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The pure, high voices of the choir soar toward the vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral as they have for more than 1,000 years. Just one thing is different – these young choristers in their purple cassocks are girls. Canterbury is not the first British cathedral to set up a girls' choir, but as the mother church of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion – one struggling to define the role of women in its ranks – its move has special resonance. Unlike members of the Canterbury boys' choir, who live at the cathedral and rehearse every day, the girls come together just once a week.Female voices have occasionally been heard in Canterbury Cathedral as part of visiting choirs.Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis said music had been sung in the cathedral since it was founded – first by monks, then by a choir of men and boys set up more than 1,000 years ago.
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