Ascension Day

Thursday, 21 May 2020 -
10:30am to 7:30pm
The Ascension Day Carol

Our Ascension Day services include Sung Eucharist at 10:30, the singing of the Ascension Day Carol from the tower at 12, and Festal Evensong at 6:30 pm.

All are welcome to join us for any of these services: enter through the College's Great Gate on St John's Street.

The custom of the Ascension Day carol dates from 1902 and was begun by the then Director of Music, Cyril Rootham, following a conversation with Sir Joseph Larmor. Sir Joseph was insistent that a choir on the top of the tower would not be heard from the ground. Rootham was keen to prove him wrong and saw Ascension Day was the obvious time to do it. Without telling anyone apart from the members of the choir, they ascended the tower and as the clock finished striking noon, they started to sing an Ascension Day motet. To Rootham’s delight, he saw Sir Joseph open his window in the courtyard below to see where the music was coming from. The event proved very popular as people gathered below to listen and since then it has been repeated every year.


St John's College Chapel
St John's Street
United Kingdom

Share this

Latest release

October 2019

In their first ever album dedicated solely to the Evening Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis), the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge releases Magnificat, a celebration of their daily tradition of Evensong.

Latest webcast

Recorded on
2 November 2019

This week's webcast is taken from a Eucharist commemorating All Souls departed. Composers have approached the topic of death in a multitude of fashions, but Fauré himself described his attitude towards death 'as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful

Latest news

Sir Stephen Cleobury

We are saddened to hear of the loss of Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music at King's for 37 years and former St John's Organ Scholar (1967-71)

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer