Something for everyone, whatever your denomination
New Dean of Chapel
We are pleased to announce the appointment of The Rev'd Canon Mark Oakley as the new Dean of Chapel. Mark joined us in September from St Paul's Cathedral, London. For more information please follow this link. The Dean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advent Carol Services
This year's Advent Carol Services take place on Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 November. For more information on how to apply for (free) tickets please follow this link.
In addition to the regular services, the Chapel organises a number of special events and services which take place during the year.
The Advent Carol Services with be held on Saturday 24 November 2018 at 6.00pm and Sunday 25 November 2018 at 3.00pm. The Sunday service will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 and broadcast on Advent Sunday (2 December 2018) at 3.00pm.
The next Epiphany Carol Services will be held on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 January 2019 at 6.00pm.
This Candlelit Service of readings and music celebrate the season of Epiphany.
A Choral Evensong takes place on Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019, at 3.30pm.
A service of music and readings reflecting the Passion of Christ will be held on 10 March 2018 at 6pm. Applications will open in January 2018. Please note that priority will be given to members of the College. This service is unsuitable for babies and toddlers.
Ascension Day occurs on Thursday 30 May 2019. Every year on Ascension Day, the Choir ascends the 163ft Chapel Tower and sings the Ascension Day Carol.
Sunday Evensong Sermons
Sunday Eucharist Sermons
Sermons Preached at the Eucharist this term may be found following this link.
Each term the Sunday Evensongs have a theme and guest preachers from best-selling novelists like Salley Vickers to eminent scientists like John Polkinghorne have encouraged us to think more deeply.
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions from its recordings, broadcasts and concert tours. The Choir is directed by Mr Andrew Nethsingha, who has previously been Director of Music at Gloucester and Truro Cathedrals. The services follow the Cathedral tradition of the Church of England, Evensong being sung during Term six days a week and Sung Eucharist in addition on Sunday mornings. You can find out more about the Choir at its dedicated website.
For information about applying for a Choral Award, click here.
St John's Voices
St John's Voices is a mixed-voice college choir, giving both male and female students at St John's College the opportunity to be part of the College's rich choral heritage. Since it was launched in 2013, the Voices have already gained an enviable reputation for their performances both in the college chapel and further afield. The choir's primary responsibility is to sing Choral Evensong in Chapel each Monday during Full Term, but it also gives concerts, undertakes tours and is involved in joint events with other college choirs.
St John's Voices has a regular relationship with the Brandenburg Choral Festival, performing as part of the festival each year at venues in Central London. There are regular tours: the choir recently recently returned from Hong Kong and Singapore, with sell-out performances in City Hall and the Victoria Concert Hall. Plans are now underway for a tour to Colombia in 2018. St John's Voices prides itself on being a friendly, welcoming and supportive group, whose pursuit of choral excellence complements a lively and enjoyable social scene.
How to join
St John’s Voices comprises around 30 singers (8 sopranos, 8 altos, 6 tenors and 8 basses) and is open to all current students at St John’s, both undergraduate and postgraduate, entry being by audition with the Musical Director, Graham Walker. Those in receipt of an offer of an undergraduate place will receive information from the College about the Intercollegiate Choral Award Scheme, which takes place in March. St John's Voices is a full participant in the scheme, and those with an interest in joining the choir are encouraged to apply for an award in this way. Any remaining spaces are filled by audition in October, and those arriving in the College, both undergraduate and postgraduate, will receive information about this process. Rehearsals take place before evensong on Mondays, and on Thursdays at 7.30pm.
Please feel free to email the Musical Director on email@example.com if you would like to find out more about St John's Voices.
The Chapel at St John’s welcomes visitors from around the world, but there are a whole host of things especially for Johnians, University Members and their guests. It’s your chapel, and we would encourage you to get involved! Many students enjoy the oasis of calm offered by our 6.30pm Choral Evensongs; while each term the Sunday Evensongs bring distinguished guest preachers to St John’s to give sermons on a specific theme.
