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St Stephen’s House, Oxford, launches Institute of Sacred Music

14 April 2023

It is being created in partnership with the Royal School of Church Music

Creative Commons/Timothy Titus

The main quad of St Stephen’s House, Oxford, photographed from inside the west cloister

The main quad of St Stephen’s House, Oxford, photographed from inside the west cloister

ST STEPHEN’S HOUSE, Oxford, is launching an Institute of Sacred Music, in partnership with the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM).

The college, an Anglican theological foundation, hopes that the new qualifications of postgraduate diploma and MA in Worship and Liturgical Studies will be “the most sought-after qualifications in liturgy and worship for musicians anywhere in the world”. It has been planned for two years, and has grown out of the international summer schools that are part of the college’s annual programme.

The college’s Vice-Principal, the Revd Andreas Wenzel, said that, had such a course existed 20 years earlier, “I would have been on it.” He described it as a coming together of institutions that could offer educational programmes to church musicians, theologians, lay musicians, and others: something that St Stephen’s House was uniquely placed to provide.

“The qualifications allow us to share our heritage, the unique experiential contexts of the University of Oxford, and rigorous academic formation with a worldwide audience,” he said last week.

Aspects such as history of liturgy will be taught mainly in the online part of the qualification, while the practical involvement will come when students are in residence for a required single term.

The RSCM will provide ten lectures, reflecting on cultural topics such as all-age and interfaith worship, and music in the context of secular society. Its director, Hugh Morris, described music as “a transformational tool for the Church and its mission”, and the new initiative as “a wonderful opportunity to bring aspiration to tangible life”.

The qualifications fall within the college’s partnership with Durham University, through the Church of England’s Common Award scheme. A senior research fellow of the college, Dr James Whitbourn, said: “Students are likely to come from all over the world with experiences of liturgy and music drawn from their own practical and academic study.

“But here they will have their own place in one of the most densely populated choral cities in the world, with its numerous outstanding choirs and its unparalleled variety of choral singing.”


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