Every so often, we find something in the archives at just the right time. This tape, part of our collection of New York City field recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, consists of 30 minutes of audio from a Christmas Day sermon at the Bowery Mission on the Lower East Side.
Unfortunately, the recording quality is poor and the sermon is barely audible, but when the audience of mostly homeless elderly men is asked to stand and sing, there emerges a sudden clarity and an undeniable emotional weight. Listen to excerpts of "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." Thanks to Sarah Davis for the tape transfer.