There are also all sorts of opportunities to get involved behind the scenes, from flower-arranging, to helping with the sound system, playing music or singing with us at our 8.30am College Communion service or serving at the 10.30am Sung Eucharist. At the end of each Lent Term, a Chapel Team is appointed to serve for a year as ambassadors around college, to help plan and run our many social events and outreach. If you have ideas or questions about how you would like to be involved, we would love to hear from you – see our contacts guide below to get in touch!
Annual Highlights for students
Matriculation Service (Tuesday of Fresher’s Week).
Your formal welcome to the College, immediately after the Matriculation Photograph.
Advent Carol Services (Last weekend of full Michaelmas Term)
Broadcast live on Radio 3 and followed by Advent Hall, these are the most popular services of the year by far. Current students get priority.
Epiphany Carol Service (First weekend of Lent Full Term)
This is one of our most atmospheric services, lit only by candlelight.
Meditation on the Passion of Christ (Last Sunday of Lent Term)
A meditative service with music, poetry and singing.
Bach Cantata Evensongs (Termly)
Today, Bach Cantatas are usually only heard as high-profile concert pieces, but these termly services restore them to their original setting of worship.
Graduation Service (Graduation Day)
Just after the graduation photograph, this is a service to celebrate the end of your time at St John’s, and is open to visitors who come to support you at graduation.
8.30am College Communion and Chapel Breakfast
The 8.30am Communion is the main student service and an opportunity to get involved through playing music, singing, reading or praying. It’s a relaxed service and everyone is welcome - you don’t need to be a Christian to attend. It lasts about 40 minutes and afterwards we go for Chapel Breakfast together in Hall - possibly the best breakfast in Cambridge!
10.30am Sung Eucharists
These are formal, cathedral-style services, mostly sung by the College Choir, with a sermon from the Dean or Chaplain. Students are most welcome to participate through serving or reading. All those who have been baptised in any church are welcome to receive communion with us, or to come forward at that part of the service for a blessing. The services are attended by visitors from all around the world and there are refreshments afterwards.
Compline by candlelight
This is an ancient form of night prayer going back over a thousand years. Compline by Candlelight is a sensory experience and a wonderful opportunity to take a pause in your busy week in the atmospheric setting of the Chapel. There’s always refreshment and chat afterwards (including port and hot chocolate) and the event has a fun, social feel.
Study and Reading Groups
Each term there are a variety of small groups that meet around college for discussion, prayer and support. There are also lots of opportunities to pray more intimately and personally. The groups vary from term to term. The College also has a Christian Union who meet on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Chapel trips and events
Each term we avail of all the wonderful opportunities around Cambridge including visits to the theatre or museums. There are walks to Grantchester for cream tea and longer country walks, sustained by a hearty pub lunch. We also have poetry readings and book discussions, punting and impromptu picnics. At the end of the Michaelmas Term the Chapel Team host ‘Mince & Mulled’ - a Christmas Party with carol singing from the St John’s Voices, mince pies, mulled wine and festive cheer for all. In the Easter Term there’s a Chapel Garden Party to which all students are invited.
At the end of each Lent Term there is an opportunity for four days of fun together in the annual Chapel Trip. It’s a few days away from Cambridge to recharge the batteries with a programme of activities largely designed by those who participate - it might include films, reading, board games, football, walking or enjoying time on the beach.
Making a Difference
We encourage people to get involved in making a difference to others through their faith. Our biggest collective commitment is the ‘Walworth Trip’ at the end of Michaelmas, when a group travel down to Walworth in London to help at the Church of St John the Evangelist. We run a party for children from the local area, help with the activities and share a meal. We also join in the fun with the local community in the evening at their social event.
The Chapel has a partnership with the Parish of St John the Divine, Kennington in South London. This is one of the poorest parishes in the UK, but its church community is extraordinarily lively, with one of the largest children’s choirs of any Anglican parish church nationally. Its congregation includes people of over 50 nationalities, especially from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The children’s choirs were founded in 2013 with encouragement from two Johnians in the congregation: Jeremy Martin and Tom Chigbo. Each July, the choirs visit Cambridge for a summer school, staying at the College school and singing for services in the Chapel.
St John the Divine has two parish schools, located within the Lambeth education authority, with which the College has a special connection through the University’s Area Links Scheme.
In September 2017, the Parish set up organ scholarships to provide opportunities for up to five of the most enthusiastic and talented children to benefit from professional lessons, practice facilities and opportunities to perform publicly, with support from the College.
