Hark, the heckled Pastor sings

 

Washington

On crowded morning Metro trains, Fisher Yang, 50, of Centreville, Virginia, tends to get his share of jeers, eye rolls and smiles.

Yang, who is the pastor of a church in Virginia's Shenandoah County, sings Christmas carols two days a week during the morning rush hour on Metro's five subway lines. Starting at Vienna, he makes his way along the Orange Line toward downtown and then switches onto Metro's other train lines, singing all the way.

Wearing black corduroy pants, a red-and-blue plaid flannel shirt buttoned up to the neck and a cross with the pattern of the American flag pinned on the lapel of his sport coat, Yang stepped onto a train Monday morning, his chest puffed up in anticipation, and made his announcement.

"Good morning. Excuse me. Can I have your attention, please?" he asked riders. He cleared his throat and belted out in a bass voice all the verses of "The First Noel," No. 123 in his English-Korean hymnal.

At each station, he sprinted to a different rail car and started his routine again. He goes so quickly between rail cars, sometimes he loses track of which direction he's going on the system, he said.

On a crowded Orange Line train leaving Rosslyn, a few riders looked up from books or the floor, rolled their eyes and then looked away.

"It's annoying. ... I just woke up. I don't want to hear this," muttered one rider as she read a novel. She declined to give her name.

A few sleeping passengers opened their eyes and then fell back into a slumber. Some riders smiled. Others pushed their headphones farther into their ears as Yang sang. One man pulled his copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" over his eyes as if that would somehow block out Yang's voice.

"It's a little bit strange, but that's part of riding Metro," Diane Brown said as she rode to the Federal Center SW station.

On the Red Line, rider Helen Armstrong sang along under her breath.

"I like it," said Armstrong, who is from Coventry, Conn., and was attending a nonprofit group's board meeting in Dupont Circle. "But it would get old if I lived here."

Metro's chief spokesman, Dan Stessel, said Yang is not violating any policy. In 2010, flash mobs sang Christmas carols on some Metro trains.

"If you're standing on a train and you happen to be singing instead of talking, it's not something we're going to regulate," Stessel said.

Singing carols on Metro has been Yang's routine from Thanksgiving through the Christmas holidays since 1998. When he's not singing on trains, he is preaching from spring until Thanksgiving outside Union Station. And every Friday in warmer weather he preaches in front of the White House. Come January and February, Yang gives his voice a rest.

Yang, who is pastor of the Puritan Church in Strasburg, Va., said he has seen a variety of reactions from riders over the years. He's gone through five hymnals because riders have walked by and ripped the pages out.

He is undeterred.

"God wants me to sing in front of Him," Yang said. "It doesn't matter what other people think."

Yang said he became a Christian when he was a young boy in South Korea after "volunteers from the Salvation Army evangelized to him." He said he's partial to "The First Noel" because it "spreads the Christmas message."

Just as he finished the chorus, a woman got up from her seat, clapped and gave him $1. He has received money before — although he said he doesn't solicit it.

"I love to tell the story because I know it is true," he told her. "Thank you. And Merry Christmas."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick