FROM THE RECTOR: CANDLEMAS 2016
On Monday, February 1, God willing, I will begin my eighteenth year of service as rector of Saint Mary’s. (Yes, the eighteenth. I became rector on February 1, 1999.) Because it is the Eve of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, commonly called, “Candlemas,” Solemn Evensong will be offered at 6:00 PM. This service speaks to me about the character of the parish as much as the services that will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 2.
In the late afternoon on Monday, a quartet from our parish choir will arrive to rehearse the canticles and a short motet. By 5:30 PM the flowers for the feast will be on the high altar and at the shrines. The high altar office lights (“the big six”) will be lit. The Marian frontal will be on the altar. Servers and clergy will be making their way to the gathering in the sacristy. A congregation will be gathering.
If all goes well, at 6:00 PM the Angelus will be prayed. The choir our organist will already be in the places in the chancel. Then, the procession of servers and clergy will enter. Evensong will begin. Evening Prayer usually takes 25 minutes, Solemn Evensong forty. The people who come for the service will enter a rich form of the regular daily worship of the church, one appropriate in our tradition for the eve of a Feast of Our Lord.
Those who regularly walk through the church at this hour—to get from one street to the other—will see and hear the church praying differently today. The homeless who have sought shelter here will hear and see something special too. There will be visitors—surprised by what they have found—who will stay for all or part of the service. The doors will be open. The church, that is, the congregation, will be at prayer. I believe God uses the witness of common prayer to advance his kingdom. God doesn’t need our prayer, but our prayer responds to our need as God’s children to be in relationship with God and with each other.
We are a parish of the Episcopal Church. Our worship is ordered by the Book of Common Prayer. Since its founding this parish has had a commitment to the public praying of the Daily Office and a daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Were the people and clergy who were here for the first celebration of Candlemas at Saint Mary’s in 1871 at the first church on West 45th Street or here the first celebration in our present church home in 1896, I think they would be happy to join with us in worship today.
Bishop Allen Shin was assistant priest at Saint Mary’s when I arrived on Wednesday, November 18, 1998, to meet the board of trustees as a candidate to become the rector. He and Father William Parker, who was curate and priest-in-charge, invited me for coffee. Bishop Shin will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Tuesday night. It’s really wonderful that Allen is one of our bishops and really wonderful that he is able to be us for this feast.
All but one of the hymns Tuesday night will be the same as they were for my first service as rector on February 2, 1999. I didn’t sing much that night as I needed to keep my emotions under control to do my work as celebrant. I’ve gotten used to the power and beauty of the sound of singing, not to mention the organ, in this place, but it still takes hold of me from time to time when I’m presiding. Not every day of service as rector has been an easy one, but there has never been a day where I have not been thankful for the call to serve here. I thank everyone who shares a love for the work of Christ in this place of worship and welcome for all. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Brent, Christian, Mary, Rob, Sylvia, Isabella, Louis, John, Willy, Ernest, Marthe, Julia, Pearl, Noel, Jason, Stephen, Walter, Martha, Sally, Sam, Jean, Quinn, Heidi, Rasheed, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Trevor, Takeem, Arpene, Sidney, deacon, Horace, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the souls of Richard Langro and Anselme Diaz. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 31: 1955 Howell Denniston Essex.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday Worship: January 31, the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Monday, February 1, 6:00 PM, Eve of Candlemas: Solemn Evensong . . . Tuesday, February 2, Candlemas: Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study: Class continues on Wednesday, February 3, at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . Saturday, February 20, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Lenten Quiet Day, led by Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. We will gather at 9:30 AM for coffee and introductions. The first address is at 10:00 AM. The second address is at 11:00 AM. The noonday services begin at 12:00 PM. Lunch follows at around 1:00 PM. The third address will begin at 2:00 PM. Final prayers and dismissal will take place around 3:00 PM. Opportunities for quiet in the church and Saint Joseph’s Hall will be provided. All are welcome. Please RSVP if you plan to attend so we can make plans for lunch. A $10.00 donation for those attending would be welcome.
