The Chapel and Choir

The Chapel

Click here for the Chapel's website

The College Chapel was completed in 1791, but its interior was transformed into the riot of colour, humour and detail that it is today by William Burges in 1864. The paintings and woodwork include many jokes, whilst the animals at the ends of the pews are a mixture of the weird and wonderful, including a unicorn and blue whale. Based on the five morning canticles, the decoration presents the wonders of creation within the scheme of salvation. The Chapel is open every day and is the perfect place to reflect.

The Chapel is the spiritual heart of the College and is also its centre of Christian worship. It aims to be the home for all Christian branches in College and is available for people of all beliefs. All are welcome to attend Chapel services: members of any religion or of none, members of Worcester or not.

The Chaplain, Revd Dr Tess Kuin Lawton, is pastorally available to all members of the College at any time.

Chapel Services

Services are held throughout the week in full term, and several are choral services with one or both of the College's choirs. The main College service is Evensong on Sunday evenings at 5.45pm, at which visiting preachers give a good variety of sermons. Evensong is also sung on Mondays and Tuesdays. Every Thursday there is a Sung Eucharist or Evensong. On Wednesday nights at 9.00pm one of the members of the choir sings the monastic night office of Compline, a serene way to end the day.

Other services in Chapel are said and these, like the choral services, follow the rites of the Church of England.

Service Times

Sunday 5.45pm: College Evensong with sermon. Sung by one or both choirs

Monday 6.15pm: Choral Evensong Prayer. Normally sung by the adult mixed-voice choir

Tuesday 6.15pm: Choral Evensong. Sung by the boys and adults

Wednesday 9.00pm: Compline

Thursday 8.15am: Morning Prayer

Thursday 6.00pm: Choral Eucharist or Evensong (on alternate weeks). Sung by the adult mixed-voiced choir

Friday 8.15am: Morning Prayer

The Woodroffe Society weekly lunch

The Woodroffe Society was founded in 1947 as a forum for the discussion of moral, ethical and religious issues. Every Monday lunchtime from 12.30pm until 2 pm a group meet in the Chaplain's room for lunch and to talk about God, ethics, faith, doubt, the Bible or just life. All are welcome to this open, sociable, non-judgmental and frank discussion group.

The Choir

Worcester is unique among the Oxford colleges in that it has not one, but two flourishing chapel choirs of equal status, which share the weekly services. There is a mixed-voice choir constituted of choral scholars and volunteers, and also a choir in which the tenors, basses and male and female altos of the mixed choir sing with boy trebles from Christ Church Cathedral School.

A wide variety of music is performed in Worcester chapel, ranging from the early, such as Palestrina, right through to the very modern, such as the work of Professor Robert Saxton, the current Fellow in Music at the college. Student composers studying under Professor Saxton for the degree in music are also given the opportunity to write works for the choir. In this way, members of the choir are able to experience music of all kinds, and gain a broad knowledge and understanding of the sacred choral repertory.

Choral Awards

Choral awards are available to male and female undergraduates and postgraduates of Worcester College reading for any Oxford degree. In addition, choral awards are occasionally given to singers who are not members of the College. The awards are called Choral Scholarships for members of the College and Choral Bursaries for others. The number of awards available, which have a value of £200 p.a., depends on the needs of the choir.

Once you become a graduate student of the College you can apply for an award. These awards are made as the result of voice trials held at the beginning of Michaelmas term (October) each year.

Holders of choral awards are required to sing in the Chapel Choir at the services and rehearsals as necessary, and may also be called upon from time to time to assist the Organ Scholars in other duties relating to the choir.