Sebastian is the Choristers’ Bishop

THE installation of the Boy Bishop is a time-honoured tradition at Salisbury Cathedral, but this year’s ceremony was a bit different. For the first time, the Cathedral choristers made the choice – 13-year-old Sebastian Kunzer.

Usually candidates are chosen by the director of music, David Halls, consulting with colleagues in the Cathedral music team and the Cathedral School, but this year they asked each chorister to recommend a name and explain their choice. Sebastian emerged as a clear favourite, chosen because of because of his leadership qualities and kindness.

David Halls said: “He’s a really nice boy. Kind, thoughtful, hardworking and a talented singer. He would have been my choice, if it had been my choice to make this year. All credit to his fellow choristers because they have selected very wisely in my opinion.”

Unlike his medieval counterparts, Sebastian was only Bishop for a day. In medieval times the Boy Bishops held office for three weeks, from St Nicholas Day until Holy Innocents Day, and were able to make decisions on the disposal of benefices (or church appointments) that fell vacant within this period and presiding over all services. The practice continued until Henry VIII put a stop to it, declaring it a distraction from proper church business.

A group of choristers have also been busy on a behind-the-scenes film during lockdown, with the Cathedral’s social marketing officer, Shane Brennan, and chorister tutor Jake Reynolds, for a virtual chorister’s tour of the Cathedral, sharing the role of host with TV and radio presenter Alexander Armstrong, who is a former chorister.

The reason behind the creation of A Chorister’s Tour is that the event which starts the annual chorister recruitment season, Be a Chorister for a Day, was cancelled due to Covid. It was decided that if children couldn’t come in to meet the choristers, then the choristers (and Alexander Armstrong) would have to take the Cathedral to them.

The result is a virtual tour of the extraordinary life of a chorister at the Cathedral and the Cathedral school. Aimed at children in years 3 and 4, it’s a chance to learn fascinating facts, hear gruesome stories and get to grips with quirky traditions as they learn about life as a chorister through the ages.

With ten scholarships available – five for girls, five for boys – it’s a golden opportunity for youngsters who love to sing to get in touch and request a try out.
To find out more contact Kathy Davies on chorister.recruitment@nullsalcath.co.uk or 07979 378926

Pictured: This year’s Boy Bishop, Sebastian Junzer, with the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, and the Dean, the Very Rev Nick Papadopolous. Photograph by Ash Mills.