FROM THE RECTOR: LOOKING AHEAD
Lent is underway at Saint Mary’s. Ash Wednesday was a very cold day in the city, but still there were people waiting for the first Mass and for ashes when the doors opened at 7:00 AM. The last person receiving ashes got them in Saint Joseph’s Hall just after 8:00 PM. I was on ash duty again at the very end of the day—and was able to give ashes to a very grateful man who had slipped in as the last set of doors was closing. It was a good beginning for Lent. There’s more to come, and I would like to tell you about it.
The Feast of the Annunciation falls on Wednesday, March 25, this year, between the Fifth (and last) Sunday in Lent and the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, on March 29. The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Annunciation at 6:00 PM. It will be great to have him and his wife Clara Mun back with us.
The bishop of Chicago who sent Allen to seminary will be with us for the main liturgy on Palm Sunday. I’m speaking, of course, of the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, who served as presiding bishop of the church from 1998 until 2006. Bishop Griswold has been with us many times during Holy Week and at other times as well. But this year will be the first time he will be with us for the principal service on Palm Sunday: Liturgy of the Palms, Procession through Times Square & Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.
This service, more than any other service during the year, is shaped by our setting: we are truly an urban liturgical community. It begins with the Liturgy of the Palms, solemnly and simply celebrated in the chancel of the church. Handfuls of palms are given to everyone before the congregation leaves the church while singing, “All glory, laud and honor.” As we process through the Square, palms are distributed to all who want them—and many do.
When we return to the church, the congregation enters and sings “Ride on! ride on in majesty!” to the powerful and haunting tune The King’s Majesty by Graham George (1912–1993). Then, the organ falls silent. The Mass of the Passion begins. The organ will not be played again until the Great Vigil of Easter.
The Very Reverend Andrew B. McGowan, dean, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, will be with us on Maundy Thursday as preacher for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 6:00 PM. Bishop Shin will be back with us that night as celebrant. Dean McGowan is a liturgical scholar and a priest of the Anglican Church of Australia. At the moment I’m reading his most recent book, Ancient Christian Worship . I’m so glad he and Bishop Shin will be with us that night.
Finally, our Music Search Committee has been working very hard to find the next organist and music director of our parish. Sixty-eight applications were received. That was very gratifying, but it was really hard to sort through so many applications submitted by so many really fine musicians. I think any member of the committee—Grace Bruni; Jim Dennis; Robin Landis; Mark Risinger, chair; and Geoff Williams—will tell you that it was extraordinarily painful to cut the list from six to four. Last weekend, three outstanding candidates came to Saint Mary’s for interviews and auditions.
When we began the process, I said to the committee that I wanted us to take the same kind of care with this position, to the extent appropriate, as a parish vestry or board would take to select a new rector. We have not rushed the process. At this point, all I can say is any one of the three could be a great new musician for us, and I hope one of them will be.
That said, I want you to know how much our Interim Organist & Music Director (and parishioner!) Mark Peterson has done to rebuild our music program in the short time he has been with us on the church staff. I am very grateful to Mark for all that he has done for the choir, the parish staff and the entire parish community. His work in many areas is one reason, I am sure, that we had so many good applications. We will have time to celebrate his special place in Saint Mary’s music history before the new musician comes aboard—I hope sometime in June.
