The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge today [21 April] launch eight weeks of daily virtual services, hosted on its Facebook page, seeking to continue Chapel worship whilst the Chapel is closed due to COVID-19. The services feature recordings from recent live services in the Chapel paired with short reflections and sermons by the Chapel’s Dean and Chaplain, recorded from their homes. Each service will be between 15-20 minutes and will be free to watch for 24 hours. Through this ‘Virtual Chapel’, the College hopes to encourage people to worship from their own homes, wherever they are in the world.

The College will release virtual services in the same pattern as its usual timetable, with the Choir of St John’s uploading an Evening Service at 6:30pm every evening from Tuesday to Sunday in addition to a Morning Reflection at 10:30am on Sunday. Each Monday Evening Service will feature St John’s Voices and other services include College Communion at 8:30am on Sunday and Morning Prayer at 8:30am Monday to Friday. The services will be in line with the liturgical calendar, including Ascension Day and Pentecost.

Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music, has chosen to include a wide variety of music from recent live services. The first week of services, starting today [21 April], includes recordings of works by Wesley, Purcell and Weir in addition to a work by Cambridge student and 2012 BBC Young Musician Concerto Finalist Sophie Westbrooke, which was premiered by the Choir last month.

The Rev’d Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, says:
“We have been discovering again that human beings are made for relationships and when personal encounters are very limited we begin to feel less than we can or should be. The Chapel wants to play its part and ensure that the College community, and all our friends wherever they may be, can have the opportunity to pause together and reflect, pray and attend to our inner lives, and our hopes for the future, with the help of the College Choir and St John’s Voices.”

Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, says:
“Whilst aiming to comfort people with familiar repertoire, I am also seeking to introduce people to fine music which they may not have heard before. In the latter category I am especially keen to promote works by women composers. Music which has been commissioned for the College Choir is indicated by an asterisk, together with the year of its composition.”

“I write this in early April, not knowing what the next few months will bring. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are unwell, bereaved, unemployed and furloughed, as well as all who feel socially and spiritually isolated. In these short acts of worship we thank God for those who are working so hard to protect and support us. I hope we can provide some nourishment for the many musicians, including our own, who are starved of the usual joy of making music together. We also offer these services to those who are not allowed to enter their own Churches, Cathedrals and Chapels. Whether or not you are a person of faith, we hope to contribute to daily moments of solace.