I love Christmas in New York, but it also makes me homesick for my mum’s Yorkshire puddings, mince pies and roaring fires. And, thanks to years of school carol concerts, it also doesn’t seem quite right without singing some tunes in church.
But I always make up for what I can. This year, I’ll attempt to make my own Yorkshire puds, stock up on mince pies courtesy of Myers of Keswick, and switch on the Yule Log. And the carol service? That’s where St Bart’s came in.
Last year, you might remember that I tried to join the church’s annual ‘caroling on the steps’ – but I got there too late! Instead, I wolfed down their cookies and met this guy:
Well this year, I wasn’t going to miss out. I pegged it out of work as soon as I could, jumped on the 6 train, and was at the church on 51st Street just as they were handing out the song books.
For half an hour, we bellowed Christmas classics and newer, more American tunes (English churches don’t do Rudolph or jingle bells) as a crowd gathered to watch us in the street.
While I struggled to hit the high notes and was forced to mouth a couple of tunes I’d never heard before, I snuggled up to my scarf and appreciated the Christmas hats, twinkling lights and grinning spectators. It was lovely – and definitely satisfied my need for a group effort Christmas singalong.
I nipped into the church afterwards too, and had a nosey around as I sipped hot cider.
Even if you’re not a fan of church services, I would really encourage you to get up to Midtown and check out St Bart’s. From the outside, it looks so squeezed between buildings and traffic, but on the inside, it’s spacious and tranquil.
As for the caroling on the steps, it’ll be over until next year, when I’ll no doubt be back! Keep an eye on the church’s calendar for when to expect it in 2015.
St Bart’s is on the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street, just a block from the 51st Street subway station. It’s open 9am until 6pm every weekday, and until 8pm on Wednesdays. Contact: 212-378-02222 or firstname.lastname@example.org