FROM THE RECTOR: MAKING AN ENTRANCE
When the Right Reverend David Stancliffe, 77th bishop of Salisbury, England, from 1993 until 2010, was with us as celebrant and preacher for our patronal feast on December 8, 2005, he chided me gently about our not beginning Mass with a confession of sin. When I replied—and I wish I could remember my exact words—with a remark about us having an uncluttered entrance rite, he and I both smiled. Bishop Stancliffe had served for many years on the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England and was chairman of the Commission from 1993 until 2005. We both understood that the issues surrounding the entrance rites were not simple. As Roman Catholic Archbishop Annibale Bugnini (1912–1982) wrote about the beginning of the reformed rite in his own church, “This is one of the most debated parts of the new Order and, I may add, one of the most debatable” (The Reform of the Liturgy 1948–1975, , 375).
After the Second World War ended, changes in society and new liturgical scholarship led all of the principal denominations in Western Christianity to look at worship in a new way. Important contributions were made by scholars across denominational lines. A well-known example is the process whereby the major Western denominations ended up with essentially the same three-year Sunday lectionary. The discussions among Roman Catholics, which led them to adopt the three-year lectionary, did not happen in a vacuum. Their liturgical leaders were very aware of the work Anglican, Lutheran, and other Protestant denominations had been doing (Bugnini, 416–17).
Getting into church has a very long history. Father Smith reminded me the other day that it may be our Ash Wednesday Solemn Mass where our entrance ritual best reflects the pattern of early worship in basilicas and larger parish churches. A psalm would be sung as a presider and his assistants entered. A signal was given; the schola stopped singing. The assembly was greeted and responded. The presider said a prayer. A reader began reading.
The Church of England in its Alternative Service Book 1980 put a confession of sin at the beginning of the Eucharist. Its successor volume, Common Worship (2000), permits a penitential order to be celebrated before the collect of the day or following the prayers of the people. It was Pope Paul VI himself who insisted that every Roman Catholic Eucharist begin with the congregation making the sign of the cross and “a penitential act” (Bugnini, 369, 377–78). The Episcopal Church in its new Prayer Book saw things somewhat differently, coming down on the side of confession of sin as a response, rather than a preamble, to the Word of God. It should be noted, however, that The Prayer Book also provided “A Penitential Order,” written in both traditional and contemporary language, that provides for a confession of sin as part of the entrance rite (pp. 319–321; 351–53).
On October 1, 1933, the Reverend Granville Mercer Williams (1889–1980), rector here from 1930 until 1939, introduced the then Roman Catholic practice of having the celebrant sprinkle the congregation with water at the beginning of Solemn Mass on Sundays. The ordinary chant (Asperges me—“Wash me”) and the Eastertide chant (Vidi aquam—“I saw water”) have been in use here ever since.
The Roman Catholic Church, however, stopped using these chants in this way in 1970. For them, Asperges me is now part of an optional form of the penitential preparation at the beginning of the entrance rite. During the Easter Season, Vidi aquam can replace the penitential rite as a reminder of baptism (Roman Missal , 1453–56). None of the new Roman Catholic options are envisaged by our Prayer Book rites, but we have continued to use them most of the year. I think now is the time to simplify our entrance. That doesn’t mean we are giving up on water. There are two other uses of water that are already a part of our life because of the new Prayer Book, and they are deeply connected: Holy Baptism and the Burial of the Dead.
It was while I was in seminary at Nashotah House that I first experienced the sprinkling of the congregation with water as a baptismal party returned to the front of the church from the font. During this sprinkling, Psalm 23 with the refrain, “You anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over,” was sung. Here at Saint Mary’s the choir sings a beautiful Anglican double chant for the verses of Psalm 23, but the words and tune for the refrain, composed by Father Louis Weil, who was my liturgics professor at Nashotah, are the same. We use this same responsorial setting of Psalm 23 as the chant between the lessons at the funerals of parishioners.
At the end of a funeral Mass, when the departed person is commended to God, the congregation sings “Christ the Victorious,” a metrical setting of the appointed Prayer Book anthem. As the hymn begins, incense is prepared. The officiant walks slowly around the coffin or urn, sprinkling it with baptismal water and offering incense. At the grave we make our glad song with the water with which we were born to eternal life.
Much more could be said about this subject. There will still be water in our ritual life and it will be associated more closely in our liturgy with its principal use: dying and rising to eternal life. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Elizabeth, Vera, Amy, Dorothy, Abalda, Antony, Gerald, Penny, David, Linda, Rosa, Steve, Eric, Maureen, Barbara, Francesca, Pauline, McNeil, Takeem, Arpene, Paulette, PRIEST, and Harry, PRIEST; and for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 18: 1894 Alice Wright; 1897 Matilda Cushman Brooks; 1926 Josephine Cramer Sims; 1944 Ellen McAdams; 1947 John Henfrey Moore; 1948 Glen Albert Rodgers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial, in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Monday, January 19, The Confession of Saint Peter (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM (note that there is only one Mass on January 19) . . . Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, January 21, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Thursday, January 22, the Feast of Saint Vincent, deacon & martyr and patron of the Guild of Saint Vincent. Please keep all our acolytes in your prayers—and thank them for their faithful and able service! . . . Monday, January 26, The Conversion of Saint Paul (transferred), Mass 12:10 & 6:20 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 17, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, January 24, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we reported in last week’s newsletter, parishioner Steve Ginther’s nephew, Adam Ginther, died last week at the age of sixteen. His obituary, written by his sister, may be accessed online. He will clearly be greatly missed by those who knew him. Please keep Adam, Steve, and their family and friends in your prayers . . . A tax-receipt will be mailed before the end of January 2015 to all the members and friends of the parish who made a donation to Saint Mary’s in 2014 . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, February 15 . . . Donations to defray the costs of the receptions following the Solemn Mass on Candlemas, February 2, and the Easter Vigil, April 4, will be received with great thanks. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on retreat from the afternoon of Thursday January 15, until Sunday, January 18. He will return to the office on Tuesday, January 20 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 224.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED . . . The Super Bowl will take place on Sunday, February 1. We will hold our annual Super Bowl Party in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 6:00 PM, after Evensong that day. If you are planning to attend and are able to bring something to eat or drink, please contact or speak to Father Smith. We will also need help setting up the Hall on Sunday afternoon, before the Party begins, and cleaning up during and afterwards. Please let Father Smith know if you can help.
STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . As of Monday, January 12, we have received pledges from 161 households. $406,153.00, 96% of our $425,000.00 goal has been pledged to date. We are so very close to meeting our goal! If you haven’t yet made a pledge for 2015, we hope that you will do so very soon. If you have questions about pledging, please contact the finance office. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please help us to continue our mission and ministry in Times Square. Thank you so much to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so faithfully and so generously.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935), known largely for his instrumental music, has fully distinguished himself as a choral composer. Since 1976, he has employed a compositional technique he calls tintinnabuli (from the Latin: “little bells”), where the composer uses bell-like resonances in triads, underscoring a melodic voice revolving around a central key. The method takes on an almost religious connotation as used in the Berliner Messe, which we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. The work was the result of a commission for the ninetieth Katholikentag in 1990. Originally written for four solo voices and organ, the work was revised by Pärt in 1992, scoring it for chorus with string orchestra. The Mass may sound to some like Gregorian chant, but it differs from the historic model in the hands of this master of the minimalist style. This is clearly music for the church and is decidedly more Roman Catholic than the music of John Tavener (b. 1944), with its Eastern Orthodox leanings. The setting is of the traditional Latin text and is sung on Sunday as originally scored for four voices. At the ministration of Holy Communion, our quartet of singers will present a choice motet by English composer, Edward Bairstow (1874–1946), Jesu, the very thought of thee. One of a set entitled Four Short Motets, this is one of the only anthems written by this gifted Edwardian composer . . . Joseph Russell, a second-year student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and organ scholar at Saint Paul’s Church, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, will play the recital on Sunday afternoon, January 18, at 4:40 PM. His program will include music by Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986) and Charles-Marie Widor (1844–1937). —Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will continue on Wednesday, January 21. The class is reading the Book of the Prophet Isaiah this year. On Wednesday, we will begin reading at chapter 15 . . . The Sunday-morning, adult-education class will resume on January 25. Parishioner Mary Robison will teach a two-part series (January 25 and February 1) on Women's Ministries in the Episcopal Church. The first class, on January 25, will focus on the work and ministry of deaconesses. ("Following the example of German Lutherans in the early nineteenth century, and later of English Anglicans, during 1885–1970 almost five hundred Episcopal women were ‘set apart’ as deaconesses to care for ‘the sick, the afflicted, and the poor.’ The 1889 General Convention passed a canon on deaconesses that recognized their ministry. This canon reflected the influence of Mary Abbot Emery and William Reed Huntington.") See the website of the Episcopal Church for more information—and come to Mary's class! Mary is an archivist and librarian at the General Theological Seminary. Here at the parish she serves in a number of ways. Among other things, she serves as an usher, a reader, and as the secretary of the Board of Trustees . . . On February 8 and 15, Father Jay Smith will lead the Sunday-morning adult-education class in a discussion of the Essential Elements of the Christian Life, using Archbishop Rowan Williams’s book Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer as a source for the discussion. This class would be useful for those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception . . . On the Sundays in Lent (February 22 and March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29) Father Pete Powell will continue his series on The Gospel of John . . . 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. —Jay Smith
OUTREACH . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our friends and partners at the Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Cash donations are also most welcome . . . Helping our Homeless Neighbors: We also welcome donations of new white socks; new, unopened packs of underwear; toiletries; gloves; stocking caps; trail mix and granola bars for distribution to the homeless in our building and neighborhood.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, January 26, The Conversion of Saint Paul (transferred): Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, February 1, 6:00–9:30 PM, Super Bowl Party . . . Monday, February 2, The Presentation of Our Lord: Blessing of Candles & Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . February 18, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Wednesday, February 25, Saint Matthias: Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . 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, suffragan bishop of New York.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH. . . At the Metropolitan Museum, 1000 Fifth Avenue (between Eighty-seventh & Eighty-eighth Streets), until March 8, 2015, in Gallery 304, The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art. “This exhibition features masterfully illuminated pages from two volumes of the magnificent, lavishly ornamented Winchester Bible. Probably commissioned around 1150 by the wealthy and powerful Henry of Blois (about 1098–1171), who was the bishop of Winchester (and grandson of William the Conqueror and King Stephen’s brother), the manuscript is the Winchester Cathedral’s single greatest surviving treasure. Renovations at the Cathedral provide the opportunity for these pages, which feature the Old Testament, to travel to New York. This presentation marks the first time the work will be shown in the United States. At the Metropolitan Museum, the pages of one bound volume will be turned once each month; three unbound bi-folios with lavish initials from the other volume—which is currently undergoing conservation—will be on view simultaneously for the duration of the exhibition.