The Chapel

The College Choir enriches our worship every day of the week in Full Term (except Mondays) at 6.00pm, and every Sunday morning in Term at 11.00am.  On Saturdays, the men of the Choir are joined by female undergraduates from a number of Oxford colleges to form the Consort of Voices.  Other services in Chapel are said, without the Choir.

We hope you will join us at one of the live services in Chapel.

Members of the public are warmly invited to attend any of our morning or evening services throughout the week during the University term. Details of musical settings, hymns, and readings can be found in the Chapel Services and Music List for the term.

Sunday Services in Full Term

11.00am Sung Eucharist
This choral celebration of Holy Communion includes congregational hymns, a sermon, and a musical setting sung by the Choir. It usually lasts just over an hour. Those of any and all denominations are welcome to receive Communion in Chapel; it’s equally fine to attend and not take Communion. The service is followed by lunch and wine or a soft drink in the New Room, to which all are invited.

6.00pm Choral Evensong
Perhaps the most distinctively Anglican of all church services is Evensong, which took shape in the sixteenth century when the medieval orders for Vespers and Compline were combined, in the Book of Common Prayer, to create a new service. Evensong at Magdalen uses the traditional language of the 1662 Prayer Book and it offers the opportunity to hear a great variety of musical settings of the canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis), along with a wide range of anthems and psalm chants. This service typically lasts around 40 minutes, or 50 minutes on Saturday and Sunday when it includes congregational hymns. On Sundays, the service is followed by refreshments in the Antechapel.

Services from Monday to Saturday in Full Term (unless otherwise stated in the termly Music and Services booklet)

12.00 pm Noon Prayer

12.00 pm Noon Prayer
6.00 pm Choral Evening Prayer (sung by the Choristers only)
9.00 pm Sung Compline (Night Prayer)*

12.00 pm Noon Prayer
6.00pm Choral Evensong (sung by the full Choir)

12.00 pm Noon Prayer
6.00 pm Choral Evensong (sung by the full Choir)

12.00 pm Noon Prayer
6.00 pm Choral Evening Prayer (sung by the Academical Clerks only)

6.00 pm Choral Evensong (usually sung by the Consort of Voices)

* This service is sung by individual members of the Choir and Consort of Voices and is also broadcast on YouTube and Facebook at 9pm the following day (Wednesday)

The Sunday Eucharist service is followed by a light lunch and Sunday’s Choral Evensong is followed by refreshments in the Antechapel.

The Chapel is only available for baptism to current members of the College and its staff. Central to the baptism service is that a child or adult is baptised into their Christian community. For former members of the College this will be their local parish church or worshipping community whilst for current members and staff the Chapel is the focus of that community within the College. Although it is recognised that the services available in the Chapel may not be felt to be suitable for babies and very small children, those seeking baptism in the Chapel will be encouraged to fulfil their baptismal obligations to their child in a more suitable context.

Baptism services usually take place on a Sunday either during the vacation or in term time.

Individuals of other Christian denominations may use the Chapel for a service of baptism but the permission of the Dean of Divinity and College authorities must be sought first.

For further enquiries or to book a baptism, please contact the Dean of Divinity, Rev’d Dr. Andrew Bowyer:

Below is useful information about baptism, which is published by the Church of England.

What is baptism?

In baptism, you as parents are: thanking God for his gift of life, deciding to start your child on the journey of faith and asking for the Church’s support. For your child, baptism: marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from the darkness of self-centredness, turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. Baptism is a ‘sacrament’: a visible sign of God’s love. In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from the darkness of evil and to make a new start with God.

Making decisions and promises


When you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus. You will be asked to answer on your child’s behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and to turn instead towards Christ. The declarations made by you and the child’s godparents will be made in front of the church congregation. the Christian community will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.

During the service, you will be asked to make the following declarations:

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? Parents and godparents: I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? Parents and godparents: I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? Parents and godparents: I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? Parents and godparents: I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord? Parents and godparents: I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? Parents and godparents: I come to Christ.

What happens during the service?

Your child’s baptism will normally take place on a Sunday.
The priest will make sure you know where to sit and when you need to move. Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join, some will be for you and the godparents.
For the baptism itself, parents and godparents will be asked by the priest to gather either at the front of the church or around the font. (The font at Worcester is a large basin, containing the water for baptism.)

The priest will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child.

