The choir loft is a gallery that is included in the design of many different types of Christian churches. Sometimes referred to as a choir gallery, the purpose of the loft is to provide a specific location for persons functioning as a choir during a worship service to gather. A choir loft may be located in the front part of the main worship area, or be located in the back section or even off to one side of the area. In just about every instance, the choir loft is situated at a level higher than the general seating for the worship area.
In many larger churches, the choir loft is commonly found in a balcony area located at the rear of the sanctuary, chapel, or main worship area. This allows the choir to offer musical ministry during the service, without taking away from the visual elements of a worship center, the rostrum or speaker’s area, or an icon or image that has been included in the worship service. Because the choir loft is elevated in comparison to the general congregation, it is possible for the songs offered by the choir to wash over the congregants.
Some churches are constructed with a choir loft that is found behind the rostrum or nave. While elevated, this type of choir loft includes the physical presence of the choir in the ongoing view of the congregation. Many find this aspect of the choir loft desirable, as it allows the congregation to see the choir while they are offering their ministry of song during the worship experience.
Churches built in the 17th to late 19th centuries often included a choir loft that was understood to be modeled after a colonnade. Generally, this placed the choir loft in a position that was not only elevated above the general seating, but was actually located on an upper floor. The choir loft would be open to the main worship area, but would place the choir over the heads of the congregants. While this type of choir loft was often located at the rear of the sanctuary, there are examples of the upper floor choir loft being placed on one side of the worship area.