Venue and facilities hire
The Chapel and its facilities are available to hire for a variety of different events. To enquire about hiring the Chapel, please contact the Chapel Clerk on 01223 338676, or by email. If you would like to get married in the Chapel, please contact the Acting Dean by email.
The Chapel can seat up to 247 people in the collegiate style benches and misericords. If desired, additional seating can be placed in the aisle to increase the total number of seats in the main body of the Chapel to 413 (at £1 per extra seat). It is also possible for an extra 100 seats to be set out in the Ante-Chapel, but these do offer restricted views.
The Chapel is used regularly for concerts due to its excellent acoustics and versatile space. The stage area has fixed tiering, which can accommodate around 45 instrumental players. The Chapel has excellent recording facilities; for an example of a recorded event, please visit the recent choir webcasts, available on the Choir website.
The Chapel’s four manual, Mander Organ is one of the finest instruments of its kind in the country. The organ can be hired for recitals or as accompaniment for choral or orchestral concerts.
The Chapel is available for hire as a recording venue when it is closed to the public. We do not have recording equipment for hire, but we can provide benches and chairs.
Weddings in Chapel
The College Chapel is available for a Marriage Service and for services of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage at certain times of the year. Members of the College who are within current residence (or out of residence for no more than five years) are entitled to be married in the College Chapel in accordance with the Standing Orders of the College and of the rules governing a marriage within the Church of England. Ceremonies are taken by the College Clergy and initial conversations about arrangements and wedding preparation should be had with them.
A Marriage Service takes place under a Special Licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Canon Mark Oakley read Theology at London and Oxford before being ordained in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1993. He served his title at St John’s Wood Church and then served as Chaplain to the Bishop of London, Rector of St Paul’s, Covent Garden (known as ‘the Actors’ Church), Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe and, from 2010 to 2018, Chancellor and Residentiary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral. He is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings College London and Visiting Scholar at Sarum College. Since 1996 he has also been a Deputy Priest in Ordinary to HM the Queen. He was appointed Dean in 2018.
His duties as Dean include the final responsibility of the conduct of the services in the College Chapel and oversight of pastoral care provided by the Chapel within the College community. He is also responsible for the appointment of clergy to the College’s 39 livings (parishes) with which the College has long had official connections. He is an Ambassador for StopHate UK, Patron of Tell MAMA (supporting those affected by anti-Muslim hate crime) and a Trustee of the Civil Liberties Trust. His interests include poetry, theatre and human rights.
Carol moved to London in 1991 having trained in Ireland as a teacher. She worked for twenty years in education, completing an MA in Policy Studies in Education in 2007. In 2011 she began training for ordination at Cranmer Hall, Durham and served her curacy in inner city Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Chaplain of the College is The Rev'd Carol Barrett Ford. The Chaplain supports the College Tutors who are the primary point of pastoral care for the 900 Junior members of the College (undergraduates and research students). The Chaplain is available to everyone in College – Fellows, Students and Staff.
Director of Music
Performing as a conductor and organist in North America, South Africa, Far East, and throughout Europe, Andrew Nethsingha has been Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge since 2007.
Andrew received his early musical training as a chorister at Exeter Cathedral. He later studied at the Royal College of Music and at St John’s. He held Organ Scholarships at St John’s, before becoming Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral. He was subsequently Director of Music at Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals.
Director of St John's Voices
Graham Walker studied mathematics as a Choral Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was subsequently awarded a scholarship and bursary to study cello at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Graham has performed as a cellist across Europe and North and South America.
Graham is a highly respected choral conductor, and directs several choirs and orchestras. Alongside his work with St John's Voices, Graham is Precentor and Director of Music at Magdalene College and Musical Director of two other choirs.
Stephen came to St John’s in April 2007, having previously served as Verger at Romsey Abbey and St Marylebone Parish Church in London. He has been a Verger since 1999. His responsibilities are for the care of the Chapel and associated administration under the direction of the Dean.
In August 2016 Stephen attained the Diploma for the Church of England Guild of Vergers. Stephen currently serves as General Secretary to the Church of England Guild of Vergers.