SUPERBOWL PARTY 2016 . . . The Annual Super Bowl Party will take place in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Sunday, February 7, beginning at 6:00 PM. This will be Super Bowl LXX, so even if you aren’t a huge football fan, come for the fellowship, the food, and the halftime show! Admission, for those who are able to pay, is $10.00. We also encourage those who attend to bring a dish to share. Beverages will be provided. Please contact Grace Bruni if you are bringing a dish to share.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Adam Morrow has been appointed by the bishop of New York as a new trustee of the diocese. The trustees manage the property and endowment funds of the diocese. Adam, thank you for your willingness to serve . . . The Community of St. John Baptist arrived in the United States from England on February 5, 1874. We give thanks for those who established this foundation and especially for ministry of the resident sisters . . . The Rector will be away on behalf of the parish on Sunday, January 31. He returns to the office on Monday, February 1 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 123 (Blizzard!).
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Writing sixty or so years after the death of Orlandus Lassus (1532–1594), the Silesian poet Wenzel Scherffer von Scherffenstein (1603–1674) expressed himself in verse as follows:
He is a true gift of God.
Alongside many masters who are much revered,
And have much propagated music within a hundred years.
Was it not Orlandus who first taught us how to sing?
The eternal praise of this paragon of this art
Will never provoke envy or snide remarks.
Many of his pupils have survived,
Still practicing in their various locations.
These days we express ourselves rather more prosaically, so it is good to be reminded of the abundance of enthusiasm for Lassus and the impact that the great works of this composer had on his contemporaries and successors. This coming Sunday we hear his parody Mass “Doulce Mémoire,” which uses musical ideas developed from the chanson by Pierre Sandrin (1490–1561). During the administration of Communion at the Solemn Mass on Sunday we will hear the Lassus motet, Videntes stellam magi, based on an Epiphany Matins responsory that quotes two verses from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. The music’s opening phrase neatly projects the upward gaze of the Magi, and the rich decoration of the melismatic lines toward the close suggests the richness of the gifts that are being offered. —Simon Whalley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, February 5, 2016, 8:00 PM, Riverside Symphony, in collaboration with the New York Virtuoso Singers: Trial and Triumph, Music by Imbrie, Copland, and Handel. A pre-concert presentation about the evening’s program will begin at 7:15 PM. Tickets may be purchased online or call 212-864-4197 . . . Saturday, February 6, 2016, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, Saint Mary’s resident orchestra. Music by Fauré, Telemann, and Martinu. Admission is free. $10.00 donation is suggested and most welcome.
HOPE COUNT 2016 . . . Because of last week’s blizzard, the HOPE Count scheduled for Monday night and Tuesday morning, January 25–26, 2016, was postponed. The Count will now take place on Monday, February 8, from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM. During the Count, some 3,000 volunteers will help the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to conduct its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), a HUD-mandated citywide community volunteer effort to count each chronically homeless person living in public spaces across the five boroughs during the coldest time of the year. A Saint Mary’s Team has been formed to help with the count. If you had already registered for the Count and if you plan to participate in the Count on February 8, you need do nothing more. You are already registered. If you would like to join the Team, please do the following: go to the Hope Count website to register; when asked, indicate that you are a member of “The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square Team”; when asked to sign up for a training site, choose PS 191–Amsterdam School, 210 West 61st Street, 10023; then contact Father Jay Smith to tell him that you have joined the Team. The HOPE Count is an opportunity to get involved in New York City's effort to reduce chronic street homelessness at a time when the number of homeless people in New York City is on the rise. —Jay Smith
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves) for distribution here at the parish. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . The Saint Mary’s Book Sale continues on Sunday mornings. All proceeds are used to serve those in need at Saint Mary’s, in our neighborhood, and beyond . . . Need help finding food or know someone who does? Call 1-800-5-HUNGRY (Why Hunger Hotline, Monday–Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM EST) or 1-866-3-HUNGRY (USDA National Hunger Hotline, 8:00 AM–8:00 PM EST). —J.R.S.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, February 7, 6:00–9:00 PM, Superbowl Party . . . February 10, Ash Wednesday . . . Friday, February 12, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Wednesday, February 24, Saint Matthias, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM.