Westminster Cathedral Choir School is a school of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster.
Like Gerard Manley Hopkins we believe that the Catholic faith has ‘only to be known, to be loved’, and we aim to teach and share it with joy, gentleness and fidelity.
The School’s Aims
The School places the transmission of the Catholic faith as its foremost aim, in the context of an outstanding, classical and demanding academic education for boys, and an enriching extra-curricular life. The School’s aims are:
- To transmit the Catholic faith with joy and fidelity
- To offer an outstanding, classical and demanding academic education to all boys
- To support a world-class choir for Westminster Cathedral
- To offer all boys outstanding musical opportunities
- To be a School where high standards of behaviour are the norm
- To offer all boys enriching extra-curricular activities
- To provide all boys with opportunities for competitive team and individual sports
- To prepare boys for continuing education through responsibility, experience and opportunity
We also follow the Golden Rule: Do to others that you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).
Boys meet every morning to pray and sing hymns in either a whole-School, form or house assembly. Each form takes it in turn to prepare an assembly about their form saint, or an important aspect of the liturgical year.
Pre-Prep boys (Reception – Year 3) say the prayer of St Francis Assisi daily; Prep boys (Years 4 – 8) say the prayer of St Ignatius.
We encourage boys to learn the prayers with the help of their parents, and each form has a prayer monitor to keep boys’ practice regular and faithful.
Prayer of St Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer of St Ignatius
Dearest Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to love and serve you as you deserve:
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labour and to look for no reward,
save that of knowing that I do your Holy Will.
Through Christ Our Lord.
All boys offer prayers of intercession to our School’s patrons: Our Lady of Westminster and St Gregory the Great.
Our Lady of Westminster
The late medieval statue of the virgin & child, Our Lady of Westminster, is at the entrance of the Lady Chapel in Westminster Cathedral where School Mass is celebrated every Tuesday.
St Gregory the Great
St Gregory the Great was elected pope in 590: the first monk ever to hold the Petrine office. As a Choir School we have adopted Pope Gregory as our patron because he developed Gregorian chant – the plainsong sung every day in Westminster Cathedral.
We also encourage boys and staff to follow St Gregory’s example. He had a great love for the poor and preferred to be called ‘the servant of the servants of God’.
School Cardinal Prizes
A Cardinal Prize is awarded twice a year to a boy in each of the three Houses – Wiseman, Vaughan or Manning – who embodies the character and virtues of his patron Cardinal. The winner is nominated by his peers.
In Manning House, the prize is awarded for determination, compassion and selflessness; in Wiseman House, for imagination, industry and dependability; in Vaughan House, for piety, ambition and service.
Weekly School Mass
The Cathedral is at the heart of the School, both physically and spiritually. You can hear the choristers sing Mass every day except Saturdays during term time.
All boys in Year 3 – 8 attend School Mass in the Lady Chapel every Tuesday during term time. All parents are also invited to attend. Boys contribute to, and participate in, the Mass either by serving, reading or singing.
Altar servers also have the opportunity to serve at some of the Cathedral’s evening Masses and major feast days.
First Confession and First Holy Communion
Boys in Year 3 and 4 are prepared for First Confession and First Holy Communion each year, if their parents wish, with weekly catechesis from Juliet Rodger and Emily Auger. Preparation begins after each Michaelmas half term; boys receive the sacraments in the Trinity (summer) term.
If your son would like receive instruction, please contact Emily Auger.
The Common Good
Westminster Cathedral Choir School is a charity, and has a long and distinguished record of providing bursary support for choristers to attend the School. The School also shares Pope Francis’s commitment to serving the poor.
The School supports two designated charities each year: currently the Cardinal Hume Centre and Eyehope. Boys learn that this is part of the School’s Catholic ethos, as well as their Christian obligation.
At Christmas the Gallery Choir sings for a number of charities, including Great Ormond St Hospital, and it raises funds for St Mary’s Cadogan Street, a church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster. Choristers sing in the wards of St Thomas’s Hospital in the days before Christmas.