Choral Evensong (BBC)

Choral Evensong is the BBC's longest-running outside broadcast programme. The programme is a broadcast of the Anglican service of Choral Evensong (sung evening prayer) live from cathedrals, university college chapels and churches throughout the United Kingdom.[1]

Choral Evensong
Other namesChoral Vespers
GenreEvensong service
Running time60 minutes
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationBBC Home Service (until 1967)
BBC Radio 4 (1967–1970)
BBC Radio 3 (1970–present)
Original release7 October 1926 (1926-10-07) – present
Audio formatStereophonic sound
WebsiteOfficial website

On occasion, Choral Vespers from Catholic cathedrals (such as Westminster Cathedral), Orthodox Vespers, or a recorded service from choral foundations abroad are broadcast, at which time it is referred to as Choral Vespers.

It is transmitted every Wednesday at 15:30 during the Afternoon Concerts block on BBC Radio 3, with a repeat on Sunday afternoons at 15:00. The most recent broadcast is available on BBC Sounds for one month after the original broadcast. There is also an archive available.[1]


The first BBC broadcast of Choral Evensong came from Westminster Abbey in 1926
A BBC Radio Outside Broadcasts van at New College, Oxford in February 2006.

The first edition was relayed by the British Broadcasting Company from Westminster Abbey on 7 October 1926.[1][2] The programme continued on the BBC Home Service, later BBC Radio 4, until 8 April 1970 when it moved to BBC Radio 3.

In 1970 the programme was reduced to just one broadcast per month, but the BBC received 2,500 letters of complaint, and weekly transmissions were resumed on 1 July of that same year.[3][4]

In 2007 the live broadcast was switched to Sundays, which again caused protests.[5] The live transmission returned to Wednesdays in September 2008, with a recorded repeat on Sunday afternoons at approximately the same time. Choral Evensong forms part of Radio 3's religious programming remit, although non-religious listeners have also campaigned for its retention.[4]

Its 80th and 90th anniversary programmes were celebrated live from Westminster Abbey, with services on 11 October 2006 and 28 September 2016 respectively.[6][7]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Choral Evensong". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Radio Times listing". BBC Genome Project. 23 July 2018.
  3. ^ Humphrey Carpenter (1996). The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3, 1946-1996. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 262–263. ISBN 978-0-297-81830-4.
  4. ^ a b "Paul Donovan, Radio Waves: Praise Be". London: Sunday Times. 8 October 2006. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Protests at move for radio evensong". Church Times, 17 November 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
  6. ^ "Choral Evensong 80th Anniversary". BBC. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Choral Evensong 90th Anniversary". BBC. Retrieved 28 September 2016.