A number of important symbols will be used during the service itself:

The sign of the cross – the priest will make the sign of the cross on your child’s forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him. The priest says: ‘Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of his cross. do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.’ The priest may invite you and the godparents to sign the cross on the child’s forehead after he or she has done so.

Water – the priest will pour water on your child’s head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptised our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.

Anointing – after baptism in water, the minister may put the christening robe on the child and anoint him or her with oil. This is a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. The priest says: ‘May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.’

The welcome – the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that you child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them.

Candles – Jesus is called the light of the world. A large candle may be lit in the church and you may be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child’s life. It is up to you, the child’s godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and shares this light with others.

The role of godparents

Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptised as parents. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.

You should have at least three godparents: two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. Godparents can be family members or friends.  It is important, however, that you choose people who will take an interest in your child’s spiritual welfare and who will pray for you and your child. They should be baptised themselves.

Thanksgiving Service

You may wish to ask your parish priest about having a service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. In this service, you thank God for the gift of your child ad the child is blessed. You do not make the same promises as in the Baptism service.

If you choose to have a Thanksgiving, you may also have a Baptism service for your child at a later date.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a baptism and a christening?
What is the right age for baptism?
I’m not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptised?
What does it cost?

Q. What’s the difference between a baptism and a christening?
A. None, they are just different words for the same thing.

Q. What is the right age for baptism?
A. Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism.
Teenagers and adults may also be baptised. This is celebrated with confirmation by the Bishop. You can only be baptised once, but there are ways of renewing your commitment publicly as an adult – your priest will be able to advise.

Q. I’m not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptised?
A. Yes. The Church believes that God’s love is available to all, regardless of their background. Your parish priest can talk you through the options: you may prefer to have a Thanksgiving service first and then consider baptism when you have had time to talk through what is being asked of you.
You may also wish to find out more about the Christian faith and what joining the Church involves before you make a decision about baptism.

Q. What does it cost?
A. The Baptism service is free. There may be a small charge for a certificate or administration fee.

The College Chapel is usually available to Magdalen alumni for weddings, as well as College staff and their direct family members, and current College members.
The Chapel is only available for weddings outside the University terms, and bookings are always agreed at the discretion of the Dean of Divinity and with the approval of the President.

How to book a wedding
The first step is to complete the form below and a member of the Chapel and Choir staff will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Wedding enquiry form

Wedding enquiry form

Start Over

Wedding charges
For all weddings taking place in 2024, the charges will be as follows: £1,600 (inclusive of priest, verger, use of organ, organist and administration)

The Dean of Divinity (which is what we call the College Chaplain) is The Revd Dr Andrew Bowyer. As Pastoral Chaplain to all members of Magdalen, whether or not they attend Chapel, he can be called on in Cloisters 4:2 for advice or help without appointment. He officiates at most Chapel services, preaches regularly, trains readers and intercessors, and is always delighted to prepare people for baptism, confirmation or marriage.

In addition to his responsibilities for services, he facilitates a broad range of activities outside Chapel, including the Stokesley Society, Chapel Fellowship, student discussions with visiting speakers, and the College’s annual retreat.

The Revd Dr Andrew Bowyer
Dean of Divinity
Room: Cloisters 4:2
Tel: 01865 276027

The Sacristans
The Sacristans are friendly students responsible for organising the altar servers who assist at every Sung Eucharist and at Benediction. They always enjoy training up fellow-students who would like to learn how to swing a thurible (the incense-pot) or carry a candle in procession.

This year’s Sacristans are Caroline Wyatt, Kathryn King and Martin Gazi.

The Verger
The Verger, Joan Jones, is likely to be the first person you see when you come to a service, since an important part of her job is to welcome you and help you find a seat. By long-standing custom, choral services at Magdalen start precisely on time (with the ringing of the bells in the Great Tower), so it’s always a good idea to arrive five or ten minutes early if you can.

Assisting and Honorary Chaplains
The Dean of Divinity receives liturgical assistance from the Fellows’ Chaplain, The Revd Professor Robert Gilbert (Fellow in Biochemistry) and Assistant Chaplain, Mr James Chegwidden, and from Honorary Chaplains, The Reverend Professor Sabina Alkire and The Reverend Elaine Bardwell. The Founder’s Chaplain, Dr Ralph Walker, leads prayers commemorating departed Benefactors of the College on appointed occasions in the course of the academic year.

