FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER DAY AT SAINT MARY’S
As I write before sunrise on Good Friday, the church is dark and bare. There’s only enough light in the church so those who have been coming in during the night can move about safely. The candles are burning in the Mercy Chapel, where the Sacrament was reposed at the close of the Eucharist last night. But in a real sense, we have been celebrating the Lord’s resurrection all week.
In my first year at Nashotah House, our liturgics professor, Father Louis Weil, brought this home to my classmates and me as he introduced us to the rites of Holy Week. The other day I pulled out a bulletin from seminary to check the music for the anthem that will be sung today at the beginning of the veneration of the cross. I can remember Father Weil pointing this text out to us. We continue to use the same translation for the appointed Prayer Book antiphon that we used then at Nashotah, “We venerate your cross, O Lord, and praise and glorify your holy resurrection; for by virtue of the cross joy has come to the whole world” (BCP, 281). And there it is: Death and resurrection, the Paschal Mystery.
Liturgy is not drama, although it can seem dramatic, and many may misunderstand liturgy as drama. Christian worship is a proclamation and recognition that God is working in our lives and in our world now. Liturgy helps us know this, and it encourages us to enlarge our awareness of the Spirit’s presence and work in the now of our lives.
The smells and sounds of Easter have been around the church all this week. Organists are practicing. Flowers have been delivered, and floral arrangements are being created. Hundreds and hundreds of bulletins have been printed. The sound of choristers is heard in the church. Acolytes are rehearsing and preparing for liturgies. Someone always seems to be in the sacristy doing something. Our ushers are conferring about coverage for each one of our many services. The loving and generous work and gifts of so many will be offered to everyone who enters. As the sun sets on Holy Saturday, Easter Eve begins. Fire will be kindled. Water will be blessed and baptism conferred. And the church will move with the conviction that the true Light shines in whatever darkness there may be in our world, now and always.
The Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve at 7:00 PM is our first service of the Sunday of the Resurrection. As is our custom, on Easter Day hymns are sung at the 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM Said Eucharists. The parish choir will sing not only at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, but also at 5:00 PM Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction.
We use the traditional gospel for the Easter Vigil, (Matthew 28:1–10). This year on Easter morning we hear the appointed gospel, Luke 24:1–12. (Next year John 20:1–18 will be read, the following year, Mark 16:1–8). I love the gospel lessons at Easter Day Evensong. We hear John’s account of Jesus’ appearance to his disciples that begins, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’ ” (John 20:19). During Benediction, while the Sacrament is exposed, we hear Luke’s account of the risen Lord meeting two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. Not knowing who walked with them, they entreated the Lord, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent” (Luke 24:29).
The gospel accounts continue to invite us not to have a narrow view of God’s work in the past or in our lives today. These words encourage and sustain our faith in the midst of things that should not be.
Saint Mary’s is blessed to have many friends and members across the nation. If you are near, I hope you may be able to be with us to celebrate Easter Eve and Easter Day. And, if not, please be assured that those of us who do gather here will be holding up all of us, and all of you, in our Easter prayers. Happy Easter. Alleluia. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, Toussaint, Sharon, Hardy, Donald, Rick, Joanna, Rebecca, Emily, Ethel Mary, Connie, John, Eudine, Dennis, Patrick, Lily, Daniel, Kris, Sylvia, Sally, Sam, Jean, Heidi, Billy, Karen, Catherine, Takeem, Arpene, Mazdak, Patricia, Sidney, deacon, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 27: 1883 Louise Gardner Hall, religious; 1890 Mary Ann Rebecca Rice; 1896 Theresa Unger; 1917 Albert Heald Thwaite; 1922 Elmer E. Largen; 1924 Anna Cecelia Everard; 1932 Clarence Gerow Winter; 1934 Edward Selwyn Moffett.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The church will be open on Easter Monday from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The regular noonday services will be offered. The parish office will be closed . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 30. The class will resume on April 6.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . A new exhibition, “Recent Work by José Camacho,” will open soon in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall (STJH). A reception to celebrate the opening will take place in STJH on Thursday, March 31, 7:30–10:00 PM. For more information, please contact the gallery curator, José Vidal.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to all who helped give us a brilliant Palm Sunday, including the security officers from the Times Square Business Alliance. Thank you all! . . . It was wonderful to have the Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan of the diocese of New York, with us for the 12:30 PM liturgy on Good Friday . . . The Episcopal Church’s Facebook page posted a video of Saint Mary’s 2015 Liturgy of the Palms on Palm Sunday. As we go to press, there have been more than 88,000 views and many wonderful comments, for which we are grateful . . . Recent sermons by Father Smith and the Rector have been posted on the parish webpage . . . Flowers are needed for all the Sundays in Eastertide. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Palm Sunday 309, Maundy Thursday 145.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Monday, April 4, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (transferred), Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. The principal celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass will be the Right Reverend Mark Sisk, XV Bishop of New York.