I wish you, your families, and friends a holy and fruitful Lent. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Gerald, who is gravely ill; and Penny, David, Dee, John, Sean, Emily, Ben, Charlie, Vera, Abalda, Linda, Eric, Barbara, McNeil, Takeem, Arpene, Paulette, priest, Patrick, priest, and Harry, priest; for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the souls of Margaret Powers and Keith Johnson, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 1: 1888 Francis Burr James; 1909 John Netterfield; 1913 Robert H. Currie; 1923 Henri Bigelow Beach LaFerre, priest; 1927 Julia Watt Lawrence, Mary Dral Werner, and Mary Lynch; 1933 Amelia Jane Hammond Todd.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Reverend Keith Johnson, rector of the Church of Saint Philip in Harlem, died suddenly on Tuesday, February 24. He is survived by his wife Virginia O’Harp and Virginia’s two children, Edward and Sarah. Father Johnson’s death is mourned by the members of the Saint Philip’s community and by Episcopalians throughout the diocese. Father Patrick Williams, a great friend of Saint Mary’s, serves as curate at Saint Philip’s. He will now, no doubt, be taking on additional responsibilities at the parish. Please keep Father Johnson, his family and friends, the Saint Philip’s community, Father Williams, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. The Fridays of Lent are also observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats. Abstinence is not observed on Sundays in Lent (or on the Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, or the Annunciation, March 25).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, February 27, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM & Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Sunday, March 1, 10:00 AM, Adult Forum: Father Peter Powell continues his class on the Gospel of John . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 4, while Father Smith is away . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 28, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, March 7, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Gerald McKelvey has been in Mount Sinai hospital for many weeks now, following surgery at the end of 2014. His condition has declined in recent days. He is gravely ill. Please keep him and his wife, Maria-Liisa in your prayers . . . Flowers are needed for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 15, and for the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . The Flower Guild is beginning to make plans for Holy Week and Easter. If you would like to volunteer to help decorate the church for Easter, please speak to Marie Rosseels or Chris LaCass . . . Father Jay Smith will be away on vacation from Monday, March 2, until Sunday, March 8. He returns to the office on Monday, March 9 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 192.
LAST SATURDAY: PARISH POTLUCK SUPPER . . . Last Saturday, many members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered in Saint Joseph’s Hall for a potluck supper. We invited our friends who spend part of the day resting in the church, some of whom are homeless, to join us for dinner. The entire evening was a great success. Food was plentiful, delicious, and even nutritious! Saint Joseph’s Hall looked warm and inviting. The art work of Seth Wandersman and Catjia Rehkamp was still hanging in the gallery—and the artists joined us for supper. Members of the Flower Guild raided their stores of artificial flowers and created lovely centerpieces for the tables. Many volunteers arrived early to set up tables and prepare food, and many volunteers stayed and cleaned up, leaving the parish kitchen clean and ready for the next day. A last-minute inspiration on the part of two of our choristers allowed us to have live music during supper. Special thanks are due to Chris LaCass and Brenda Morgan for conceiving and organizing the event; to Mark Risinger, John Pickle, and Suzanne Woods for providing musical entertainment; to Mark Peterson for giving us permission to use the piano; to Dexter Baksh for the centerpieces; to sexton Stefano Esposito for providing support; to all those who brought food, volunteered their time, made cash donations, and gave this effort their enthusiastic support; and thank you to our guests for joining us, and for sharing their stories—and their hot sauce!—with us. (More acknowledgments to come when the dust has settled!) —Jay Smith
CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The new Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series in Saint Joseph’s Hall has been a great success this year. We’ve discovered the acoustical qualities of the room. We’ve been able to use our beautiful new piano; and we’ve been able to hear a wide range of music, both vocal and instrumental, serious and light-hearted, old and new, and all in an intimate setting before enthusiastic audiences. Please join us on Monday, March 16, at 7:30 PM, for the next offering in the series: Music for Two: Robin Frye & Robert Motsby, with Douglas Drake at the piano, in a program of music by Schumann, Finzi, Montsalvatge, and selections from the musical Carousel. A donation at the door to support our music program is encouraged. For more information, please contact Mark Peterson.
