Published: Friday, 24 April 2020

Oxford City Council is inviting the community of Oxford to get involved in the May Morning this year using #MayMorning – a virtual celebration of the more than 500 year old event.

Despite the May Morning 2020 preparations originally being cancelled following the Government’s advice on mass gatherings, the tradition of the unique annual event will be continuing online.

This year, the City Council is inviting members of public to share their May Morning memories and home celebrations on social media using the hashtag #MayMorning.

The event, which is unique to Oxford, traditionally sees the public gather along High Street and Magdalen Bridge on 1 May to watch choristers sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from atop Magdalen College’s Great Tower – with approximately 13,500 people attending the celebrations last year.

Following the choir’s performance, traditional events and activities, including Morris Dancing and folk music, take place across the city as the bells of the Great Tower ring out.


Hymnus Eucharisticus

This year, continuing tradition, #MayMorning will begin online at 6am and will be opened by the Choir of Magdalen College welcoming in Spring with Hymnus Eucharisticus and a traditional madrigal for May Morning.

Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen College and has been sung every year on May Morning ever since.

The Choir’s May Morning pre-recorded performance will take place at 6am on air on their Facebook page at 6am.

Community celebration and performances

Following the Choir’s performance, and continuing the tradition of groups and individuals holding their own the May Morning events and activities, the City Council is asking members of the public to share pictures, videos poems, songs, and more of their May Morning memories on social media using the hashtag #MayMorning.

Performers who want to hold their own May Morning celebrations at home – such as Morris Dancing, folk music performances, street dancing, or acrobatics are also being invited to also use the hashtag and show off their skills from their homes and gardens.

The City Council will be sharing these messages and performances on their social media throughout the day.

Horns of Plenty

One group which will be taking part is street band Horns of Plenty, which can often be found performing during the May Morning celebrations.

At 8am the group will be performing the song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ from their doors and windows across the city.  They are encouraging members of the public to get involved and join them by singing, playing, or humming along.

The lyrics, sheet music for various instruments in concert C, Bb and Eb, and the chords for ukulele or guitar can all be found on the Horns of Plenty website.

Daily info

Daily Info is organising a virtual May Morning from 6am through a live video on their Facebook page.

The stream will include Hymnus Eucharisticus, Morris dancing, musical performances, a history of May Day, and a May Day singalong.

Get involved

If you want to get involved in the celebrations, share your memories and at home celebrations on Friday 1 May from 6am using the hashtag #MayMorning on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

"Despite the current coronavirus pandemic, we want to continue the tradition of May Morning celebrations in a safe online environment. May Morning is a unique event here in Oxford that many of us look forward to, and have attended over the years. We want to encourage everyone, old or young, whether this is your 50th May Morning celebration, or your first, to come and join in the fun and celebrate with us online. All we ask is that everyone follows social distancing measures and is safe during the celebrations.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and the City Centre

“On May Morning in Oxford we take to the streets to celebrate both the coming of spring and the creativity of the wonderful people of Oxford. The Horns of Plenty love that moment when the last notes from the choristers die away and the crowds flood up the High St ready to dance as we play.  In these strange times, we will keep the tradition alive by playing and singing from our gardens, doors and windows.  Please join us at 8 a.m. and the online celebrations before and after.”

Jude Stratton, Horns of Plenty

“May Morning is a highlight of our calendar, so, when I mentioned the idea of a virtual May Morning to the choir, everyone was delighted to take part. It’s been tricky to get everyone all together, but I am glad that the members of the Choir have thrown themselves into this. We’re pleased that we will still be able to celebrate May Morning with the Magdalen community – and with thousands of others – this year.”

Mark Williams, Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College

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