 2015

Please join us for our major concert of 2016 - a performance of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine (or 1610 Vespers). This piece is one of the landmarks of sacred choral music: Monteverdi incorporates old and new styles to thrilling effect, combining virtuoso solo voices with magnificent full choral passages and sonorous instrumental textures.

Merbecke Choir Lent concert - click for PDF

We are delighted to be joined for this special performance by two of the finest groups of early music specialists in Europe, the Monteverdi String Band and His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts. We also have star solo singers in Emily Elias, Katie Thomas, Greg Tassell and Jake White. The Vespers are a firm favourite of audiences and performers alike and we are looking forward greatly to the combined effect of music, musicians and the beautiful setting of Southwark Cathedral.

Tickets are available now from the Cathedral shop (020 7367 6710) or click here to book via Eventbrite.



The main audio player includes tracks from the choir's 2011 tour to France. The performances of Victoria's Ave Regina Coelorum and The Word of the Cross by Huw Morgan were recorded in La Madeleine, Paris. Victoria's Pueri Hebraeorum and Vere Languores were recorded in Rouen Cathedral. The latter track includes an impromptu performance by the cathedral bells.

Click below for the Merbecke Choir's You Tube page, featuring more than twenty videos

Click for You Tube


The choir would welcome potential sponsors for their termly concerts. Your generous support would allow our young musicians the chance to experience performing alongside exciting artists such as His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, and would create a wonderful evening's entertainment for you and your guests. For further details and rates, please email sponsors@merbecke.org.uk


The pictures below were taken during the choir's trip to St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire in April 2013. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, generously wrote a new Prayer for St David specially for this trip, which was set to music by Huw Morgan - you can hear a recording of the first performance on the audio player at the foot of this page.


Carol Ann Duffy with Huw Morgan and the Merbecke Choir

This picture was taken at an evening of poetry reading hosted by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, at which the choir provided musical interludes, including a setting of her poem Epiphany composed for the occasion by Huw Morgan. The choir has recently also provided music at an evening hosted by Poet in the City, celebrating the poetry of Dante.


The photograph below was taken during the recording of Her Majesty the Queen's Christmas Message in 2006, which was recorded in Southwark Cathedral and which included a performance by the Merbecke Choir. 

Filming for The Queen's Christmas broadcast in 2006

Click on the photograph to see the broadcast on YouTube: the choir's contribution begins at 6'43". 


The third director of the Merbecke Choir, Huw Morgan, continues the work of his predecessors, Ian Keatley and David Pipe, to develop a young choir that works to the highest standards in keeping with the English cathedral tradition. 

Huw Morgan is a Royal-Academy-trained conductor and composer whose careful teaching of phrasing through the Merbecke Choir's core polyphonic repertoire also enables his singers to produce intelligent and beautifully polished performances of 20th and 21st century music. 

Click below for Huw Morgan's website.

Click for Huw Morgan's website


The pictures below were taken during the Merbecke Choir's summer concert 2009 in Southwark Cathedral, in the presence of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Photos courtesy of Southwark Cathedral.


The Choir is named after the Tudor composer, John Merbecke (1510-1585), who composed one of the most popular settings of the Book of Common Prayer Communion Service.

Merbecke, with three other companions, was tried for heresy in 1543 in the Retrochoir at Southwark, which was used for this purpose at the time. He was found guilty and condemned to be burned at the stake. His sentence was commuted however by Bishop Stephen Gardiner, the then Bishop of Winchester, who decided that as a mere musician Merbecke 'knew no better' and so was released to continue his music making.

Click on the image on the right for further information on the Society of Archbishop Justus website. 


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