The Chaplain & Verger, 2014 - Photo: © John Cairns -

Chapel & Choir: People

The Chaplain

The Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones has been Chaplain of Merton since 2002. As well as being responsible for the day to day life of the Chapel, Simon also co-ordinates the various College welfare bodies and convenes the College's Student Support Committee and Chapel & Patronage Committee. He is always happy to speak in confidence with any member of College (regardless of religious affiliation) concerning any matter.

Email: Simon Jones
Telephone: 01865 276365.

Before coming to Merton, Simon served his curacy at Tewkesbury Abbey in the Diocese of Gloucester. He trained for ordination at Westcott House in Cambridge and, as a member of Selwyn College, completed a PhD in Syrian baptismal theology. His current research interests include recent revisions of Anglican baptismal rites, Gregory Dix and the origin and development of marriage rites. He is a member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, the Oxford Diocesan Liturgical Committee and is also liturgy tutor at St Stephen's House, Oxford. He was installed as an Honorary Canon of Christ Church in 2015 and as a Wiccamical Prebendary (Honorary Canon Theologian) of Chichester Cathedral in February 2016.

Junior Chaplain

The Revd Dr Jarred Mercer is originally from Florida, USA, but came to the UK in 2009. He completed his Masters degree at the University of St Andrews and his DPhil here at Oxford (The Queen's College), and was a visiting doctoral researcher at École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris from 2012-2013. Jarred trained for ordination at St Stephen's House and was made deacon in Christ Church Cathedral on 4 July 2015, and has since been curate at St Mary Magdalen, Oxford. Jarred's research interests are primarily in early Christianity and his doctoral thesis was on Hilary of Poitiers. While continuing to work in this area, he is currently beginning research on the spirituality of children in late antiquity. Jarred is married to Chelsea and they have three children: Noah, Owen, and Elspeth.

Email: Jarred Mercer

Chapel Officers

A number of students assist with the running of the Chapel. Chapel Wardens welcome people to services, arrange readers and servers for the main Sunday evening service and send out the weekly Chapel email. The sacristans light candles and ring the bells before services and often serve at the Sunday evening Eucharist. The Chapel Clerk arranges the rota of weekday readers. This year's officers are:

Chapel Wardens: Molly Clark, Freddie Money and Harry Spillane

Sacristans: Bertie Beor-Roberts, Oliver Pateman, Joe Hutchinson and Tristan Franklinos

Chapel Clerk: Naomi Gardom

Pastoral Assistants: Nikolas Gower, David Morgan and Martha Weatherill

Verger: Leah Stead. Leah is responsible for the daily running and upkeep of the Chapel. She helps with the organisation and setting up of services, as well as overseeing concerts and outside events.

To find out more about how to get involved, email the Chaplain or phone him on 01865 276365.

Reed Rubin Organist & Director of Music

Benjamin Nicholas has held the full-time post of Reed Rubin Organist and Director of Music of Merton College, Oxford since September 2012. He is also a Lecturer in Music at Merton College. Benjamin has conducted the College Choir on tours to the USA, France, and Sweden, on BBC Radio 3, BBC TV and on recordings for Delphian. From 2000 until 2012 he directed the choir of men and boys at Tewkesbury Abbey and was largely responsible for the founding of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum when the Abbey School closed in 2006. He led the choir on thirteen overseas tours and made a series of recordings on Delphian. Benjamin Nicholas was Director of Choral Music at Dean Close School from 2005 until 2012. In 2011 he succeeded Andrew Carwood as Director of the Schola Cantorum at the Edington Festival of Music and in 2013 became Festival Director.

Benjamin Nicholas has conducted much of the large-scale choral repertoire including Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, Verdi Requiem and Berlioz Te Deum. Recent concerts include Holst Savitri with the Trondheim Soloists, Elgar The Dream of Gerontius with the Oxford Philomusica and Bach St Matthew Passion with Oxford Baroque. Benjamin Nicholas has commissioned numerous composers including Chilcott, Dubra, Goodall, Ives, Jackson, Skempton and Wilby.

Benjamin was a chorister in the Choir of Norwich Cathedral before holding organ scholarships at Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul's Cathedral. As an undergraduate he was Conductor of The Oxford Chamber Choir, and in 2000 held the post of Director of Music of St Luke's Church, Chelsea.

Email: Benjamin Nicholas

Reed Rubin Director of Music

Peter Phillips was educated at Winchester College and St John's College Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar between 1972 and 1975 and read music under David Wulstan and Bernard Rose. He founded the Tallis Scholars in 1973, with whom he has now appeared in over 1,750 concerts and made over 50 discs, encouraging interest in polyphony all over the world.

He taught at the Royal College of Music until 1988, since when he has devoted himself to concert-giving and recording. In addition to the Tallis Scholars, he has worked with many other specialist ensembles, currently appearing regularly with the Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Intrada of Moscow, Musica Reservata of Barcelona and the Tudor Choir of Seattle. He has made numerous television and radio appearances, on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service as well as on German, French, Canadian and North American radio, where he has enjoyed deploying his love of languages. Peter also works extensively with the BBC Singers.

As well as leading choral workshops annually in Venice, Barcelona, Rimini and Evora, Peter is Artistic Director of the Tallis Scholars Summer Schools – annual choral courses based in Uppingham (UK), Seattle (USA) and Sydney (Australia) dedicated to exploring the heritage of renaissance choral music, and developing an appropriate performance style. He was recently appointed a Reed Rubin Director of Music and Bodley Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, where the new choral foundation he helped to establish began singing services in October 2008. He has contributed a music column to the Spectator magazine for 30 years.

In 2005 Peter Phillips was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, a decoration intended to honour individuals who have contributed to the understanding of French culture in the world.

Organ Scholars

Peter Shepherd is the Senior Organ Scholar and in his second year studying undergraduate music. As a chorister he was taught the organ by Christopher Allsop at Worcester Cathedral from 2005 to 2013, and now takes lessons with William Whitehead. From 2009 until joining Merton he was the organ scholar at Great Malvern Priory, and has given organ recitals at cathedrals such as Southwark, Hereford and Bristol. He obtained the ARCO in 2012 and the FRCO in 2014.

Alex Little is the Junior Organ Scholar and is in his first year studying undergraduate music. He was a chorister at Norwich Cathedral, started learning the organ with David Dunnett there in 2007, and is now taught in Oxford by William Whitehead. He has played recitals at Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk and the church of St Lawrence Jewry in London.

Vocal Coaches

Carys Lane and Giles Underwood are the College's Vocal Coaches. They work with the Choral Scholars on a regular basis whilst continuing to give concerts both in the UK and abroad.

Chapel Administrator

Information about booking the Chapel for concerts and recordings is available to download. For any further enquiries, please contact the Chapel Administrator.

Photo: © John Cairns -