FROM THE RECTOR: THE DOORS WILL BE OPEN
The doors will be open on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, for our neighborhood, our city, and the world that passes through what is now Times Square as they have been since December 8, 1870. It will be the one hundred forty-fifth celebration of our patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will also be the day on which we begin “Open Doors: The Campaign for the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.”
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM. After the Eucharist there will be a reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall for the announcement of our capital campaign. (I expect it will spill over into the side aisle of the church—and that’s okay.) I hope very much that many members and friends can be here. Simply put: our building needs conservation, repair, and careful modification so that our doors can remain open and accessible to all.
With the assistance of consultants from the Episcopal Church Foundation, preparations for Tuesday have been going on since the fall of 2014. There were “listening sessions” here at the church and in the homes of some of our parishioners. A feasibility study was conducted in early 2015. Campaign materials have been prepared. A short video to advertise the campaign will be shown at the reception—and will be posted on the campaign website. Advanced gifts have been solicited. Work with our conservation architects continues.
Two parishioners have made gifts to provide a special festive reception for the launch of the campaign. Mr. Simon Whalley, our organist and music director, has been on the bench preparing to play his first recital here on Tuesday evening at 5:30 PM. In a future newsletter, I will want to express my thanks to all those who have done so much to bring us to this point.
The Open Doors Capital Campaign is about our church home. Caring for our buildings enables worship, evangelism, and service to others. We need to restore the West 46th Street stone façade of the church, to provide accessibility to our buildings, and to repair drainage systems, windows, and doors. There are many more things we would like to do, but this is where our architects and those who took part in the “listening process” have asked us to concentrate our efforts at this time. The focus on these particular priorities says a great deal about the mission and witness of our parish. Time and again the members of the campaign committee and I have been impressed, and deeply moved, by the interest, enthusiasm, and support for Saint Mary’s future that we have witnessed.
Campaign materials will be sent to everyone on the church mailing lists on Wednesday, December 9. People will be invited to make a pledge to the campaign in addition to whatever they give to the annual stewardship drive. We need to remember that the “Open Doors Campaign” is about our future, not about the day-to-day operations in the present. We expect most pledges will be paid across a three-year period. One person told me, “If I make a three-year pledge I can give $25,000; if you will accept a four-year commitment I can give $50,000.” I was very happy to be able to say, “That’s wonderful. We’ll take it. Thank you so much.” Other questions and suggestions are welcome too. We think the campaign materials will address most issues, but the materials will also tell you how to get more information should you need it.
When I happen to walk through the church in the evening when the doors are closed for the day and the lights are off, the light before the tabernacle still burns. These words almost always come to mind with no effort on my part, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men and women. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3). It’s such an extraordinary privilege to serve this parish as its rector. Thank you to everyone for your prayers, your ideas, your hard work, and your gifts. Please join us for the celebration of Saint Mary’s past, present, and future on our patronal feast. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Phillip, John, Gilbert, Walter, Martha, Sally, Sam, Peggy, Maxine, Jean, Quinn, Kenneth, Heidi, Rasheed, Catherine, Trevor, Takeem, Arpene, Phillipe, Magda, Narges, Giovanni, Gamal, Hanoo, Linda, José, Pamela, RELIGIOUS, Horace, DEACON, Sidney, DEACON, Lawrence, DEACON, Horace, PRIEST, Paulette, PRIEST, Gaylord, PRIEST, and Harry, PRIEST, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 2: 1888 Zebulon Homan Brower; 1916 Ruby F. Flynn; 1919 Annie Pauline Lindsey.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of Wednesday, December 2, we have received pledges from 101 households. $314,632.00, 74% of our $425,000.00 goal, has been pledged to date. The end of the year is a crucial time for the pledge campaign. We need to maintain the momentum of the campaign’s first weeks. We urge all members and friends to return their pledge cards as soon as possible, either by mail or by placing your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass on Sunday morning. You may also call the finance office to discuss your pledge. The staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have already returned your pledge card, we thank you. If you have questions about stewardship, please ask to speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels; and please pray for the success of this year’s Stewardship Campaign
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, December 5, 2015, 8:00 PM, Miller Theater at Columbia University presents The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director: Sacred Muses—An Exploration of the Works of William Byrd. Tickets are available online or by calling 212-854-7799 . . . Sunday, December 6, The Second Sunday of Advent, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, December 6, Adult Forum: Seminarian Matthew Jacobson will discuss the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd in early Christian art . . . Monday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, December 8, The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 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 & Announcement of the Open Doors Capital Campaign in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . Wednesday, December 9, 6:30 PM, the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . On Saturday, December 6, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith, and on Saturday, December 12, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . If you would like to volunteer to decorate the church for Christmas, please contact Marie Rosseels . . . Wednesday, December 9, is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the ordination of Father Jay Smith to the priesthood. He will be celebrant for the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Altar flowers are needed for the feast of the Epiphany (January 6) and for all of the Sundays in January. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . At the Diocesan Convention on Saturday, November 14, Father Gerth was elected to serve on the Standing Committee of the Diocese. He will complete the term of a member whose resignation, in order to serve elsewhere, created an opening on the committee . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 232.