FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT MEANINGS
Liturgical color, along with flowers and other outward and visible signs, began to return to worship in the Anglican Communion in the wake of the Oxford Movement. Color has become a visual guide to the calendar of the church year for most Christians. As these signs returned, the question of color arose. No one particular color scheme has ever been prescribed. History presents a wide variety of practices. That said, for the most part Anglicans have generally come to use the color schemes most other Christian denominations use.
Our use of rose-colored vestments on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday in Lent is tied to our use of the traditional Latin chants for our Solemn Masses. It also reflects the complex history of the Advent Season (and also Lent, which has a “rose Sunday”). You will find the following translation of Sunday’s entrance chant in the bulletin, words from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6)
These words are known to Christians in word and song. The next verse was very familiar to Episcopalians who grew up with the old Prayer Book: And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). This is how the service of Holy Communion ended in all earlier American Prayer Books:
Then, the People kneeling, the Priest (the Bishop if he be present) shall let them depart with this Blessing.
The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer  84)
(I think it’s worth noting that I never experienced a service in the days of the old Prayer Book where this rubric about blessing and departing was followed—when there was music. People knelt; a blessing was given. Then, there was music. First, a final hymn. At the parish where I first worked after seminary, this hymn would be followed by what was in effect the real dismissal, another verse from Paul, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Then there was a postlude—most would begin to leave.)
Joy can get lost so easily in life, especially in popular culture of our time, perhaps of every time. The Apostle Paul’s joy, more than a few times, was hidden under the burdens of mission and life. But the joy that Paul and his contemporaries shared in Christ was a very powerful one, and it was rooted in the supper of the Lord, a fellowship meal, where all were fed real food and where the bread and the wine took on new meaning. Let me be clearer: the bread and wine had new meaning because all were fed real food to feed the hunger of their mortal bodies. They rejoiced in God’s gift of his Son, but also in the gifts of life and food. Advent Masses have many meanings. I invite you to come and see what the Lord will reveal to you in prayer. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dorothy, Penny, David, Rosa, Barbara, Joan, John, Francesca, Pat, Peggy, Mazdak, Willy, Pauline, McNeil, Takeem, Rick, Linda, Arpene, Anthony, Vanessa, Elizabeth, Robert, Paulette, priest, Harry, priest, and Edgar, priest; and for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 14: 1893 James Campbell; 1901 William Peper; 1903 Susannah H. Willis; 1905 Charles S. Champlain; 1922 William W. Ward; 1931 Florence Williams; 1943 Charlotte Harriett Drummand Wegmann; 1997 Edward David Miller.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
CONGRALATIONS, FATHER SMITH . . . James Ross Smith was ordained priest at the cathedral on December 9, 1989. On the Third Sunday of Advent 1989, he was celebrant for Solemn Mass for the first time at Christ Church, New Haven. He will be celebrant and preacher for Solemn Mass this Sunday, December 14, at 11:00 AM. There will be a reception following the Mass in his honor. I hope you can be there to join in the fellowship. —S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the feast of the Conception such a great success . . . We are grateful to Father John Beddingfield who led the Quiet Day last Saturday. The response was quite enthusiastic and, as always, it was very good to have Father back at Saint Mary’s . . . Flowers are needed for Sundays in January. We also hope to receive donations to defray the costs of the reception following the Solemn Mass on Epiphany, January 6. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 243; Conception of Mary 195.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tuesday, December 16, O Antiphons begin. These antiphons precede and follow the recitation of the Magnificat at Evening Prayer on the days before Christmas . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on December 17, 24, 31, or January 7. . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, December 13, and on Saturday, December 20, by Father Stephen Gerth.
