St. George's Chapel is the heart of the Hilltop
From the time of St. George’s founding, faith and the search for meaning have played significant roles in the life of the school and its students. While the school is an independent school in its operations and funding, early in its history St. George’s aligned itself with the Episcopal Church, an affiliation that continues to this day.
Students attend required chapel twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, and there are additional, optional services held at other points during the week. On Tuesday, at “Short Chapel,” the service features student speakers from the sixth form, a hymn and prayers. The Thursday service is a full worship service and follows the Episcopal liturgy of Morning Prayer.
Recognizing the diverse faith backgrounds of the school community and the world, the Chapel program operates in keeping with the Episcopal Christian tradition of inclusiveness, and students of all religious faiths are embraced at Chapel. The Chapel program and the Religious Studies curriculum are designed to support students in their lives of faith and their pursuit of truth, whatever their religious backgrounds, and to develop their knowledge of different religious traditions. Students who wish to attend services off campus in their own religious traditions are allowed and encouraged to do so.
The diploma requirements in Theology and Religious Studies depend on the year in which a student enrolls at St. George’s. For students arriving in the ninth grade, the requirement is three trimesters of religious studies. Students enrolling as tenth-graders are required to take two trimesters of religious studies, while those coming in the eleventh grade take one trimester. Available courses include the study of Christianity (Old and New Testament) as well as courses examining the other major religions of the world, religious themes in literature and ethics.
Considered a landmark of English Gothic Revival architecture, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Chapel was designed by Ralph Adams Cram, and includes the work of famed artisans and sculptors. Beyond the beauty of its spaces, there are many beloved school traditions connected to the Chapel. For more than a century, the school has gathered in December to celebrate at the Christmas Festival and since the consecration of the Chapel, the headmaster has traditionally recited the School Prayer at each chapel service.
Almighty God, the Fountain of all Wisdom, without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, we beseech Thee to bless the members of this school with Thy perpetual presence and prosper them in their work. Keep their hearts free from sin. May they be truthful and reverent in their speech, earnest and faithful in their studies, kind and considerate in their dealings with each other and always ready to help the unprotected and helpless. Bless, we beseech Thee, the teachers of this school and impress upon them a due sense of the responsibilities of their charge. We pray that from these walls students may go forth, generation after generation, well equipped for the battle of life and ready to contend bravely for God and the truth. And this we ask in the name of Him who died for our salvation, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
O Lord of Truth, and Power and Life
Whose service makes Thy children free,
Arm these Thy followers, in their strife,
Who fall, if holding not by Thee.
Fill them with high and holy zeal
In lonely task or busy throng,
Their souls with heaven-born courage steel,
And in They strength, O make them strong.
Then, Lord, to every humble mind
Thy wisdom more and more impart,
Till all who seek, in faith may find
The blessing of the pure in heart
Her let Thy Love and Truth abound,
Changeless as yonder changeless sea,
And ever may these walls resound
With grateful voices praising Thee.
For, brighter far than sun or star
That shines above this windswept slope
The greatness and Thy glory are;
Our sun of life and star of hope!
So, Lord though each successive year,
Till earth’s last night for them shall fall,
To sons and daughters who serve Thee here,
Be Thou Beginning, End, and All.
Text: Louise Diman (1869-1954) Tune: Duke Street, John Hatton (1710-1793)