The College Chapel dates back to the end of the thirteenth century and stands at the heart of our ancient College as a witness to Christian worship over almost 750 years. Today the Chapel is home to a lively and diverse Christian community which continues this faithful offering of worship with daily services during term time. Visitors are welcome to join members of the College at all our services. Each year a number of Mertonians get married here, and the Chapel is also a popular venue for concerts and plays. To find out more, contact the Chaplain, Simon Jones.
Information about booking the Chapel for concerts and recordings is available to download. For any further enquiries, please contact the Chapel Administrator.
The Choir of Merton College is one of Oxford’s leading mixed-voice choirs and sings the services, during term-time, in the thirteenth century chapel. The choir consists of thirty undergraduates and post-graduates, many of whom hold choral scholarships at Merton College. Tours have included France (2009, 2010 and 2011) and the USA (2011) and Sweden (2013) and the choir returns to the USA in April 2014. Recent performances have included Tallis's Spem in alium in the Beaujolais Festival, Mozart's Requiem in St Germain-des-Prés, Paris, Orff’'s Carmina Burana in the St Jude's Proms, the première of David Briggs's Messe Solennelle in St Paul’s Cathedral and concerts in Cadogan Hall and St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh. The choir plays a leading role in the annual Passiontide at Merton festival, including performances of Bach's St John Passion, Handel's Messiah and Arvo Pärt's Passio in 2013. The 2014 festival saw the première of Gabriel Jackson's The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The choir's debut CD In the beginning features music by Gombert, Weelkes, Holst, Copland and Jackson and was named 'Gramophone Choice' in the December 2011 edition of Gramophone. Advent at Merton was released in 2012 and spent six weeks in the specialist classical charts. Merton College Choir has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and in February 2013 was filmed for the BBC series Music & the Monarchy.
The main focus of the choir’s work is the singing of the services in Merton College Chapel where, in addition to Choral Evensong, special services such as the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Carol Services and the Requiem Mass for All Souls have a large following.
The College’s 750th anniversary in 2014 includes many musical celebrations, not least the installation of the new Dobson Organ and the opening concert by John Scott, and the commissioning of the Merton Choirbook – a collection of some fifty new compositions from many of the major composers of the day. The choir enjoys a relationship with Faber & Faber as 'choir in association'.
For 2014, the Choir of Merton College are Choir & Organ magazine's New Music partner. The Choir will give the premières of three choral pieces commissioned by the magazine, as well as the winning entry in the Choir & Organ 2014 Composition Competition. All four choral pieces are included in the Merton Choirbook, which has been compiled to celebrate the College's 750th anniversary in 2014. Two organ compositions, also commissioned by Choir & Organ, are being premièred on the new Dobson organ in the College Chapel.