FROM THE STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE . . . Some years ago, not long after I started to come back to church again and began exploring the Episcopal Church, I read a pamphlet about pledging and how much one should pledge to one’s parish. The author of the pamphlet said that a lot of people feel that you should “give until it hurts.” He disagreed. He believed that you should give until it makes you happy. He also said he’d never met a generous person who wasn’t happy. That made a big impression on me. When I joined Saint Mary’s in 2004, I started to pledge, and I’ve become involved in the parish in a lot of different ways—and I’ve never been happier. I invite you to join me and the many other members and friends of Saint Mary’s who make an annual pledge and who offer their time and talent as well. We still have a ways to go in our annual pledge campaign and every pledge counts! Please let me, Steven Heffner, Marie Rosseels, or a member of the clergy know if you have questions about pledging, about ways to get involved, or if you still need a pledge card. —MaryJane Boland
VISIT THE GIFT SHOP . . . Be sure to visit the Saint Mary’s gift shop over the holidays. We will be providing a gift-wrapping service on Sundays after the 11:00 AM service for a donation of $5 for each gift wrapped. A selection of paper and ribbon will be provided—while supplies last! Gift items are for sale include t-shirts, coffee mugs, CDs, rosaries, art work, and books. We also have post cards, Christmas cards, and cards for many occasions. We look forward to seeing you. —Dexter Baksh
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656–1746) was a Bohemian (German) Baroque composer and Kapellmeister. He was considered one of the best composers for the keyboard of his day. However, since few copies of his music survive, his work is not well known. Fischer was born in Schönfeld, a small town at the foot of the Erzgebirge Mountains, and it is assumed that he received his first lessons in composition there; the local monastery archive contains an early work of his. Later studies in Dresden and Paris gave Fischer a broad exposure to various stylistic schools and the work of many leading musicians, including the famed Jean Baptiste Lully (1632–1687), whose influence can be seen in Fischer’s works. The profound polyphony and refined counterpoint of his compositions brought him a certain success, particularly with the organ cycle, Ariadne Musica, which features preludes and fugues in a variety of keys. We will hear one of these works, a Prelude in D, as the prelude to the Solemn Mass on Sunday. This work was published in 1702, twenty years ahead of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Part I (BWV 846–869). Bach held Fischer’s work in high regard and took some of his thematic inspiration from the older composer’s cycle. The setting of the chorale, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, that we hear as the postlude on Sunday, comes from an earlier period but is based on the same chorale that figures so prominently in Sunday’s Mass setting, the Missa super “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.” At the ministration of Communion, we will hear a quintessential Advent work by Orlando Lassus (1532–1594) that is based on Isaiah 35:4, Be comforted. . . . At 4:40 PM on Sunday afternoon, Jennifer Pascual, director of music, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, will play the organ recital. Her program includes works by Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Jean Langlais (1907–1991), and César Franck (1822–1890). —Mark Peterson
OUTREACH . . . New York Cares Coat Drive: The cold weather has clearly arrived in New York. The annual coat drive continues until the end of December. For more information about how and where to donate, please visit the New York Cares website . . . We continue to collect nonperishable items for our friends and partners at the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Cash donations are also most welcome . . . The spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia and in other parts of West Africa has been rapid in recent months, and, according to recent news reports, the numbers of those affected continues to mount. We have received requests from Liberian clergy working in our diocese to publicize ways that New York Episcopalians can help. You may visit the website of the Liberian Episcopal Community USA (LECUSA) to obtain more information.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Sunday, December 14, 10:00 AM, Adult Education Class: The Veneration of the Saints: Parishioners discuss the veneration of the saints in their own lives, with a particular focus on saints who were women, as a way of beginning our study of the role of women in early and medieval Christianity. On December 14, Marie Rosseels will discuss Saint Helena (c. 250–330) and Grace Bruni will give a presentation on such medieval women as Saint Olga of Kiev (890–969), Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), and the French nun, writer, scholar, and abbess, Héloïse d’Argenteuil (1090/1100–1164). The adult-education class will not meet on December 21, 28, or January 4 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on December 17, 24, 31, or January 7. —Jay Smith
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, December 13, 8:00 PM, The Tallis Scholars: Sacred Muses, music by William Byrd, Edmund Turges, and Josquin des Prez. This concert is part of the Miller Theater at Columbia University’s Early Music Series. Tickets may be purchased online.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, December 22, Saint Thomas the Apostle (transferred): Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, December 24, Christmas Eve: Music 4:30 PM; Sung Mass 5:00 PM and Music 10:30 PM; Procession & Solemn Mass 11:00 PM . . . Thursday, December 25, Christmas Day: Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, December 28, First Sunday after Christmas Day, Lessons & Carols at 5:00 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 1:15 PM, New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, South Court Auditorium, A Lecture by T. Felder Dorn, Battle of the Bishops: A Slavery Controversy in Pennsylvania in 1863. Dr. Dorn will examine the responses of American Episcopal bishops in the period 1840–1875 to slavery and to the tumultuous events and issues that derived from that institution. The words and actions of Northern as well as Southern bishops will be discussed. The lecture will focus in a particular way on an affair that occurred in the diocese of Pennsylvania during the middle of the Civil War, when Bishop John Henry Hopkins, bishop of Vermont, wrote a pamphlet defending slavery and distributed the pamphlet in the Pennsylvania, an action that outraged the bishop of Pennsylvania, Alonzo Potter, who opposed slavery and who was offended by Hopkins’s interference in his diocese.