London Church for Christmas Eve service?

Nov 30th, 2014, 06:12 PM
  #1  
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London Church for Christmas Eve service?

We're visiting London staying near the Russell Sq station and seeking recommendations on a nice Christmas Eve church service. Westminster Abbey is sold out but it doesn't have to be a major Cathedral but possibly something unique? Thank you!
vacaman2 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 08:37 PM
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Try St. Paul's. If not, try St. Martin -in-the-Fields. I'm sure there will be beautiful Christmas music there.
letsgeaux is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 09:06 PM
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By definition, no mainstream midnight Christmas Eve service can be unique.

The whole point of the standard Catholic and Anglican midnight liturgies is that they scarcely vary between churches, wherever you are: in London, that either means a sung Latin High Mass in the dozen or so main Catholic churches and in the main couple of dozen Anglican churches, a slightly despecified version with plainer music, more carols, the English of the 1611 Authorised Version and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and a larger choir.

But it's almost certain you won't have an equivalent of St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, back home.

In a sense the oldest Catholic church in the English-speaking world, it's the only medieval church building in London used by Catholics (and, surprisingly, among the three or four oldest parish churches of any denomination in town.) It performs the more or less standard Christmas Eve Haydn Mass with plainsong responses and a small but often perfect choir. Best of all: there's none of the sense of attending a packed out football match too many of Europe's great churches convey at Midnight Mass or Anglican/Lutheran midnight communions.

It's also an extraordinarily atmospheric 20 mins or so walk back to Russell Square in the early morning

Music list at http://www.stetheldreda.com/wp-conte...Music-List.pdf
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 02:54 AM
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A nice suggestion, Flanner.

I am not Roman Catholic, not even Anglo Catholic, but as an observant Episcopalian, I would appreciate this worship should I ever be in London at Christmas. I especially like your suggestion of a reflective walk home after worship.

My good intentions assume, of course, that I could actually stay awake until midnight, and this is a case in which the spirit is more than willing, but the eyelids are weak.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 06:38 AM
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I'd avoid the obvious and go to St. Ethledreda's as suggested. It went to services there several years ago. Lovely.
historytraveler is online now  
Dec 1st, 2014, 06:41 PM
  #6  
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Wonderful suggestions, thanks to all. Not sure which way we will go but we sure have two great choices, thanks again!
vacaman2 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 07:54 PM
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We were at Westminster Abbey last Christmas Eve. If you really want to go there, there is a good chance you'll get in. Tyere are two queues: one for those with tickets and onevfor those without, who would get in if there were no-shows. We had tickets; behind us in the queue there was a couple with a friend who had no ticket. She was trying to decide whether to chance it in the no-show queue. By the time she decided to try,that queue was rather long, but later we saw her walking past our seats, so it seemed to us that most of the people withoutvtickets got in.

Westminster Abbey was indeed packed, and you couldn't see much from many of the seats, including ours. However, the atmosphere was not at all like a stadium. Those in attendance were quiet except at the responses and when singing. The choir and the readers moved around so that they were near various parts of the abbey during the service. And we could have had a quiet reflection on the way back to our apartment, but my granddaughter was a bit too excited for reflection.

Of course, if you want to be sure of attending a Christmas Eve service, St. Etheldreda's may be a better alternative. It is a beautiful church.
bvlenci is offline  
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