Candlelight Carol Service


The 47th Annual Candlelight Carol Service

was Monday, December 20, 2021

See it here now and throughout the holiday season!




Join us!

The 46th Candlelight Carol Service on December 13th, 2020

will, of course, be held via Zoom technology.

* * *

The 2019 Candlelight Carol Service,

our 45th, will be on Sunday, December 15, at 6 p.m.

Watch this space – and the homepage – for details, and consider joining the volunteer choir,

which begins rehearsing on Wednesday evenings (except Thanksgiving week) in late October.


44th Annual Candlelight Carol Service 2018

December 16, 6 p.m.

43rd Annual Candlelight Carol Service 2017 

December 10,  6 p.m.

                             SINGER-SONGWRITER ROSANNE CASH  
                      TO READ “A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS”

Chelsea Community Church’s 43rd Annual Candlelight Carol Service, comprising Scripture lessons, a choir and congregational singing, will take place on Sunday, December 10, at 6 p.m. at its host church, the historic St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 West 20th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).  The event is free; an offering will be accepted. Watch this space and the home page for details! Anyone wishing to participate in decorating the sanctuary for the service, providing cookies for the reception, ushering, or reading a scripture passage during the service is welcome! Contact us via our phone number or the contact form on the home page.

Rosanne Cash, popular singer-songwriter and author to read “A Visit from St Nicholas.” The service, held at historic St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 West 20th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues) comprises Scripture lessons, a choir and  congregational carol singing. The event is free; an offering will be accepted.

The choir, under the direction of Larry J. Long, will present choral music from the traditional Dutch carol “A Message Came to a Maiden Fair” to the 21st century “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” for treble choir by Mr. Long. Other music includes Boris Ord’s “Adam lay ybounden,” the early American shape-note hymn Sherburne (While shepherds watched), “Hodie Christus natus est” (Today Christ is born) by Alan Lees, and John Carter’s beautiful anthem about the three wise men, “We have seen his star in the east.” The choir will be accompanied by organist Thomas Bohlert.


The choir, under the direction of Larry J. Long (see below), presented choral music from the ancient plainsong chant “Hodie Christus natus est” (Today, Christ is born) to John Rutter’s contemporary “Shepherd’s Pipe Carol” (UK). Other music includes Stephen Paulus’ “Halelu” (US), the early 17th century British composer Thomas Weelkes’ “Magnificat,” “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” by Michael Praetorius (Germany), the opening movement of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria in excelsis” (Italy) plus Jacques Berthier’s Taizé chant “Gloria in excelsis” (France). The choir will be accompanied by internationally recognized organist Christopher Houlihan (see below), along with harp and flute/piccolo.

ROBINSON Arbender8035Finished2 ca 190 x 160Veteran Broadway singer/actor Arbender Robinsonread Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”  St. Peter’s Church stands on land that was part of Moore’s estate. Mr. Robinson has appeared on Broadway in Hairspray, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Lion King, Hair, Ragtime, The Book of Mormon, Beautiful, and Shuffle Along. He is also a teaching artist working with many organizations across the country, and is a huge advocate for autism awareness and research.


2015 Candlelight Carol Service


Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. will read “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and
music will range from the 15th to the 21st centuries

Our 41st Annual Candlelight Carol Service, with Scripture lessons, a choir and congregational singing, will take place on Sunday, December 13, at 6 p.m. at host church, the historic St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 West 20th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).  The event is free; an offering will be accepted.

The choir, again under the direction of Larry J. Long (bio and photo below), will present choral music ranging from the 15th century French carol “Saw you never, in the twilight” arranged by Robert J. Powell to Mr. Long’s own “Annunciation Carol,” premiered at the 2014 service. Other music includes J.S. Bach’s “Break forth, O beauteous, heavenly light”; Hans Leo Hassler’s “Dixit Maria”;  early American composer William Billings’ “Methinks I see an heavenly host”; Carl Schalk’s “Before the Marvel of This Night”, and a wonderfully fun arrangement of “Ding! Dong! Merrily on high” by Swedish composer Anders Öhrwall. The choir will be accompanied for the third year by internationally recognized organist Christopher Houlihan (photo and bio below) and a string quartet.