The Chapel and Choir PA
Melanie Bennette
Room: Cloisters 2
Tel: 01865 286701

Sunday 15th January – Second Sunday after Epiphany
The Dean of Divinity – 11.00am
Magdalen College Oxford

Sunday 22nd January – Third Sunday after Epiphany
The Reverend Professor Sabina Alkire – 11.00am
Honorary Chaplain, Magdalen College Oxford

Sunday 29th January – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
The Reverend Wealands Bell – 11.00am
Honorary Chaplain, Magdalen College Oxford

Mr Roger Wagner – 6.00pm
Oxford-based artist and author

Sunday 5th February – Third Sunday before Lent (Septuagesima)
Dr Ralph Walker – 11.00am
Founder’s Chaplain, Magdalen College Oxford

Sunday 12th February – Second Sunday before Lent (Sexagesima)
The Dean of Divinity – 11.00am
Magdalen College, Oxford

Professor Frances Spalding CBE FRSL  – 6.00pm
Art historian and writer, Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge

Sunday 19th February – Sunday next before Lent (Quinquagesima)
The Reverend Professor Robert Gilbert  – 11.00am
Fellows’ Chaplain, Magdalen College Oxford

The Reverend Dr Mark Oakley  – 6.00pm
Dean of Chapel, Fellow & Tutor, St John’s College, Cambridge

Sunday 26th February– First Sunday in Lent
Ms Buki Fatona – 11.00am
Assistant Chaplain, Magdalen College Oxford

Sunday 5th March – Second Sunday in Lent
The Dean of Divinity – 11.00am
Magdalen College Oxford

Dr Chloe Reddaway  – 6.00pm
Research Fellow, King’s College, London


Sunday 15th January, 6.00pm, Service of Music & Readings for Epiphany
Sunday 22nd January, 6.00pm, Choral Evensong with The Admission of Sacristans

Wednesday 25th January, 6.00pm, Festal Evensong for the Conversion of St Paul
Friday 27th January, 6.00pm, Choral Evening Prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day
Thursday 2nd February, 6.00pm, Sung Eucharist with Procession of Candles for Candlemas (The Presentation of Christ in the Temple)

Saturday 4th February, 6.00pm, Choral Evensong with Instruments of Time & Truth
Monday 13th February, 6.00pm, Roman Catholic Mass
Saturday 18th February, 2.30pm, Memorial Service for Dr Catherine Wills*
Tuesday 21st February, 6.00pm, Choral Evensong for Shrove Tuesday with Distribution of Claymond’s Dole

Wednesday 22nd February, 6.00pm, Sung Eucharist for Ash Wednesday with Imposition of Ashes

Friday 24th February, 6.00pm, Choral Evening Prayer commemorating Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (matriculated 1952)

Saturday 25th February, 6.00pm, Choral Evensong sung jointly with the Foundation Scholars of Pimlico Musical Foundation

Wednesday 1st March, 6.00pm, Festal Choral Evensong for St David’s Day

Saturday 4th March, 6.00pm, Choral Evensong sung jointly with Salisbury Cathedral Youth Choir

Friday 17th March, 6.00pm, Festal Choral Evensong for St Patrick’s Day

Saturday 25th March, 6.00pm. Festal Choral Evensong for the Annunciation (before the Gaudy, 1971-74)

*This service is ticketed.  For details, please contact the Chapel & Choir Office.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) was an English essayist, poet, playwright, politician and Fellow of Magdalen. Every Thursday lunchtime during term from 1.00pm until 2.00pm, The Addison Society usually meets in the Dean of Divinity’s rooms (Cloisters 4:2) for a free lunch to talk about arts, culture, current affairs and faith.

All are welcome to this open, non-judgmental and frank discussion group. If you are interested in joining this group, then please speak to, or email, the Dean of Divinity.

Weekly, Tuesdays c. 9.30pm (following the Compline service), Old Practice Room

All are welcome but spaces are limited so please sign up via the Eventbrite link in the weekly Chapel email.

Wednesday 1st February, 9.45pm, Sophia Sheppard Room, Magalen Research Fellow, Dr Raymond Carlson on  ILLUMINATING DIVINE JUDGEMENT : ENGLISH PAINTED GLASS AND MICHAELANGELO’S LEGACY IN MAGDALEN CHAPEL

Sunday 12th February, 4.30pm – 5.30pm, Sophia Sheppard Room, Professor Frances Spalding on JOHN PIPER : LIFE & WORK

For other Chapel activities, please check the Magdalen College Chapel Term Card.