The Chapel is always open for members of the college community to come in, sit quietly and pray if they wish. It is a Church of England place of worship and people of all faiths and none are welcome.
During term, the Chaplain organises services each week, including guest speakers and preachers. She is assisted by the team of Organ Scholars and Chapel Welcome Assistants.
Every Sunday in term, the choir sings the traditional service of Choral Evensong with a thought-provoking sermon, before we go up to formal hall together. On Tuesday nights, we sing Compline by candlelight – this is a short, quiet service of unaccompanied Gregorian chant. On Thursday evenings, the Chaplain celebrates a Sung Eucharist with a short homily, followed by a free buffet supper in the Old Hall.
Please see here for details of faith groups, facilities, and places of worship in the University, and in Oxford more widely.
Choral Evensong is celebrated every Sunday evening at 5.45pm in term (except for the few Sundays where it is replaced by a carol service). The service lasts approximately one hour and consists of choral singing, hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon (often given by a guest preacher).
There are no great demands of the congregation at Evensong – many people of little or no religious inclination find it a comfortable place to experience fine music and be inspired by a thought-provoking sermon.
After Evensong, we have a drinks reception in the Old Library where you can meet and talk with the guest preacher. Afterwards we go up for formal hall together – a great and sociable way to spend a Sunday evening!
Compline is a traditional form of prayer before sleep (which is pronounced KOM-plin). It uses unaccompanied Gregorian chant to cleanse and calm at the end of the day.
During term, we sing Compline every Tuesday at 10pm in the chapel. Volunteers prepare the chapel by lighting a hundred small candles, so that as people come in the chapel glows and shimmers. The Chaplain usually leads the service, and regulars help newcomers get the hang of the beautiful chant.
The service is short — between 15 and 20 minutes — and meditative. Everyone is encouraged to join in the singing as best they can, but those who prefer just to sit and soak in the atmosphere are most welcome as well.
As it is prayer before sleep, those who live on the main college site are welcome to Compline in dressing gowns, pyjamas and bunny slippers!
In the chapel we celebrate the Eucharist every Thursday at 6pm, according to the modern rite of the Church of England. A smaller chamber choir sings the service setting, a motet chosen for the day and lead the hymns; the Chaplain usually gives a short homily or thought for the day.
Those who are communicant members of their own churches are welcome to receive communion. All who come to Eucharist are invited to join us for a hot buffet dinner in the Old Hall afterwards. Once a term, a Roman Catholic priest from the University Catholic Chaplaincy celebrates Mass in Hertford Chapel.
Daily and personal prayer
The Chaplain prays the daily offices on behalf of the college during Morning and Evening prayer – please contact her if you would like to join in. Hertford Chapel is always open; although we often close the doors in winter to keep the heat in, they are never locked.
Beside the Tyndale window at the back of the ante-chapel is an old lectern that is used as a prayer board. There is a pen and small squares of paper here for writing prayer requests — as little or as much detail as desired may be given. These prayer requests are regularly included in daily prayer in the chapel and at the weekly Eucharist service.
At the front of the chapel, to the left, stands the Icon of Christ’s Baptism. In front of it is a metal stand for votive candles. There is a tradition of lighting a candle for each of the concerns we bring in prayer, so that we may focus on each candle as we pray for the person or thing that we are concerned about.
Organising special services
Baptisms and confirmations
Current members of Hertford College – students, staff and fellows – may request for their children to be baptised in the Chapel, either by the Chaplain or another minister. In either case, you should contact the Chaplain to find out more.
In certain circumstances, parents might prefer a service of prayer and thanksgiving for the birth of a child, in which the child receives a simple blessing instead of baptism.
The Chaplain prepares candidates for baptism and confirmation each year. Preparation classes usually take place in a small group of those who wish to explore issues of faith, religion and theology with the Chaplain and each other, not all of whom choose to be baptised and/or confirmed.
Hertford College Chapel is occasionally used for the celebration of marriage by members of the college community, and warmly welcomes applications from members of the community who wish to marry in the chapel.
You can find out more about getting married in the chapel in this document: Marriages in Hertford College Chapel. If you wish to discuss any aspect of the document or anything about getting married here, you are welcome to get in touch with the Chaplain.
Funerals and memorials
We provide an important service in the celebration of the lives of members of the college community who have died, whether in a funeral or a memorial service. The Chaplain welcomes inquiries about holding such services.