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Second Sunday of Advent: Jean Langlais (1907–1991) is one of the great French composers of the twentieth century who helped reinvigorate and secure that country’s tradition of sacred music. Like his fellow countryman Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992), Langlais studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Paul Dukas (1865–1935), the composer most famous today for his work The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The vast majority of Langlais’s works were for organ or choir and organ. Like another significant teacher of his, Charles Tournemire (1870–1939), many of the works of Langlais are based on plainchant: in fact a quarter of his works revel in Gregorian themes. The Missa in simplicitate of 1952 does not explicitly quote such themes, but the melodies here enjoy shapes and modal inflections that are much in that ancient tradition. The work was originally performed by a single soloist— the dedicatee, mezzo-soprano Jeannine Collard—but its plainchant contours endow a fuller choral sound with a convincing liturgical character. For our Mass we shall have a texture of tenor & bass voices. The motet at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, De caelo veniet by Jacob Handl (1550–1591), also employs these forces in a richly embroidered work that rejoices in the affirmative sentiments of the text: a combination of three antiphons for this second week of Advent. The opening phrases have a nicely judged sense of descent “from heaven” after the initial octave leap and the closing cadence brings a positive, four-square certainty to the words “his glory shall be seen in thee” . . . The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: The organ recital that precedes the Solemn Mass on Tuesday combines music of joy and splendor with more quietly reflective works, two written in honor of Our Lady. The Leighton Fanfare sets a tone of excitement at the start, and we then hear the tender “Prayer to Our Lady” by Léon Boëllmann (1862–1897). Two English composers are then heard: the short work by Thomas Tallis (1500–1585) prepares us—with its Tudor harmonic surprises—for the following work by Herbert Howells (1892–1983). This latter piece does not borrow directly from the earlier composer but emulates his vocabulary in its opening theme and the variations that follow, building to a glorious climax before its retreat to a tiny final echo of the music of the start. Two German works bring the recital to a close: the Brahms chorale prelude wreathes the famous chorale tune (“Lo, how a rose e’er blooming”) with affectionate chromatic harmonies, and we end with the Pièce d’orgue, extraordinary in its opening and final sparkling flourishes and in the grandly noble theme at the core of the work. At the Solemn Mass on Tuesday we mark one of the great feasts of our Church with a Mass setting that was composed specifically for a Marian Feast. The Lassus motet from which the material is derived uses texts from “The Song of Songs,” and this Mass is a fine example of the “parody” technique much beloved by composers of this time. Short sections of the original motet of 1582 are worked into various segments of the Mass ordinary, and at times this original material is further developed in the Mass. For the motet, sung during the ministration of Communion, the choir will sing the beautiful setting of “Ave Maria” by Lassus’s contemporary Jacques Arcadelt (1507–1568). He is actually better known for his secular works, in the guise of both chansons and madrigals. His setting of the words here displays both simplicity and sensitivity. —Simon Whalley
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music 4:30 PM and Mass 5:00 PM; Music 10:30 PM and Procession & Mass 11:00 PM . . . Friday, December 25, Christmas Day, Mass & Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, December 27, The First Sunday after Christmas, A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols 5:00 PM . . . Monday, December 28, Saint John the Evangelist (transferred), Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, December 29, The Holy Innocents (transferred), Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on December 9 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will begin its reading at Isaiah 46. The class will not meet on December 16, 23, or 30, nor on January 6. The class will resume on Wednesday, January 13 . . . Adult Forum, Sundays at 10:00 AM: December 6, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will discuss the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd in early Christian art . . . December 13, The Adult Forum scheduled for Sunday, December 13 has been cancelled. It will be scheduled at a later date . . . January 10 and 17, Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will lead the class in a discussion of Episcopal polity and governance. (This will be a very useful class for those preparing for Confirmation or Reception, as well as for those who want to learn more about what our church believes and how it works.) In this series, Canon Barlowe will address such topics as the workings of General Convention, legislation passed at this summer’s convention in Salt Lake City, the role of the Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the mechanism for electing a Presiding Bishop in our church . . . January 24, To be announced . . . Sunday, January 31 & February 7, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will lead a two-part series entitled Concerning Conversion: Considering Christian Turning and Transformation Through Poetic Texts. . . Six Sundays in Lent (February 14, 21, 28 & March 6, 13, and 20) Father Peter Powell will continue his series on the The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11-20; 1 Kings 1-2. —Jay Smith
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . 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). —Jay Smith
A VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY . . . The New York City Department of Homeless Services (NYCDHS) is seeking volunteers for its upcoming Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (the “HOPE Count”), which will take place on Monday, January 25–26, between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM. Volunteers should be eighteen years of age or older, and will be able to choose their volunteer site when they register on the departmental web site. Volunteers will report to their respective sites, where a HOPE Count representative, or captain, will lead volunteers into their selected communities and will provide instructions about how to accurately count the city’s homeless people. If you would like to volunteer for the HOPE Count, please contact Father Jay Smith, and he will register the Saint Mary’s contingent as a group as soon as the NYCDHS has added the registration button to its website. Members of the parish have done the Count in the past and have found it to be rewarding work.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, December 11, 2015, 8:00 PM, New York City Master Chorale, Thea Kano, artistic director: Rheinberger, Der Stern von Bethlehem and other favorite holiday carols, featuring special guest, the Reaching for the Arts Choir. Tickets available only from New York City Master Chorale . . . Saturday, December 12, 2015, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 9. Annual Benefit Concert. $10.00 admission at the door . . . February 5, 2016, 8:00 PM, Riverside Symphony, George Rothman, music director & conductor: “Trial & Triumph,” Music by Copland, Imbrie, and Handel.