Faith, Beauty, Justice
The Chapel of St John’s College is one of the most recognisable buildings in Cambridge and is home to a lively, welcoming and inclusive community. We aim to provide something for everyone, no matter how great or how little your faith and whatever your background or church denomination.
St John’s College has a distinguished tradition of religious music and, since the 1670s, has possessed a world-famous College Choir, whose main duty is singing the daily services (Tuesday to Sunday) in the College Chapel during the University Term.
The College also has a mixed-voice choir, called St John’s Voices, who sing the Choral Service on Monday. During the University Vacation, the Choir carries out engagements in the UK and overseas, as well as undertaking a busy recording schedule.
Chapel Services take place during the University Full Term, dates of which can be found here. Additionally there are services for the two week period following May Week (May Week occurs for the week following the end of Easter Term).
We are delighted to be able to resume the daily pattern of choral and said services in Chapel but please note that attendance is currently restricted to resident members of the College and staff only. This decision will be regularly reviewed by the College and we hope very much that we will be able to welcome our families, friends and visitors before too long. More information about the College's response to the pandemic may be found here: Coronavirus information.
Weekly schedules of the choral services will be posted in advance and may be subject to occasional changes due to circumstances.
Normal routine of services
• 6.30pm Evensong – Monday to Saturday. Monday services are sung by St John's Voices. All other services are sung by the College Choir.
• 8.30am College Communion
• 10.30am Choral Eucharist
• 6.30pm Evensong with Address.
8.30am College Communion and Chapel Breakfast
The 8.30am Communion is the main student service and an opportunity to get involved through 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 Eucharist
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 attend or participate through serving or reading.
In addition to the regular services, the Chapel organises a number of special events and services which take place during the year. These are all subject to change as the Covid situation develops, and the details below should be regarded as current aspirations. They will be modified as necessary.
The Advent Carol Services are provisionally planned for Saturday 28 November 2020 at 6.00pm and Sunday 29 November 2020 at 3.00pm. The Sunday service will be broadcast live by BBC Radio 3.
The next Epiphany Carol Services are provisionally planned for Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2021 at 6.00pm.
This Candlelit Service of readings and music celebrate the season of Epiphany.
A service of Evensong is are provisionally planned for Ash Wednesday, 17 February 2021, at 3.30pm.
A Lent Meditation on the Passion of Christ
A service of music and readings reflecting the Passion of Christ is are provisionally planned for Saturday 13 March 2021 at 6pm. Applications will open in January 2021. Please note that priority will be given to members of the College. This service is unsuitable for babies and toddlers.
Ascension Day occurs is are provisionally planned for Thursday 13 May 2021. Every year on Ascension Day, the Choir ascends the 163ft Chapel Tower and sings the Ascension Day Carol.
Forthcoming events in Chapel...
This week's service list
A downloadable pdf version is available via this link.
Sunday Evensong Sermons
The theme of our this Term's Sunday sermon series is 'The intent of art' Sermons inspired by works of art.
Sunday Eucharist Sermons
Sermons Preached at the Eucharist for Michaelmas 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.
For a selection of our most recent themed sermons, click here.
The College Choir
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
Formed in 2013 to complement the work of our sister choir, St John's Voices has quickly developed a remarkable reputation for its emotionally-charged, musically committed performances. Weekly evensongs in the College Chapel complement concerts, tours and recordings to offer an inspiring and immersive experience for choir and listener alike.
For more information about the choir and to find out how to apply to St John's Voices, please visit their website.
Annual Highlights for students
Matriculation Service (Sunday 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 Term)
This is one of our most atmospheric services, lit only by candlelight.
Meditation on the Passion of Christ (Last Saturday 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.
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 Saturdays 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. In the Lent Term we will be participating in Amnesty's 'Write for Rights' Campaign.
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 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 date, if available, may be held for a couple of months, however no date is confirmed until an application has been received and approved by the College Council and therefore reception venues etc should not be confirmed. Please note that weddings do not usually take place during Term time or in August. If you are considering the College for your Wedding Breakfast, please follow this link.
A Marriage Service takes place under a Special Licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The College is not licensed for Civil Wedding Ceremonies.
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.
Andrew Hammond was an undergraduate at Clare College, and then worked in classical music for nearly twenty years: first as a singer, then in arts administration. He was ordained in 2007, and has worked in two London parishes and at St Paul’s Cathedral. Before coming to St John’s he was Chaplain at King’s College.
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.
H&S and Safeguarding Policies
The Chapel's Health & Safety policy and Safeguarding policy are found below:
Tel 01223 (3)38676
Address Chapel Office, Chapel Court
Stephen is the main contact for enquires about the Chapel, Services and any enquiries about booking the Chapel as a venue for a Wedding or a Concert
The Rev'd Canon Mark Oakley
Tel 01223 (3)38633
The Rev'd Andrew Hammond
Tel 01223 (3)38617
The Choir Administrator
Tel 01223 (3)38718
Address F2c Chapel Court
Caroline is the main contact for enquires about Choir activities
The Director of Music
Tel 01223 (3)38683
The Director of the St John's Voices