Attend A Gospel Mass In Harlem
Having had the chance to attend a gospel mass in the Harlem neighborhood is truly one of the experiences that marked me during my stay in New York . Whether you are a believer or not, it is an experience that and I will give you in this article some tips to help you find the best place to attend a gospel mass in New York.
Where To Attend A Gospel Mass In New York?
In some areas of the city, there are a large number of small churches where you can attend mass and listen to gospel . Before choosing a church, it should always be kept in mind that it is above all a religious ceremony . Even if the atmosphere can quickly become very lively, these ceremonies are not shows where you can enter and leave freely.
You will be able to find very beautiful churches to listen to gospel in all the districts of New York , but I really advise you to go to Harlem , which is the cradle of African-American culture and which undoubtedly remains the emblematic place to listen this kind of music.
You will also be able to find very large churches, which appear in all the guides and are accustomed to receiving tourists during each mass. But they do not represent, in my opinion, the best way to attend an authentic gospel mass.
There are also guided tours of Harlem with gospel mass . These visits generally break down into two stages. The first part is devoted to the discovery of Harlem, the multi-cultural district of New York . Then, you will attend a gospel mass in one of the neighborhood churches. It takes about half a day for the guided tour.
The visit will allow you to have a global view and learn more about the history of the neighborhoods and the gospel . The little extra is that the visit can be done in French. For this half-day rich in discoveries, count 71 € per person.
Gospel Mass Experience In Harlem
On my way to one of the largest churches in Harlem , the First Corinthian Baptist Church , I was able to attend a very beautiful sound and light show, comfortably installed on the balcony in the middle of the tourists, while only the faithful were on the ground floor. The musicians were excellent, the sound perfect, but this experience, although very pleasant, was still quite far from what I expected.
Other, sometimes less well-known churches will often be much better places if you really want to have a memorable experience. In the Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church , I had the chance to attend an unforgettable gospel mass . Arrived quite early, I was able to sit among the faithful while the church was still far from full. Gradually, the regulars arrived, and a particularly friendly atmosphere was formed.
When the pastor took his place and the choir began to raise their voices, people quickly stood up and began to sing loudly to express their faith. With the joy and fervor contained in these songs, the atmosphere quickly became extremely warm, and I truly had the feeling of living a very privileged moment in this church.
Tips For Attending A Gospel Mass In Harlem
- Avoid churches that are too big: it is in smaller churches that you can really attend an authentic gospel mass.
- Avoid group visits : always try to be 2 or 3 at the most, to better integrate you among the faithful.
- Attend a mass as soon as possible . On Sunday mornings , Mass times vary and some churches hold multiple services. By attending the first office, you will avoid mingling with more tourists.
- Arrive early , so as not to be one of the last to enter the church.
- Don’t take pictures , do n’t make videos, and put your phone on airplane mode . Once again, the masses are not performances, so try to share this experience with the faithful instead.
- As much as possible, plan to stay until after Mass . If your schedule does not allow it, sit in the back of the church , near the door, and try to warn the pastor or a regular that you will have to leave the church during the service.
- Many faithful dress very carefully to attend mass: do not hesitate to do the same.
Have you booked your activities in New York?
Attending a gospel mass in New York is one of the top activities, but I strongly advise you to take part in other activities during your stay in the Big Apple . For example, don’t miss the unmissable buildings such as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty . Anyway, to maximize your chances of accessing all the activities you want, I strongly advise you to book your activities in advance. For the most forward-looking, you can also book a New York pass to take advantage of the greatest number of city attractions.
In Which Church To Attend A Gospel Mass In New York?
Above all, if the evocation of Harlem made you wince, you should know that this district of New York has changed a lot in recent years. If Harlem was for a long time a real ghetto where crime was omnipresent, this is absolutely no longer the case since the first half of the 2000s. Today, you can walk without the slightest problem in the streets of Harlem and discover a lively and very pleasant neighborhood
If you want the most authentic experience possible, you just have to go to one of the many small churches in the neighborhood. You can attend a gospel mass in Harlem in the company of the faithful, who will be delighted to welcome you, as long as you respect the basic rules of politeness. During mass, to soak up the atmosphere even more, do not hesitate to clap your hands and sing along.
However, if you don’t want to go alone and prefer to have a guide with you to teach you the secrets of Harlem and the Gospel, it’s entirely possible if you take the guided tour .
The Abyssinian Baptist Church
If I tell you about this church, which is probably the most famous of the Baptist churches in New York , it is in fact to advise you against it. This religious building, which is very touristy or even too touristy , could be perfect for a visit, but if you are looking to attend an authentic gospel mass , this is certainly not the place to be.
On Sundays , the 9 a.m. office is reserved for the faithful , and tourists therefore flock to the 11 a.m. office . To attend, plan at least an hour in line. The best thing to do to enjoy a slightly more authentic mass in this church will probably be to go there on Wednesdays , for the 7 p.m. service , which seems much less crowded.
The Salem United Methodist Church
This relatively untouristy little Methodist church is certainly not the most beautiful in New York , but you can attend a service there every Sunday at 11 a.m. , to enjoy a moment of sharing and music in a very friendly atmosphere. To see the church website, you canfollow this link .
The Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church
I already told you earlier about this charming little church, which will allow you to attend a typical gospel mass. In this church in Harlem, which is far from being one of the most touristic places, 3 offices are celebrated every Sunday : at 8am , 11am and 5pm . Don’t hesitate to arrive early, because you can listen to the songs of the choir preparing for mass.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle
To see a gospel mass in Harlem, you can go to the Brooklyn Tabernacle . In this evangelical church with the appearance of a theatre, you will be very well received. The choir is made up of more than 200 singers , and you can enjoy an incredible atmosphere and admire the great fervor of the faithful. Masses are held on Sundays at 9 a.m..
The Canaan Baptist Church Of Christ
This church is another of the places where you can attend a gospel mass in Harlem in a traditional setting. Services (every Sunday at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.) last 2 hours , and give pride of place to songs. The place is touristy and you will probably be placed on a balcony, but from the decor to the costumes of the singers and singers, everything in this church exudes authenticity , and you will be able to live a memorable moment there.
Where Does The Gospel Tradition Come From?
The term gospel originates from the expression goodspell , which meant gospel . If the songs of this musical culture of Afro-American origin are so emotionally strong, it is because they come from three centuries of slavery.
For the black slaves who arrived in North America and worked in the cotton fields, singing was already part of their culture. Their condition has forced them to adapt, and new songs have emerged, to enable them to communicate. Gradually, they discovered the Christian religion , and in the Bible, the story of the Hebrews held in Egypt and forced to work reminded them very much of their lives as slaves.
Without forgetting their original culture and traditions, African-American slaves , who had obtained the right to attend Protestant masses , gradually began to improvise prayer songs, which at the time were known as the name of Negro Spiritual . After the abolition of slavery in 1865 , real choirs were formed. This musical tradition has subsequently largely evolved, mixing with Blues and Jazz and addressing very strong social themes such as segregation and poverty, to give birth to Gospel .
Moving both in its sounds and in its lyrics, this musical style quickly became very popular. In the 20th century, it became very widely used by pastors, who based their words in particular on the New Testament. From 1960 , the gospel had already truly found its identity, and in the churches the songs claimed faith in God and the hope that one day all inequalities could disappear.