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . A group of photography students and their instructors from New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey, worked in the church for much of the day on Friday, February 27. They took photos of the interior of the building and the church’s artwork. The group was led by Dennis Raverty, a great friend of Saint Mary’s, and his colleague Edward Burns, who have taken photographs here in the past. The day was designed to be a learning opportunity for the students, but it was also a great gift to Saint Mary’s. We will now have high-quality photographs of the parish’s artistic treasures for use on the website, for publicity, for the archives, and for artistic display. We are very grateful to Dennis, Eddie, and their colleagues and students for the generous gift of their time and talent.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Sunday, March 1, Second Sunday in Lent: Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) was born in Naples, the son of the famed Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico’s musical gifts developed at an almost prodigious rate, and at age sixteen he became a musician at the chapel royal. He studied with some of the musical greats of his day, but it was his association with Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713) that is thought to have contributed most to the evolution of his adolescent genius. He served for five years (1714–19) as maestro di cappella at the Cappella Giulia at the Vatican. He composed an oratorio as early as 1709, and more than a dozen operas for his father’s Neapolitan theater. Attracted to new and unfamiliar challenges, Scarlatti abandoned his post at Saint Peter’s Basilica and traveled, in turn, to London, then Lisbon, then Madrid, finally returning to Naples in 1725 after his father’s death. Known as an eminent harpsichordist, Scarlatti focused his energies as a composer, for the most part, on that instrument. He wrote some 555 keyboard works; however, he only occasionally wrote for the church. His most familiar Mass setting, the Messa di Madrid, is the setting we will hear at Solemn Mass on Sunday morning. Scarlatti is known to have written a Missa brevis for the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. He also wrote a well-regarded Stabat mater, along with three shorter works, Cibavit nos Dominus, a brief motet for Corpus Christi, and a Te Deum. At the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday, we will hear the motet, Deliver us, O Lord our God, by Englishman Adrian Batten (1591–1637) . . . On Sunday afternoon at 5:00 PM, Solemn Evensong, Litany & Eucharistic Benediction. No sermon is preached at Evensong during Lent, and there are no organ recitals preceding the service. At Benediction, Tantum ergo is sung to the tune Pange lingua. —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class: the class met on February 25, continuing its reading of the “oracles against the nations” in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Our reading inspired a very interesting discussion about nationalism, violence, including religious violence, in our own time, and about the difficulties of discerning and doing God’s will in a complex world. The class will not meet on March 4, when Father Smith will be out of town. Class resumes on March 11, and we will begin our reading at Isaiah 23 . . . On the remaining Sundays in Lent (March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29) Father Pete Powell will continue his series on The Gospel of John. Part of the discussion in the class will focus on discipleship and the ways in which the Gospel of John helps one to understand the life of the disciple . . . During Eastertide (April 19, 26, and May 3), Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be leading the class, once again, in a discussion of the links between theology and the arts: “And the angel said, ‘Be not afraid’ ”: God’s Ministering Messengers, From Scripture through the Arts and Literature. All the Sunday-morning adult-education classes begin at 10:00 AM and are held in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. —J.R.S.
MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY . . . As the rector mentions in his article this week, on March 25, Bishop Allen Shin will be with us for the Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Annunciation. We hope that we will be able to hold a festive reception after the Solemn Mass that evening, but we need help to defray the costs of the reception and to bolster our hospitality budget. If you would like to make a donation to help with the costs of the reception, or to assist with hospitality during the coming year, please contact the parish office. Please be aware that it is not necessary to pay the entire cost of any single reception or Coffee Hour. The cost of a feast-day reception is about $600.00. (There are usually 8 such receptions per year.) The costs of hospitality on Sunday mornings and afternoons are between $75.00 and $100.00. If a number of friends and members of the parish were willing to commit themselves to a regular donation to support this ministry, it would be enormously helpful. No donation is too small!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins . . . Thursday, March 19, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 & 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, March 25, The Annunciation, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan of New York.
LOOKING FOR SUPPORT IN YOUR JOB SEARCH? . . . CareerSearchers is a resource and support group for people who are looking for a new job, starting as a contractor or freelancer or changing careers. Coordinators and volunteer speakers provide answers to questions concerning the job search. CareerSearchers meets every Tuesday at 7:00 PM in the Parish House of Saint Michael’s Church, 225 West 99th Street. Visit the parish website for more information.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral, February 20–June 14, 2015, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello. “Twenty-three masterpieces of early Florentine Renaissance sculpture—most never seen outside Italy—will be exhibited at MOBIA as the centerpiece of the Museum’s tenth anniversary season. MOBIA will be the sole world-wide venue for this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. These works—by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Nanni di Banco, Luca della Robbia and others—were made in the first decades of the fifteenth century for Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo), which was then in the last phase of its construction, and are figural complements to Brunelleschi’s soaring dome, conveying an analogous sense of courage and human potential. Like the dome, these statues of prophets and saints express the spiritual tension of a faith-driven humanism destined to transform Western culture.” The American Bible Society has sold the building where MOBIA is located, and the museum will be closing at the end of June, at least temporarily. The Museum has not yet announced when or where it might reopen. A review of the show recently appeared in the New York Times.