Chapel

  • Oriel College Chapel by Marcus Peel
    Photograph of Oriel Chapel by Marcus Peel

Oriel College has an extraordinary religious heritage.

Oriel was the first college in Oxford to be founded in honour of the Virgin Mary (the 'old college' to New College). In the sixteenth century Provost Thomas Ware was one of the first to embrace the Protestant Reformation. In the nineteenth century Oriel became famous as the home of both Noetics and Tractarians, groups which made a lasting impact on Church and state. Among its former members are Puritan polemicists and two Roman Catholic saints, St Thomas More and St John Henry Newman. These diverse traditions remain part of Oriel's remarkable community today.

The present Oriel Chapel - the third building to bear the name - was consecrated in 1641 under Archbishop William Laud, shortly before Oxford became the Royalist capital during the Civil War. Today worship in Chapel is still founded on the Book of Common Prayer as it was practised here four hundred years ago.

Welcome to Chapel

For some of us Chapel is very familiar; for others it’s a total novelty. Everyone is welcome, whether you make it a regular feature of your week or just pop-in occasionally for a service or a quiet moment of reflection. Sacred music sung by our superb Choir is an important part of the College’s identity stretching back centuries. Chapel is a place of learning, prayer, and community. Anyone can get involved. Come and see for yourself!

Services

Choral Evensong is the main service of the week on Sundays at 6pm. It combines profound and beautiful liturgy with ancient and modern music and hymns sung by the Choir and congregation. Everyone is warmly invited for drinks with the Chaplain and the Provost after the service, and it's a nice way to begin an evening at Formal Hall with friends.

Morning  Prayer is at 8.10am on weekdays and takes place in the Newman Oratory, upstairs behind the organ. It's an opportunity to listen to Scripture and to pray at the start of the day. We're done in time for breakfast in Hall.

Compline, or Night Prayer, is at 9.30pm on Wednesdays, a peaceful time of candlelit reflection led by the choral scholars to help us wind down at night. Let yourself be carried along, relax, and de-stress.  If you're not quite ready to go to bed, all are welcome for hot chocolate in the Chaplain’s room afterwards.

Holy Communion is said on Mondays at 6pm and sung by the Choir on Thursdays at 6pm. You can join in as much or as little as you feel comfortable. Sometimes a student will give the address. Sign-in to Formal Hall afterwards.

Useful Links

Taking Part in Chapel

Everyone is warmly encouraged to take part in the life and activities of the Chapel. This may mean coming along to a service several times a week or only once in a while. It may mean singing in the Choir or becoming a Bible Clerk, one of the students who helps organise and lead services. It may mean reading a lesson at Evensong or coming to the pub to talk about the meaning of life. Or it may mean using the Chapel to stage a play or organise a concert. The Chapel is a resource for everyone at College.

Students are always welcome to come and talk to the Chaplain about getting involved in Chapel life.

It is possible to book the Chapel for concerts and music recitals. Please contact chaplain@oriel.ox.ac.uk for more details.