Arundel Cathedral Choir receiving Arch Bishops' Chorister Medal

The Archbishops’ Chorister Medal



Section 1

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Introduction ^

The Archbishops’ Chorister Medal is open to anyone who is actively involved as a singer in Christian worship up to the age of 18. There is no minimum age, but it is expected that candidates will normally be at least 8 or 9.

The aim is not only to develop practical work, but to encourage attentive listening and reflection on the role of music in worship.

There is an examination, whose tasks are described in Section 1; and Section 2 below. Section 3 gives details of how to enter. There is also an Appendix which lists the various music that can be chosen for Section 2 (a) and (c).

Where alternatives are offered, it is to acknowledge the different circumstances of candidates at different ends of the age range.

The syllabus is directly addressed to the candidate, but it is understood that a choir director, teacher or parent will advise.

Section 1 ^


(a) Sing two contrasting solo pieces
(b) Sing a psalm OR Sing a plainsong proper
(c) Sing part of a liturgical work
(d) Musicianship tests
(e) Viva voce

Section 2 ^


(a) Sing two contrasting solo pieces

A list of pieces to choose from is printed in the Appendix. However, if you would like to offer a piece (or two pieces) not given in the list, you must contact the Chairman of the Academic Board (whose contact details appear in Section 3) to seek approval. The degree of ‘contrast’ between the pieces need not be extreme, but should normally involve at least one of the following: style/period of composition, language of text, tempo. If in doubt, please seek approval.

Some choral pieces are included: you may sing any voice part as a solo that is appropriate (e.g. if you are a tenor or bass, do not select a piece composed mainly for sopranos or trebles). You may use any edition unless a specific edition is stated. If there is an accompaniment, it must be played (on organ or piano as convenient) as the composer produced it (e.g. without doubling in the right hand a melody that the composer left undoubled). Yours must be the only voice involved – in other words, your part must not be doubled by other singer(s), and other voice parts should not be sung.

The first part of the list is designed principally for those aged 13 or under, the second part for those aged 14–18. If you are 13 or under, you may, however, choose piece(s) from the second part of the list, provided that your choir director or teacher (who must send a reference – see Section 3 below) is in agreement.

(b) Sing a psalm OR Sing a plainsong proper

Choose one of the following options:

(i) A responsorial psalm (3 or 4 four-line verses, with the refrain just at the beginning and end, and without Gloria)
(ii) A psalm or portion of a psalm (using Anglican chant), with no fewer than 8 verses but no more than 12, ending with the Gloria
(iii) A plainsong psalm with no fewer than 8 verses but no more than 12, ending with the Gloria
(iv) A plainsong proper of some complexity, to be sung from four-stave plainsong notation with neumes.

(c) Sing part of a liturgical work

Sing part of a polyphonic liturgical work – e.g. a Mass setting, an extended motet or anthem, a setting of Magnificat (Latin) or Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (English). You will be expected to know the whole movement/work, but will only need to sing a portion chosen by the examiner. This may be partially accompanied (by the examiner, or unaccompanied, at the examiner’s choice. The examiner may give directives about the singing (as might happen in a rehearsal-style environment): e.g., changing the phrasing, breathing or dynamics. You may sing any voice part that is within your range, solo (without any doubling) and without any singer(s) on the other parts. Make sure that the movement/work you choose has plenty for you to sing (e.g. is not one where rests outnumber notes).

A list of pieces to choose from is printed in the Appendix. However, if you would like to offer a piece not given in the list, you must contact the Chairman of the Academic Board (whose contact details appear in Section 3) to seek approval.

(d) Musicianship Tests

(i) Singing notes from a major triad in root position. The examiner will play twice a root-position major triad as a three-note block chord within your singing range. (The interval between the outer notes will be a perfect 5th.) You will be asked to sing the top note. If you can, sing the middle note and the bottom note straight afterwards; however, the examiner will prompt you by repeating the chord, if necessary more than once.

(ii) Rhythmic memory. The examiner will play a short melodic passage twice. You must clap or tap the rhythm back to the examiner.

(iii) What has changed? The examiner will play a melodic passage twice. You will be given a printed copy of the music played. You must identify how the version that is played differs from the printed version. There will be one change of pitch.

(iv) Sight singing. The examiner will provide a printed copy of a melody in simple hymn-tune style, and will play the key chord, and the first two notes. You will be asked to sing the whole melody after about 30 seconds during which you are free to try it out if you wish. The melody will include some repeated notes, and mainly stepwise movement with some small leaps (none larger than a perfect 5th). You may have two attempts; if necessary, there can be a third attempt during which the examiner provides some keyboard support.

(e) Viva voce (including questions on music theory)

In this informal conversation with your examiner, you will be asked some simple questions designed to show what you know and can do. Questions will be based on:

i Music theory

You will be asked questions on one of your prepared solo performance pieces from the first part of the exam. It is your choice which piece you wish to talk about. Questions may include:

  • General terminology including dynamics, simple Italian terms, articulation and phrasing marks
  • Note values of semibreve, minim, crotchet, quaver, semiquaver and simple dots
  • Time signatures
  • Naming notes in the clef used for the prepared performance piece of your choice
  • Naming degrees of the scale of notes when the key is stated
  • You will be asked to identify from the score of your chosen piece melodic intervals not larger than a perfect octave. (Melodic intervals are those where the notes sound separately rather than together as in harmonic intervals and chords). It is not necessary to define intervals as major, minor, etc. Thus F-A and F-A flat are both ‘thirds’.

ii Liturgy

  • You will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the principal elements of any service which happens regularly where you sing: Eucharist, Mass, Vespers, Evensong, Compline, services of the Word etc. You may have with you an order of service to assist you. You should be able to explain how music plays a part in this service and refer to suitable repertoire for such a service, based on previous experience of singing or hearing these pieces.
  • You will be able to demonstrate understanding of the themes underpinning Christmas and Easter, and refer to suitable repertoire for use at these Festivals.

