March 17: First Mixed Vested Choir (1893)

The introduction of a mixed (male and female members) vested (wearing a black cassock and white surplice) choir at Epiphany was prefaced by the 1890 renovation of the church. In an attempt to anchor Epiphany to its downtown location, the vestry voted to make improvements and embellishments to the church. New York architect Edward J. Neville Stent designed and carried out interior changes, which centered around the movement of the choir and organ from the rear balcony to a rebuilt and enlarged chancel. New chancel arches were added. The 1874 Epiphany window was moved to the rear of the church and replaced by a larger (current) window of the same theme. A wrought iron rood screen was erected between the chancel and the nave.

With the choir, which had been mixed for several decades, now seated in a more visible position in the front of the church, it became vested. This occurred in the spring of 1893. The choir was enlarged and by the spring of 1895 under organist-choirmaster H. Clough Leighton, there were five paid soloists and a total of twenty female and fourteen male members. In addition to its participation in morning and evening services, the choir had for more than a decade been giving annual concerts such as Gaul’s “Holy City” in 1894. On that occasion, the audience was so large that it overflowed into the Sunday school room, and the choir was prompted by demand to repeat its performance two months later.

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