Richard Smail, Priest-in-charge of Rousham and a former Fellow and Chaplain of Brasenose

MOST people in the diocese know that our cathedral has a world-famous choir, and that choral evensong is sung most evenings, with a full range of services on Sundays.

What generally goes unnoticed is that all cathedral worship is underpinned by the daily recital of morning prayer at 7.15am and a celebration of the eucharist immediately afterwards.

These services are open to all and provide a wonderfully serene and prayerful preparation for the day, although at the moment they remain a resource little used by people in the diocese.

Morning prayer, which is said in the Latin Chapel, is attended by the Dean and Canon (both lay and ordained), and forms an important part of the collegial life of the Chapter. This is a service of the Word which lasts about 20 minutes, and includes substantial psalms and two Bible readings.

The Common Worship service is followed. This antiphonal recitation of the psalms provides an opportunity for quiet, meditative feeding on words which have formed part of Jewish and Christian worship since the earliest times.

The eucharist which follows also uses the contemporary form of Common Worship with a variety of eucharistic prayers.

Members of the Chapter celebrate in rotation. Intercessions include prayer requests left the previous day and members of the cathedral community who are sick are prayed for by name.

This quiet service, at which communicants usually form a semicircle in front of the altar to receive the sacrament, speaks powerfully of community and of a shared commitment to Christ in his sacramental presence. The celebration, which is attended by some members of the Chapter, a few "regulars" and occasional visitors, provides a calm yet joyful prelude to the day.

Although morning prayer is said day by day in the Latin Chapel, where the facing stalls enhance the antiphonal nature of the service, the eucharist is celebrated in different chapels according to the day of the week.

The tiny Lucy Chapel is used on Mondays. In the window behind its altar is some of the earliest stained glass in the cathedral, including a portrayal of the martyrdom of St Thomas a Becket.

On Tuesdays, the service is held in the Chapel of Remembrance (formerly called the Military Chapel). Here sacrifice of a different kind is commemorated, since each chair bears the name of a soldier who died in the First World War. A simple stone commemorates the poet WH Auden, a former member of the House who worshipped here.

On Wednesdays the Dean celebrates in the newest of the chapels. This commemorates Bishop George Bell, a Scholar and Student (Fellow) of Christ Church who went on to be Bishop of Chichester. He died in 1958.

Bell is famous as a great ecumenist and a friend of the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: he was the recipient of Bonhoeffer’s final message before his execution by the Nazis in April 1945. But Bell’s bravest moment was when he spoke out in the House of Lords against the Allies’ policy of ‘carpet-bombing’ German cities.

On Thursdays and Fridays the eucharist is celebrated in the Lady Chapel. Here the altar is a simple plinth and light is provided not by altar candles but by a corona above. In the middle of the aisle is a stone commemorating St Frideswide, patron of Oxford.

Saturday’s services are in the Latin Chapel, so that over the course of a week worshippers complete a journey across the cathedral from south to north, and experience a range of settings and styles of celebration. It is as though each chapel has its own identity, and so a week’s worship can feel like a pilgrimage in miniature.

Busy people often complain that they have little or no time to pray. May I commend these calm, quiet, thoughtful services which provide just such a chance? I can think of no better way to start the day.