26th September 2023

Celebrating new boy and girl choristers with traditional ‘bumpings’

Celebrating new boy and girl choristers with traditional ‘bumpings’

Six new choristers were admitted to Salisbury Cathedral’s boys choir during Evensong on Sunday 24 September, which was followed by the age old ‘bumping’ ceremony.

Edward, Samuel, Cassius, Oscar, George and Jacob were welcomed to the choir by fellow choristers after Evensong, taking part in the age-old ‘bumping’ ceremony. Bumping takes place in the South Quire Aisle opposite the Vestry. Each chorister takes his turn to have his head banged seven times on the ‘bumping stone’ while the assembled boys choir chant a welcome.

No one knows where this tradition comes from, or how long it has been part of chorister admission or, indeed, whether the stone was specially carved for ‘bumping’ or has been worn away by heads over centuries. It is all done very gently though.

This year’s new Cathedral choristers are not only singers, but are also learning at least one or two other instruments including piano, trombone, double bass, violin and trumpet, making good use of the excellent music teaching available at the Cathedral school.

Established choristers, Harry, Logan, Luke and George were promoted to senior choristers during the same service.

David Halls, Director of Music, said:

“It is great to welcome such a strong cohort into the choir, with excellent seniors to encourage and support them. English Cathedrals are the custodians of an important choral tradition that singers like these boys are helping us to maintain. It is a form of music that is particular to our history and legacy and it would be a shame if it were ever to be lost.”

Two new girls, Rose and Venetia, will be admitted on Sunday 1 October during Evensong. The two new girl choristers will be ‘bumped’ in a ceremony that is modelled on the boys but takes place in the Trinity Chapel and involves a very large prayer book.

Venetia joins her sister Allegra, who is already a chorister. Allegra will be promoted to senior chorister during the same service, along with fellow choristers Amelia, Mollie and Cecilia.

The 2024 recruitment season also launches this October. On Saturday 7 October, children in School Years 2, 3 and 4 who like singing are invited to take part in Be a Chorister for a Day, joining the Music Team for an afternoon of fun and singing in the Cathedral and School. The children taking part will meet current choristers, join rehearsals conducted by David Halls, the Cathedral’s Director of Music, and take part in a special Evensong.

David Halls, Director of Music, said:

“We have been blessed with wonderful young singers over the years, but a choir can never afford to rest on its laurels. Older singers will eventually move on to secondary school so we are always on the lookout for talent. Recruiting is an exciting process but very demanding, and it’s always a relief when you have the full line up set and ready to go.”

To book a place for your child at Be a Chorister for a Day please email Catherine Mitchell on musicofficer@salcath.co.uk. The event starts at 13.15 with registration at the Cathedral School and includes tea in the Undercroft at the Bishop’s Palace and free time playing on the Cathedral School lawns.