Welcome from the Chaplain and Organist
From the Chaplain
Welcome to the webcasts of our choral services from New College Chapel
William of Wykeham, who founded New College in 1379, made the chapel and its choir central to the foundation. Daily worship has therefore been offered in this chapel for over 600 years, and we hope that listening today you will feel part of this tradition. Choral evensong has its roots in monastic worship, being a fusion of the two monastic services of Vespers and Compline. It celebrates the Incarnation, that moment when God took human form. The choir sings Psalms, a part of Jewish worship, and therefore integral to a worshipping community that looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, a community in which Jesus himself lived and participated. The choir also sings the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, songs from the Gospel of Luke that tell of the Messiah's coming and have been set to music by numerous composers, as well as an anthem. Throughout the service, word and music join together, each enriching the other so that our senses and intellects, our hearts and minds, might work together to draw us closer to a sense of God.
Our regular chapel congregation includes not only members of the college and the choir families, but also many people from the university and the city of Oxford, as well as visitors from all over the world. They come to pray, to experience the liturgy and music, or simply to find calm in the midst of busy lives.
We welcome you as part of our online congregation and, as you listen to the service, hope you will experience something of the beauty of the chapel and thus of God's glory and love.
From Professor Edward Higginbottom, Director of the Choir:
When New College’s founder, William of Wykeham, built his chapel and set up his choir, he set in train a tradition of choral liturgy, which continues to this day, and which is nourished by our daily services. Although this tradition goes back to the 14th century, we constantly renew it by our changing personnel and evolving repertory. In this sense, the chapel is also a very contemporary place. Part of our contemporary life is to espouse web technology to be able to share our services on a regular basis with a world-wide congregation. We hope that the music and images on this page will give you a sense of the place that is New College: its dark medieval chapel, its beautiful stained glass and stone reredos, its candlelit choir stalls.
As you listen you will be taking part in a ‘live’ service: this isn’t a studio recording of a concert, but the daily liturgy offered as part of the chapel’s tradition of Christian worship. You may imagine the choir gathering shortly after 5pm each day, the choristers from their school, the clerks from their university studies and places of work, to prepare the evening office. At 6pm the chapel is opened for the congregation, and fifteen minutes later the choir processes to its stalls to sing the music you will now be able to hear on your flashplayer. We hope you will enjoy your experience, and be able to enter a little into the life and work of New College, its chapel and its choir.
Chapel and Choir