Youth choirs have long been integral to the Church's mission. One of the most celebrated of these groups, Les Petits Chanteurs la Croix de Bois (The Little Singers of the Wooden Cross), was brought to prominence in 1917 by Fernand Maillet, and performed in the cities, towns and villages of France. Their example has since been followed by other choirs in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. Msgr. Maillet organized the first International Congress for the choirs in 1947. It took place in Paris, and at that time, he gave the federation its name, PUERI CANTORES.
The American Federation Pueri Cantores was formed in 1953 to accomplish the same mission in the United States. Choirs proliferated in Catholic churches and schools across the country and took a significant and inspirational leadership role in worship and education-related events. Reflecting general lack of support of the arts, however and reacting to worship guidelines set forth in Vatican II, nearly all of those groups disappeared during the late 1900s.
Now, many communities are once again committed to establishing and developing new choirs of young singers throughout America. Sharing an exciting and expanded vision, these choirs create unprecedented opportunities for children, families, schools, churches and organizations locally, nationally and throughout the world.
The American Federation Pueri Cantores is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that brings together youth choirs to raise the profile of choral music in churches, schools, community and artistic venues. A choir's membership in Pueri Cantores creates opportunities to sing in local, national or international settings.
In addition to music selected by conductors for individual choirs, a shared repertoire is sung by choirs throughout the world. On even numbered years, all choirs are invited to participate in an an International Congress held in major cities of the world. Each year, American choirs are invited to a National or Regional Congress.
Students who travel with their choirs have a chance to meet singers from other cities and states. They establish friendships, learn about different cultures, and bring Christ's message of peace and joy. Choir directors exchange musical ideas, traditions and performance practice information with other musicians throughout the nation and world. Pueri Cantores singers learn music of faith, hope and love; they grow in musicianship, spirituality, liturgical understanding and community.
The current objective of the American Federation Pueri Cantores is to build the number of member choirs significantly during the next two years to 400 choirs, reaching more than 10,000 student singers nationwide.
Pueri Cantores gives a shining and renewed public face to the Catholic Church in America, attracting tens of thousands of young singers from every corner of the country. It will encourage involvement of hundreds of thousands of family members, teachers, clergy, audience participants and volunteers and focus a bright spotlight on the ability of children to lead our nation in celebrating Christ's message of love and peace.