Virtual Christmas services and music to enjoy from home

Posted Dec 22, 2021

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, decorated for Christmas. Courtesy photo

[Episcopal News Service] As the Omicron variant continues to disrupt the holiday season, a variety of options are available to participate in the familiar liturgical rituals of Christmas. Whether your parish is doing its own virtual service or not, here are some options that anyone with Internet access can participate in. All events listed are free to view online, unless specified otherwise. All times are local.

Washington National Cathedral

The National Cathedral’s Christmas family service has been canceled, but the Christmas Lessons & Carols services, with readings from Scripture, favorite hymns and music, will still be livestreamed at 6 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 23 and 24. Then, at 10 p.m., the big Christmas Eve Eucharist service begins, with hymns, choral and instrumental music and preaching by Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. The Christmas Day Eucharist has been canceled.

On Dec. 25 at 1:30 p.m., organists Thomas Sheehan and George Fergus present a program of festive Christmas music on the cathedral’s Great Organ. Registration is required but free (though donations are welcome).

Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, California)

The seat of the Diocese of California’s beloved Christmas pageant, featuring performances by children and narration from Bishop Marc Andrus, from be available to watch on YouTube starting at 11 a.m. Pacific on Dec. 24. The Christmas Lessons & Carols service, featuring hymns sung by the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, will stream at 4 p.m. Then, at 7:30 p.m., tune in to the Christmas Eve Choral Eucharist with a sermon from Bishop Andrus and your favorite Christmas hymns with the cathedral choirs and Christmas orchestra, or the Midnight Mass Choral Eucharist at 10:30 p.m.

The Christmas Day Choral Eucharist begins on Dec. 25 at 11 a.m. with festive music, hymns and readings.

Trinity Church Wall Street

The festivities begin with the Christmas Eve family Eucharist at 4 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 24 with traditional Christmas carols and a children’s sermon. The festive Christmas Eve Eucharist service is at 8 p.m., with music from choirs, the Trinity Youth Chorus and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, preceded by selections from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. There is also a contemplative candlelight compline service at 8 p.m., which will be livestreamed from the Trinity Retreat Center on Facebook and Instagram.

On Christmas Day, the festive Nativity Eucharist takes place at 11:15 a.m., followed by another live compline service at 8 p.m.

The University of the South

The Episcopal university in Sewanee, Tennessee, presents its 62nd annual lessons and carols service as a pre-recorded video, available to watch any time.

Christ Church Cathedral (Houston, Texas)

The cathedral’s virtual offerings on Dec. 24 include a Rite II Eucharist service at 4 p.m. Central, La Santa Eucaristía Rito II en español at 6, another English Rite II Eucharist at 8 p.m. and a Rite I Eucharist at 11 p.m., as well as a Rite I Eucharist at 10 a.m. Dec. 25.

St. Thomas Church (New York, New York)

For those who treasure the Anglican choral tradition and high liturgy, this Manhattan church, famous for its choir of men and boys, will livestream its Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 4 p.m. It will then celebrate a Solemn Eucharist of the Nativity sung by the choir at 10:30 p.m and another at 11 a.m. Dec. 25.

Diocese of Pennsylvania/Diocese of Jerusalem

Through the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s partnership with the Diocese of Jerusalem in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East (a province of the Anglican Communion), the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, present their 15th annual Simulcast Christmas Service. Hear familiar carols and readings in Arabic and English and a special Christmas homily from Bishop Sani Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. The hourlong service is available to enjoy any time.