Magdalen College Choir – First Day of May

30th April 2019

Thousands of people are expected to gather at dawn in the streets of Oxford to hear Magdalen College Choir sing the ‘Hymnus Eucharisticus’ from the top of the College’s Great Tower to herald in the first day of May, ‘May Day’.

This hymn has been sung from the top of the Great Tower on May morning since the music was composed by Magdalen Fellow and Informator Choristarum, Benjamin Rogers in the late 17th century.

This ceremony, which draws on Christian tradition, saw a record 27,000 people reported to have attended in 2017 – in sharp contrast to a recent British Social Attitudes survey suggesting a dramatic decrease in the number of people who consider themselves religious.

And it’s not just the May Morning ceremony that is enjoying an increase in attendance. There is a quiet revolution in college chapels and cathedrals across the UK as more and more of us are making time for choral evensong.

The latest Church of England data shows a 37 per cent increase in the number of people who attend weekday services in cathedrals since 2017. Today, well over 18,000 a week attend.

BBC Radio 3’s weekly broadcast, Choral Evensong, is currently enjoying its largest audience in the programme’s 92-year history with a 34 per cent leap in listener numbers in 2016.

Choral evensong from Magdalen is live on BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong on Wed 8 May at 3.30pm and repeated on Sunday 12 May at 3pm

The College is always keen to welcome more people to enjoy their music. Choral evensong in Magdalen College Chapel can be found at

If you don’t live near Oxford, you can find a service near you at and