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A lay clerk, also known as a lay vicar, is a term used in the United Kingdom to describe a male singer who sings in a cathedral choir or a choir belonging to a college of one of the large traditional universities. A lay clerk is usually paid for the job. When he is called "lay vicar" the term "vicar" comes from the Latin word "vice" (meaning "deputy"). A lay vicar is not in holy orders (he is not a priest). Today there are a few female lay clerks, e.g. in Dublin.
The term "layman" was used in the Middle Ages for a chorister who sings some of the music that was too difficult for the priests to sing. Today many of the lay clerks in places such as Oxford or Cambridge combine their work as layclerk with studying at University. It is similar to a scholarship for studying.