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The Chaplain & Verger, 2014 - Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk

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.

Reed Rubin Organist & Director of Music

Benjamin Nicholas is a conductor and organist and is the Organist, Director of Music and Lecturer in Music at Merton College, Oxford. He conducted the City of London Sinfonia in a programme of Debussy, Fauré, Ravel and Duruflé for the final concert of their 2015/2016 season in Southwark Cathedral and he will conduct the Holst Singers in the Vaughan Williams and Friends festival at St John’s Smith Square in October. His performance of Holst’s Savitri with The Trondheim Soloists and Sarah Connolly in the Cheltenham Festival  led to a subsequent concert in the 2014 festival by Merton College Choir which included the premières of four pieces by Judith Weir, Dobrinka Tabakova, Hannah Kendall and Kerry Andrew. His other recent concerts include Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Verdi’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony with various orchestras including the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. His most recent organ recording, of Elgar’s organ works, was described by The Sunday Times as 'a musical achievement … captivating' and is the Organists' Review 'Editor's Choice'.

With Merton College Choir, Benjamin Nicholas has toured to France, Sweden and the USA, and directed the choir in numerous world premières of music by Birtwistle, Chilcott, Dove, Jackson and MacMillan. He was heavily involved in the design and installation of the new Dobson Organ at Merton, and directs the annual Passiontide at Merton festival. In September of this year, he conducts the first rehearsals of the new Merton College Girls’ Choir.

A former pupil of David Sanger for organ and Denise Ham for conducting, he held the organ scholarships at Chichester Cathedral, Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul's Cathedral before moving to Tewkesbury Abbey where he directed the Schola Cantorum until 2012. He is Director of the Edington Music Festival.

Email: Benjamin Nicholas

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. He was ordained deacon on 4 July 2015 and priest on 26 June 2016. He is 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 Administrator and Verger

Chapel Administrator: Deborah Thimbleby. Deborah is the Chaplain’s PA and provides administrative support for the Chapel and Choral Foundation.

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.

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: Victor Ajuwon, Jack Beckwith, Molly Clark, Freddie Money and Harry Spillane

Sacristans: Bertie Beor-Roberts, Joe Hutchinson, Oliver Pateman and Katie Schulz

Head Server: Tim Foot

Chapel Clerk: Naomi Gardom

Pastoral Assistants: Nick Archer, Alex Irving, Andrew Langley

Organ Scholars

Alex Little is the Senior Organ Scholar and is in his second 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.

Tom Fetherstonhaugh is Junior Organ Scholar and is studying music. He was a chorister at Westminster Abbey where he sang for both daily and State services, including the Royal Wedding in 2011. He studied violin and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department and has formed the Fantasia Orchestra. He started learning the organ with Iestyn Evans at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in 2011. When not doing music, Tom cycles, runs, and occasionally plays the viola.

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.

Patron of the College Choir

Peter Phillips, founder and director of The Tallis Scholars, is Patron of the College Choir. It was Peter’s idea that the College should consider establishing a Choral Foundation. Along with Benjamin Nicholas, he was a Reed Rubin Director of Music from 2008, a post he held until 2016. His involvement included recordings, tours and broadcasts, as well as conducting the choir on a number of occasions each term. The College is enormously grateful for Peter’s enthusiasm for the Choral Foundation and is delighted that he has accepted the honorary position of Patron. Peter is also a Bodley Fellow of the College.

Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk