The Handbook
The Handbook

Yes, yes, we know tier 3 sucks, but there is hope on the horizon. After the government’s constant back and forth and change in rules, they obviously asked the one question we’ve all been missing. What would Jesus do? The answer? Write up specific carol singing regulations that allow us to hear our favourite songs in places of worship.

The general rule seems to be that you can attend such events as long as you are in your bubble, wearing face coverings, not joining in on the singing if you’re inside, and keeping your distance from everyone. Sounds festive. These rules mean that capacity is going to be an issue for chapels, churches and cathedrals dotted around the city so it’s vital to book ahead if you want to hear some cheery fa la la las. Here’s where you can book…

1. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s has been through the Great Fire of London, The Blitz and now Covid. And still it stands. Throughout advent it will be celebrating the story of Jesus with different events. Listen to angelic voices reverberate around the great dome and take in a few of your favourite festive carols. Due to Covid restrictions, you have to book ahead as they are working at around a tenth of their capacity. For Christmas Eve they’ll be telling the story of the birth of Christ through words and music with help from the Cathedral Choir and local London community singers.

When: Thursday 24 December, 4pm – 5pm
Where: St. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD

2. Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral will be hosting three lively carol services in the run up to Christmas. The cathedral has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,000 years, and there’s no stopping them this winter. You have to register to attend, and most tickets have gone, but keep an eye out for any returns, as they’ll be passing the seats on.

When: 20-22 December
Where: London Bridge, SE1 9DA

3. Emmanuel Centre, Westminster

What are your plans on the Sunday before Christmas? A lie in? Cup of tea in bed? Think again. It’s time to don your hats and scarves, get your bubble out the door, and head on down to the Emmanuel Center in Westminster for some festive carolling. Make sure to sign up by Friday 18th or you won’t have a spot. For extra festive fun they’ll be handing out glowsticks and take-home treats to enjoy. 

When: Sunday 20 December, 10.30am  – 11.30am
Where: 9-23 Marsham Street, Westminster, SW1P 3DW

4. St John’s Church, Waterloo

After months of silent services, St John’s Church is delighted to sing their way to Christmas. Featuring the London Metropolitan Brass quintet, the service will follow the much-loved ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ format. They’ll open with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, followed by short Bible readings, poems and Christmas carols. The service will take place in the churchyard, just next to the church, so wrap up in warm clothes. It’ll be a lovely way to sing together as socially-distanced community for the first time since early March. In case of bad weather, the service will be transferred indoors, where, unfortunately, singing will not be permitted.

When: Sunday 20 December, 5pm – 6pm
Where: 73 Waterloo Road, SE1 8TY

You might have understood the formula for this article by now. Singing, social distancing, fun times in a church. Get booking.

5. St Peter’s Church Walworth

Tucked on a quiet street near Elephant & Castle is the small and charming St Peter’s Church. There’s a delightfully villagey feel around this church and no doubt it will feel even more so in the evening. The church will be running a service of Christmas music, readings and prayers. If you’re not free to attend, you can always catch up on Facebook where it will be streaming live.

When: Sunday 20 December, 5pm – 6pm
Where: Liverpool Grove, Camberwell, SE17 2HH

6. St George In The East Church

Join St George In The East Church for their Parish Carol Service this Sunday. The young, hip church has a weekly podcast where you catch up on sermons, an array of festive activities and also a route for a spiritual walking tour. You can use their map, which begins and ends at the church, to guide you to seven stops at different locations in the parish where members of the congregation have found a sense of God’s presence and peace. Just make sure you make it back in time for the singing.

When: Sunday 20 December, 8pm
Where: 14 Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, E1 0BH

7. All Saints Church, Tooting

All Saints is a friendly Anglican church in the heart of Tooting and wants everyone to feel welcomed, included and encouraged here. It is a place where people can explore the Christian faith at their own pace and find companionship, help and support. They will be offering a traditional service of your favourite carols and some festive readings.

 When: Sunday 20 December, 6.30pm
Where: Brudenell Road, Tooting, SW17 8DQ

8. St John the Evangelist, Norwood 

Over at St John the Evangelist they are holding three Christmas Carol services, to allow everyone to attend their popular annual event. On Sunday they’ll be having an afternoon community carol service with Katie Rose’s Welcome Choir, then later that evening St John’s own choir will be taking to the stage, and then the following day the congregation will be joined by the Concordia Chamber Choir. Golly that’s a lot of singing to be had.

When: 20-21 December
Where: Sylvan Road, St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, SE19 2RX

9. Inspire Saint James Clerkenwell

Come and enjoy a traditional carol service at Inspire Saint James Clerkenwell, a united and diverse gospel community. The mission of this church is to unify the fragmented city of London, which, according to their website, is one of the most socially and economically segregated cities in Europe. They want to bring people together and celebrate our differences. There’s no better way to do this than through some hearty singing.

When: Sunday 20 December, 6pm – 7.15pm
Where: Inspire Saint James Clerkenwell, Saint James Clerkenwell, EC1R 0EA

10. St Mary the Virgin Mortlake

You might have understood the formula by now for this article. Singing, social distancing, fun times in a church. The same goes for this church in Mortlake, which is hosting Carols by Candlelight with music sung by the distanced choir, bible readings and poetry.

When: Sunday 20 December 2020, 6.30pm – 7.30pm
Where: Mortlake High Street, SW14 8JA

11. St Anne’s Church, Soho

We’ve saved the best ’til last, but you better be quick because it’s tonight and tomorrow. A traditional service is taking place in London but with a Soho twist. There will be Christmas carols, readings and prayers, as well as mulled wine, vegan hot chocolate and mince pies. It’s basically a pub that celebrates Jesus. We’ll see you there.

When: 17-18 December, 
Where: 55 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 6AF

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