Film, stage and TV actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. will read Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”  St. Peter’s Church stands on land that was part of Moore’s estate. Mr. Whitlock has amassed a wide variety of powerful roles, from his portrayal of Senator Clay Davis on HBO’s popular series The Wire to playing a sympathetic doctor in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and his captivating portrayal of Joe in Christopher Shinn’s renowned Off-Broadway play Four, for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortelle Award as Outstanding Featured Actor.  He has had memorable guest appearances on Law and Order, along with noteworthy characters developed in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and Peter Hedges’ film Pieces of April.  (Mr. Whitlock’s photo by Leslie Hassler)

2014 – 40th Annual Service!

MalcolmRitter7592-1Clement Clark Moore himself appeared out of the dark December night on December 14th when our scheduled reader of has famous “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” actor and Chelsea neighbor Anthony Newfield was mysteriously and suddenly unavailable! The choir sang beautifully, especially the commissioned commemorative “Annunciation Carol” by choir director Larry J. Long, and 450 people shared a wonderful evening of the Christmas story, choir selections and congregational carols, organist Christopher Houlihan and a string quartet, and candles, fresh greens and bows. And Fr. Stephen Harding of St. Peter’s Chelsea, the beautiful location of  our service, joined us and offered a beautiful  benediction commemorating the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western front in the early months of World War I, by which time many had thought the war would have been over.

We have never seen so many Christmas cookies as at this year’s service, and the cider (Norma’s special recipe) and egg nog were as welcome and plentiful as ever. (Photo, left, by Malcolm Ritter)

Watch this space for pictures as we’re able to get them up! (Of course, we’ll have to obtain a waiver from Moore, and he can be elusive.)


IRT Moore and O'Reilly

For our 2012 service, we enjoyed the benefit of two readers – a first – with Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly (photo, left) of Chelsea’s Irish Repertory Theatre.

Jeanne Ruskin, whose credits range from  the original

RUSKING Jeanne rszd ca 500w

Photo by Karol DuClos

Broadway production of Equus to The Guiding Light, to Law and Order., was our reader for the 2013 service. She is founder and managing director of the not-for-profit script development, coaching and producing organization RFTC Inc., and artistic director of Red Flute Theatre Company.  Among current projects is a stage                       adaptation of Kate Chopin’s classic, “The Awakening.”

We were also very pleased to have the very talented organist Christopher Houlihan as our accompanist.  2013 CCS Accompanist Christopher Houlihan

2013 CCS Accompanist Christopher Houlihan

Christopher’s ‘press’ has included such accolades as “gifted” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Wall Street Journal), and “one of the brightest stars in the new generation of American organists” (Cincinnati Enquirer). He made his orchestral debut with the Hartford Symphony and recorded his first two CDs while still in college. For more of his impressive professional biography and activity, see his website  He is currently artist-in-residence at St. Ignatius of Antioch (Episcopal) Church in Manhattan.

The music chosen by Choir Director Long includes selections by Handel, Praetorious, Mendelssohn, Sabine Baring-Gould, and Kenneth W. Louis, a fine mix of the familiar and the new.

Click here to visit our Candlelight Carol Service Event Page on Facebook.   LONG LARRY G 2011 img_6271

Larry J. Long, Organist & Choirmaster at the Church of the Epiphany, joined us as CCS Choir Director in 2011. Each year he has chosen a broad and beautiful range of choral music for the choir, ranging from Gregorian chant/plainsong to Renaissance and Baroque to American spiritual and contemporary, and we look forward to learning his 2013 selections! We were fortunate to be accompanied by award-winning organist Stephen Tharp in 2011, and by Paul Murray in 2012.

Larry Long has served as Organist & Choirmaster at the Church of the Epiphany since February, 2009. At Epiphany, he plays the organ, conducts the adult and children’s choirs, and administers the music ministry of the parish. Active as a composer as well as an organist and conductor, he has compositions published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA Publications, St. James Music Press, and World Library Publications. He has degrees from Valparaiso University (BM) and Southern Methodist University (MM), and has also studied at the Royal School of Church Music in England and the Haarlem Summer Academy for Organists. He performs regularly in recitals, and is often the organist, choral conductor, and workshop presenter for a variety of institutions and organizations, including the Valparaiso University Institute of Liturgical Studies, American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Anglican Association of Musicians, the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA, and the Metro New York Synod of the ELCA.