Lay Clerk Vacancies

Posted on: May 11th, 2017

Vacancies have arisen for an Alto (male or female), Tenor and Bass Lay Clerk from September 2017. £6,000 per annum for 5 choral services per week.

Newcastle Cathedral, Church of St. Nicholas, is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Newcastle upon Tyne. The spire has dominated Newcastle’s skyline and served as a navigation point for ships in the River Tyne for more than 500 years. The musical profile of Newcastle Parish Church increased when Charles Avison, one of the most influential English composers of the concerto in the 18th century, was appointed as organist in 1736. Since the church gained Cathedral status in 1882, there has been an almost daily tradition of choral services. This pattern continues to the present day with six choral services per week, five of which involve the Lay Clerks.

There was a Cathedral Choir school for the education of choristers until 1976. Since its closure, the Boy Choristers have been recruited from schools across Newcastle, Gateshead and the surrounding areas. In 2008, an additional Cathedral Girls Choir was formed. The independent choirs of boy and girl choristers now alternate in the singing of Cathedral services, with the two groups joining for Christmas and Easter Morning Eucharists and a small number of other special occasions. The Lay Clerks sing the alto, tenor and bass parts as part of the Cathedral Choir, acting as the ‘back row’ for either choir of choristers. There is also a weekly Evensong at which the Lay Clerks sing alone. As well as the Lay Clerks, we offer some Choral Scholarships to university students. This will develop in future years, and the scholars will augment the back row at some services on Sundays or for festivals.

In addition to the regular routine, the Cathedral Choir sings at special services and concerts from time to time. Past engagements have included performances with the Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead, and a concert with the ‘Mediaeval Baebes’. A significant number of CD recordings have been made, and Choral Evensong broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The Choir has toured internationally, traveling as far afield as Norway, Sweden, Malta and France. A further tour is in the initial planning stages for 2018/19.

The Canon for Music and Liturgy is Clare MacLaren. The Organist and Director of Music is Ian Roberts, and the Assistant Director of Music is Kris Thomsett.

Newcastle Cathedral employs six Lay Clerks, translating to one of each voice part on either side of the choir. Since each Lay Clerk sings essentially as a soloist for the majority of services, singers need the experience, vocal technique and stamina to work as a sole contributor to the voice part.

The city offers opportunities for addition employment in a variety of roles. This includes music tuition (practical and theory) and part-time teaching. As the regional centre for the North-East of England, Newcastle upon Tyne is artistically vibrant.The Cathedral Music Department enjoys strong links with the University of Newcastle, Northumbria University and Sage Gateshead. The Director of Music is developing ever stronger links with primary and secondary schools in the state and private sectors.

The Cathedral Music Department will endeavour to give successful candidates every support in securing additional employment should this be appropriate. The choir schedule allows for further singing opportunities, in particular on Fridays and Saturdays, during the daytime, and during choir holidays.

The Lay Clerks play a fundamental role in the Cathedral’s mission and ministry, as such they are a valued part of the small team of employees at Newcastle Cathedral.


Job Specification for Lay Clerk


Job Title: Lay Clerk

Accountable to: Organist and Director of Music

Hours of work: During Cathedral Choir term time:


5.00pm Rehearsal

5.30pm Evensong


5.00pm Rehearsal

5.30pm Evensong

6.20 – 6.50pm Rehearsal


5.00pm Rehearsal

5.30pm Evensong

6.20 – 6.50pm Rehearsal


9.00am Rehearsal

10.00am Eucharist

2.30pm Rehearsal

3.00pm Rehearsal

4.00pm Evensong


Additional contractual duties in the choir year include major festivals and observances such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Corpus Christi, All Souls’, the Patronal Festival Eucharist at Newcastle Cathedral (St Nicholas), the Patronal Festival at Durham Cathedral (St Cuthbert), 2 Ordination Services, 3 Cathedral Concerts, Old Choristers’ Reunion Evensong (Saturday) and a service, concert, or other event for the Hadrian Choirs Festival. The Lay Clerks’ participation in other Choirs’ Association Events, choir tours, recordings and broadcasts will be agreed in consultation with the Lay Clerks on a ‘case by case’ basis.


Remuneration and benefits:

  • Salary of £6,000 (reviewed annually)
  • Fees for singing at weddings and funerals (levels also reviewed annually)
  • Eligibility to join the Cathedral’s Pension Scheme upon request
  • Choir Holiday for approximately 13 weeks of the year


Person Specification



  • An adult singer (18 years of age or older) with experience of singing in a choral ensemble of professional standard
  • Sympathetic to the ethos and purposes of Newcastle Cathedral
  • Good sight-reading skills
  • A well – trained voice, with good range and flexibility
  • Ability to provide a strong line as the sole singer on either side of the choir
  • Willingness to work as part of a small and close-knit team, and the ability to respond quickly and positively to direction
  • Experience of solo singing, and confidence as a verse singer
  • An understanding of the professional nature of the job, and the drive to undertake adequate personal preparation
  • A thirst for continual personal and professional development
  • Adherence to current best safeguarding practice, including the Cathedral’s Safeguarding policy, and training as required
  • Good sense of humour and patience



  • Willingness to engage with the wider Cathedral community
  • Good working knowledge of the Anglican Choral repertoire
  • Interest in a wide variety of music


Recruitment Process

To apply, please send a letter of application outlining the qualities that you could bring to the post of Lay Clerk at Newcastle Cathedral, the details of two referees and a copy of your CV to:

Ian Roberts
Director of Music
Newcastle Cathedral
Cathedral House
42-44 Mosley Street
Newcastle upon Tyne

Or you can e-mail the application as attachments to:

Ian is always pleased to have an informal conversation about the post.
Please contact him on 0191 232 1939 (ext. 204) or at the e-mail address above.

Any offer of appointment will be dependent on the receipt of satisfactory references, and the position is subject to DBS checks.


For an appropriate candidate, it may also be possible to couple one of the Lay Clerkships with an Organ Scholarship. For further details please contact Ian Roberts on 0191 2321939 (ex.204), at or see the website . Closing date: Friday 2nd June.