MUSIC ON SUNDAY . . . The Mass setting at the Solemn Mass on Easter Day is Missa Secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612). Hassler was the most distinguished of the three musician sons of Isaac Hassler, organist at Nuremberg and the town musician. It seems likely that, during Hassler’s youth, his only music teacher was his father, Isaac. Under his father’s guidance, he became, at an early age, an accomplished organist. In 1584, at the age of twenty, Hassler went to Venice for further study. While in Venice he was a fellow-pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli under Gabrieli’s uncle, Andrea Gabrieli, who was organist at the Basilica of Saint Mark. In 1585, Hassler returned to Germany and become private organist to Count Octavian Fugger, the great merchant prince and art patron of Augsburg, where he mostly remained until 1600. The Augsburg years were extremely creative for Hassler. He became well-known as a composer and organist during this time. Though his actual stay at Venice was short, he had already fully imbibed the Venetian influence in music, as the warmth and suavity of harmony of his compositions show.
In 1602, Hassler returned to Nuremberg where he became the Kapellmeister, or director of town music, and served at the court of Rudolf II. In 1604, he took a leave of absence and traveled to Ulm, where he was wed to Cordula Claus. Four years later, Hassler moved to Dresden where he served as the chamber organist to Elector Christian II of Saxony, and then as Kapellmeister. By this time, Hassler had already developed the tuberculosis that would claim his life in June 1612.
Hassler was the most eminent organist of his day, and he is considered one of the founders of German music. His style was strongly influenced by the Gabrielis, and he was one of the first to bring the innovations of the Venetian style across the Alps. While musicians of the stature of Lassus had been working in Germany for years, they represented the older school, the fully developed and refined Renaissance style of polyphony; in Italy new trends were emerging which were to define what was later called the Baroque era. Musicians such as Hassler carried the concertato style, the polychoral idea, and the freely emotional expression of the Venetians back to Germany, creating the first and most Baroque development outside of Italy. Hassler composed sacred music for both the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran liturgies. Stylistically, his earlier music is more progressive than his later: he uses polychoral techniques, textural contrasts, and occasional chromaticism in the music he wrote after coming back from Italy; but most of his later religious music is conservative, using linear polyphony in the manner of Palestrina. Hassler’s Missa Secunda shows the influence of the composer’s years in Venice and his studies with the Gabrielis.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, April 3, Matthew Jacobson will begin his four-part series, Reading the Fathers: An Exploration of the History, Spirituality & Theology of the Early Church. A notice about the class has now been posted on the parish website. Take a look at the icon there of Saint Polycarp, who was martyred around AD 155. An early and important account of Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom will be read during this series . . . On Sunday, May 8, Stephen Morris will give a presentation on his new book, When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality (McFarland, 2015) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on March 30. The class will resume on April 6 at 6:30 PM.
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 or Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. Sister Monica and parishioner Clint Best have been organizing the clothing in recent weeks in order to expedite distribution . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street. —Jay Smith