Visiting Choirs are a valued part of our ministry here at Christ Church. Indeed we are proud of our rich musical heritage, with the Cathedral fortunate in being able to lay claim to important composer-organists, such as John Taverner in the Sixteenth Century, right up to leading figures from the world of Twentieth Century music, such as William Walton. The Cathedral is unique in being both the Mother Church of the Diocese of Oxford as well as the College Chapel and, as such, is home to three distinct choirs: our world famous Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys; the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, a mixed voice choir who sing daily during vacations; and the College Choir, a mixed choir composed mainly of undergraduates at Christ Church who sing on Mondays during Oxford University Full Term. The high quality contribution from Visiting Choirs can be seen as a direct extension of our local tradition and we value the time and effort which goes into planning a visit to our Cathedral.
• three weeks in August (beginning on the Tuesday of the second week)
• the period between St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) and New Year’s Day inclusive
• occasional dates which arise due to the absence of one of our own choirs
We are keen to accommodate choirs, but priority is given to those groups who can commit to a week long slot, that is to say from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive:
• Evensongs on each day at 6pm (except for Thursday when a Sung Eucharist is celebrated)
• Choral services on a Sunday consist of a Eucharist at 11.15am and Evensong at 6pm
Matins on Sundays is usually a spoken service, with hymns, in order that Visiting Choirs have the opportunity to rehearse ahead of the Eucharist. If visiting groups have a desire to sing for Matins in addition to the Eucharist then this can be arranged.
To ease the pressure on SATB choirs over a week, you might like to consider using reduced forces e.g. Upper Voices or Men’s Voices.
Choice of Repertoire
Evensong choices will need to include the following:
In addition to the Psalm(s) set for the day, and Hymn(s)
Eucharist choices will need to include the following:
• Mass Setting: Kyrie, Gloria (omitted in Advent and Lent), Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei;
sung in either Latin or English
• Communion Motet
In addition to a Psalm (Sunday only), Gospel Alleluia with Verse, and the leading of Sung Congregational Responses (e.g. Sursum Corda) and the Creed.
The Sunday Eucharist is central to our weekly round of worship and, as such, care should be taken by the choir to familiarise itself with the liturgy. A simple Mass Setting and Communion Motet are acceptable if they help the group to adjust to local traditions.
We do not normally sing Introits at Christ Church.
You will need to provide your own organist for the duration of your visit. He or she should be of a suitable standard and be comfortable accompanying on our Rieger organ.
Oxford tends to become very full during the summer months so it is highly advisable to book accommodation well in advance.
The following links may be of use when booking a place to stay:
Parking in Christ Church, and Oxford in general, is extremely limited. If possible, you should plan your trip using public transport. We understand that vehicles carrying music and robes etc. may need access to the Cathedral, in which case you will need to arrange this through the Precentor’s Office well in advance of your residency.
If you would like to bring a choir to sing for services at Christ Church then please get in touch with the Precentor, Revd John Paton, via:
It would be useful to have links to audio/a CD of a recent service sung by the choir (preferably including an example of Anglican Psalmody) as well as any recommendations from other Cathedrals which may have hosted the group on a recent tour.
Once we have agreed to your visit then we will send through our more comprehensive ‘Notes for Visiting Choirs’ as well as details of psalms, readings, and hymns, in addition to any special orders of service. We look forward to welcoming you here in due course.