Chorister medal practical

Section 3 ^


You are warmly invited to become a junior member of The Guild of Church Musicians.

To enter for the examination, download an entry form or obtain one from the Chairman of the Academic Board: Dr Hugh Benham In addition, a reference written by your choir director or teacher must be submitted (as explained in the entry form), detailing commitment, general attitude and approach, etc. Specimen tests for Section 2, part (d) are available on request.

You should return your completed entry form by post to the Chairman of the Academic Board, together with a cheque or postal order for the fee of £65.00, payable to ‘The Guild of Church Musicians’ as soon as possible after entry – and not less than a month before the examination date.

Your entry may be made at any time of the year. You are entitled to wear a special Guild medal if you are successful. The cost of this is included in the examination fee (and is non-returnable).

The Chairman will arrange the date and venue of the examination in consultation with the person who entered you as a candidate, and with the examiner.

Your examination will normally be held in your own church, cathedral or school, or at another approved centre. A piano, organ or other suitable keyboard instrument must be available.

In order to pass, you must gain an overall mark of 60–69% in the examination as a whole (in other words, you do not need to gain 60% in every section). An overall mark of 70-79% in the examination as a while represents a Merit. A mark of 80% (or more) in the examination as a whole (including a pass in every section) represents a Distinction.

The result will usually be issued within three weeks of the examination.

If successful, you will be awarded a certificate and a medal. Certificates and medals may be presented at one of The Guild’s Awards Services, or at a church, cathedral or school where your choir regularly sings.

Section 4 ^



(a) Sing two contrasting solo pieces

List designed for those aged 13 or under

Arr. ArcherPeople look east (OUP)
ArcherPie Jesu (Requiem) (Kevin Mayhew)
AttwoodCome, Holy Ghost (or 14+ List below)
AttwoodTurn thy face from my sins
BevanThere’s a wideness in God’s mercy
ChilcottBe thou my vision
Arr. CoplandSimple gifts
DowlandLord, in Thy wrath (Psalm 6 - Henry Nowell Lamentations, 1597)
ElgarAve verum corpus
Farrant (Hilton?)Lord for thy tender mercy’s sake
FranckPanis angelicus
GoodallThe Lord is my shepherd (Faber)
HallsWash me throughly
LindleyAve Maria (Banks Music Publications, York)
MonteverdiDeus tuorum militum I (1641) (or Sanctorum Meritis II, 1641)
MozartAve verum corpus
RutterThe Lord bless you and keep you (SA or SATB)
StanfordO for a closer walk with God
TallisIf ye love me
Wesley, S SLead me, Lord (from ‘Praise the Lord, O My Soul’)
WilbyMake me a light (The English Anthem, ii, ed. Helen Burrows)

List designed for those aged 14 or over

AdamO holy night
attrib. J S BachBist du bei mir
BrittenCorpus Christi Carol
BurgonNunc Dimittis
ChilcottBe thou my vision
ChilcottThe Lord’s my shepherd
DurufléPie Jesu
FauréPie Jesu
HandelMessiah (any air/aria)
HeadThe little road to Bethlehem
HumfreyA Hymn to God the Father
IrelandIt is a thing most wonderful (Ex ore innocentium)
Lloyd WebberPie Jesu
MendelssohnO for the wings of a dove
MendelssohnO rest in the Lord (Elijah)
MozartAgnus Dei from Coronation Mass in C
MozartLaudate Dominum (with cut to Amen)
PergolesiEja mater/Cujus animam (Stabat mater)
PurcellEvening Hymn
RutterPie Jesu (from Requiem)
RutterThe Lord bless you and keep you
RutterGaelic Blessing
SchubertAve Maria
Vaughan WilliamsThe Call (Five Mystical Songs)
WarlockBethlehem Down (solo voice version)

(c) Sing part of a liturgical work

ComposerLiturgical Work
BrittenCeremony of Carols – any movement with more than one vocal part
DarkeMass in F – Gloria OR any two movements excluding Gloria
DurufléRequiem – any single movement
DysonMagnificat and Nunc Dimittis in F OR D
EccardWhen to the temple Mary went (English text or German)
FauréCantique de Jean Racine
FauréRequiem – any single choral movement
GoodallLove Divine
GounodMesse Brève in C – Gloria OR any two movements excluding the Gloria
HandelZadok the Priest
HaydnMissa Sancti Joannis de Deo – any single movement
KellyMagnificat OR Nunc Dimittis in C (Latin American Service)
MozartSpatzenmesse – any movement excluding the Sanctus
OgdenChrist has no body now but yours
ParryI was glad
PergolesiStabat mater – any 2-part movement
ShephardSong of Mary
StanfordMagnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat, OR C, OR A
SumsionMagnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A OR G (SATB)
Vaughan WilliamsLet all the world
VictoriaO quam gloriosum
VierneMesse Solennelle – any single movement

(d) Musicianship Tests

Specimen tests are available on request from the Chairman of the Academic Board.