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01st May 2010

Exeter marks Ascension Day with traditional tower-top service

Every year, Exeter marks Ascension Day with a service at the top of the tower, with hardy members of College rising early to climb the tower and welcome the day with readings by the Rector and students, and singing by the College’s acclaimed choir. This year the service proved as popular as ever, and one of the students who attended wrote this report for us.

“Climbing the winding stairs above the lodge, to emerge under a pristine blue sky, we gathered to celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven.

With the sun newly risen above distant hills and the spire pointing up to a cloudless sky, we listened as the choir sang the quietly potent psalm, ‘Dixit Dominus’.

Nearly a hundred members of the college huddled above the lodge between the railings and sandstone crenellations, a dazzling yellow in the early morning light. Despite the vertiginous climb, the spectacular views across Oxford left many students wishing they had brought a camera.

Following the readings, and as the rest of college stirred beneath our feet, our thoughts were drawn upwards as the choir sang Charles Stanford’s antiphonal and literally uplifting, ‘Coelos ascendit hodie’ – ‘Today has gone up into heaven Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, Alleluia!’

After the calm of the prayers came the rousing hymn, ‘Hail the day that sees him rise’, and snatching one last glimpse of the town from above, we returned to start the rest of the day, a day observed by millions worldwide, with a cooked breakfast in hall.”

Mark Gilbert (2008, Mathematics)

Photo by Akshat Rathi (2008, Organic Chemistry)

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