College Contemplations

It is with great delight that we are able to share our College Chapel Contemplations every Sunday evening during term at 6pm.

Whilst restrictions have paused our congregational gatherings, it is our hope that these short contemplations from Christ's Chapel, based around spoken word reflections and the beauty of solo singing, from a number of our choristers, will afford you opportunity for inspiration and encouragement.

We will continue to record and post a new Contemplation to be released every Sunday evening (term time) throughout the summer term. 

All thoughts and comments would be warmly received; do email the College Chaplain, Revd. Tim Buckler at

Sunday 27 June 6pm

Our College Chapel Contemplation for Sunday 27 June is the final Contemplation of this academic year. The Master shares a thought on the centrality of music within our individual and collective experience. Our Chapel Choir sing the Anthem: Ave Verum by Edward Elgar (words included below), the Collects for Evensong and the hymn: Love divine, all loves excelling with words by Charles Wesley. Dr John Carnelley plays Trumpet Tune by Henry Purcell and Church bells beyond the stars by our own Visiting Composer: Cecilia McDowall.

We are thankful to everyone who has taken the time to engage with our Contemplations this year and we hope that you have found these to be informative, enjoyable and spiritually uplifting. How lovely that our final Contemplation includes a larger number of our boys singing together (albeit socially distanced). We will continue to produce these weekly Contemplations next term and will wait to see the format that these will be allowed to take.

A closing word: we are delighted to be able to express our thanks within this Contemplation to Dr John Carnelley who retires from the College after 29 wonderful years. John: you will be missed; thank you for your dedicated service and generosity of spirit.

Ave Verum by Edward Elgar
Ave verum Corpus,
Natum ex Maria Virgine,
Vere passum, immolatum
In cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
Unda fluxit sanguine:
Esto nobis praegustatum
In mortis examine.
O dulcis, O pie!
O Jesu Fili Mariae. Amen.

Hail, real body,
born of the Virgin Mary,
who truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
whose pierced side
flowed with water and blood;
be unto us the foretaste
in the trial of death.
O gentle, O holy one!
O Jesu, Son of Mary. Amen

Sunday 20 June 6pm

Mrs Miranda Norris (Head of DUCKS) shares the reflection for our College Chapel Contemplation for Sunday 20 June. Using her many years of experience of working with younger learners, Mrs Norris highlights the strength, power and importance of words. Nicholas Richardson-Waldin sings An die Musik Op 88, No 4 by Franz Schubert and Dr John Carnelley plays A Voluntary for the Cornet Stop by John Travers and the Chorale prelude: Ein’ feste Burg, ist unser Gott by Max Reger.

Included below are the texts referred to by Mrs Norris:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

James 3:3-5

'Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death. A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:--
A word is but a breath of passing air.

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Sunday 13 June 6pm

Our Contemplation for Sunday 13 June provides a lovely introduction to our College focus on Refugee Week. Mrs Sue Mulholland shares our reflection, Olisaemeka Aghadiuno sings Samuel Barber’s Sure on this shining night Op 13, No 3 and Dr John Carnelley plays Largo Arioso BWV 1059 by J.S. Bach and Basse et Dessus de Trompette ou de Cornet Separé, en Dialogue by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault.

Inspired by Mrs Mulholland’s message, I include a link to a thought-provoking short clip from Ai Wei Wei’s Human Flow, a documentary spanning 23 countries talking to the individuals at the heart of the refugee crisis, including the story of Athiengh Kers, referred to in this evening’s talk:

Sunday 23 May 6pm

Our College Contemplation for Sunday 23 May provides the opportunity to listen to Mrs Caitlin Kelly (Deputy Head of Wellbeing) as she offers an introduction to our Mental Health Awareness week at the College (starting 24 May) with a particular focus on Nature. Leo Milne (Year 13) sings One Hand, One Heart by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), accompanied by Mr Dan Ludford-Thomas on the piano. Dr John Carnelley plays Chorale Prelude: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and Toccata from Suite Gothique by Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897).

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

 I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth (1802)

Sunday 16 May 6pm

Our Contemplation for Sunday 16 May affords us the opportunity to meet Archie Wright, our School Captain for the academic year 2021-22. In conversation with Revd. Buckler, Archie outlines the aims of his Senior Prefect team and highlights the values that underpin these aims. Nkem Mansaray (Year 7) sings The Lord’s Prayer by Michael Head  (1900-1976), Geremia Gover (Year 9) plays Meditation by Alan Bullard (b1947) and Dr John Carnelley plays Canzona in C Major (BuxWV 166) by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707).         

Sunday 9 May 6pm

Sunday 9 May is our third College Contemplation of the Summer term. Our Chaplain, Revd. Tim Buckler, reflects on the life and work of the celebrated English Poet and Jesuit Priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Oliver Butterworth (Year 7) sings Pie Jesu from Requiem Op 48 by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Dr John Carnelley plays Andante tranquillo in A Major from Organ Sonata No. 3 and Allegro assai vivace in F major from Organ Sonata No. 1, both by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).

The poem that Revd. Buckler makes reference to is included here in full:

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Sunday 2 May 6pm

We are delighted to welcome two of our Senior School Muslim pupils to share a thought at our Contemplation on Sunday 2 May. Mikyle Ossman (Year 13) and Sufiyan Siddique (Year 7) will be reflecting on the importance of and lessons learnt from Ramadan. William Lord (Year 12) sings Au bord de l’eau, Op 8 No 1 by Gabriel Fauré and Dr John Carnelley plays a voluntary by Benjamin Cosyn (Fellow Organist of Dulwich College 1622-1625) and a voluntary in G major, by Theophilus Cole (d1736) from the Dulwich College Archive (John Reading manuscripts).

Apologies in advance for the occasional poor visual quality during this Contemplation.

Sunday 25 April 6pm

Sunday 25 April is our first College Contemplation of the Summer term. Dr Joe Spence reflects on Stephen Lawrence Day in conjunction with the reading of three short poems. Henry Armstrong (Year 9) sings Vouchsafe, O Lord from Dettingen Te Deum by G. F. Handel and Dr John Carnelley plays 'Pastorella', BWV 590 and the Chorale Prelude: 'Valet will ich der geben' BWV 735 both by J. S. Bach.

Sunday 21 March 6pm

Sunday 21 March is our final College Contemplation of the term. Revd. Buckler shares an Easter thought, offering encouragement from Spring with reference to Victor Frankl and the colour of new life. Luke Jensen-Jones (Year 13) sings John Rutter's The Lord Bless You and Keep You and Dr John Carnelley plays extracts from the Offertoire (Messe pour les Couvents) by François Couperin. We hope that you have enjoyed these Contemplations and we look forward to continuing into the Summer Term. 

Sunday 14 March 6pm

Sunday 14 March's spoken word will be offered by Dr Joe Spence who, with visual reference to paintings by Rembrandt and Jan Victors, highlights the life of Queen Esther as an example of a woman who 'Chose to Challenge'. Taylor Lai (Year 6) sings César Franck's Panis Angelicus and Dr John Carnelley plays an extract from the Offertoire (Messe pour les Couvents) by François Couperin.

Sunday 7 March 6pm

A key focus for Sunday 7 March will be International Women’s Day and so it is fitting that Mrs Nathalie Whittington, our Head of Wellbeing, offers our third contemplation which focuses on this vital theme. Gilbert Edwards sings Gustav Holst The Heart Worship and James Storey plays J.S. Bach’s Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier BWV 731.

Sunday 28 February 6pm

Sunday 28 February's contemplation is a timely message delivered by Dr Cameron Pyke who reminds us of the value of 'looking out' and having eyes beyond ourselves. Our music is courtesy of Year 11 pupils James Storey and Alex Hemple.

Sunday 7 February 6pm

It is fitting that the Master, Dr Joe Spence, offered our first contemplation on 7 February 2021, based around the poetic version of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s post-war confessional prose ‘First they came…’. Nicholas Richardson-Waldin, the Head of Chapel Choir, sings Thus when the sun from watery bed from Handel’s Samson.

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