For over 500 years the first of May has been significant in Oxford. At six a.m. the Magdalen College Choir sing a hymn from the top of the Magdalen Tower and it is college tradition to stand on the High Street and the banks of the river below to hear it. Afterwards, there is music and Morris dancing in the streets. In recent years some students have further celebrated the event by jumping from Magdalen Bridge into the Cherwell but this is neither an ancient tradition nor particularly intelligent, as the water is quite shallow.
We try not to miss much but six a.m. was a bit ambitious for a family of four–especially since we’d have to leave at five to walk there, as the buses do not run that early on Sunday. We decided to hear the Choir of St. John’s, singing from their tower at seven-thirty. The listeners gathered on the college quad and said the Lord’s Prayer and the choir members climbed the tower.
We met some friends there, one a member of St. John’s, and headed afterwards to their house for crepes before church. It was a delightful way to enter May.