FROM THE RECTOR: REJOICE
I was up before dawn on Easter Day, to go the tomb, as it were—actually to work on my sermon—which couldn’t help but remind me of the women in the resurrection stories in the gospels; and like those holy women, I discovered something I did not expect to find. In Matthew, on the morning of the resurrection as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph are going from the tomb to tell the disciples what they have seen and what they have been told by the angel to tell the others, Jesus greets them with the command, “Rejoice” (Matthew 28:9a). In his book Matthew 21–28: A Commentary (2005), Professor Ulrich Luz writes, “With this greeting he confirms and deepens the ‘great joy’ the women already have [received] (v.8)” (page 607).
The Greek word here is a form of the verb chairō. It’s a present tense active imperative, second person plural. The same verb form a parent might use to say to his or her kids, “Please, go to your room.”
The King James Version translates Jesus’ greeting as “All hail.” In the Revised Standard Version it is simply “Hail!” In the New Revised Standard Version, it’s “Greetings!” The Roman Catholic New American Bible (Revised Edition, 2011) obscures the Greek text even more. Matthew 28:9a is translated as, “And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.” Still, it’s worth noting that, in all of these editions of the Bible, the same Greek word appears at the conclusion of the beatitudes, where it is translated as “Rejoice” (Matthew 5:12). It is also the same verb form that Saint Paul uses in his letter to the Philippians, when he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say Rejoice” (4:4).
After checking those Bible translations, I went to the other two commentaries on Matthew that I have (by W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann  and by D. J. Harrington )—and to a couple of dictionaries and concordances. Mann and Albright followed the RSV, Harrington, the New American Bible. Neither commentary raises the translation issue. Apparently, the word chaírete was a standard form of greeting in the Hellenistic world. Still, I think that Professor Luz is onto something: the root meaning of the verb, “to rejoice,” cannot be irrelevant in the context of the appearance of the Risen Lord; and for me the ordinary meaning of the Greek makes me want to re-hear Jesus’ words in all of the gospels in a new way, keeping the word “rejoice” in my mind, my heart, and my prayer.
If you were able to worship at Saint Mary’s during Holy Week and on Easter Day, you would not have missed the joy that was abroad—and perhaps this helped me pay real attention to Professor Luz’s words as I read them. A week ago, I was worried not only about snow on Palm Sunday, but also about a half-marathon for more than 20,000 runners that would be going through Times Square the same morning. The day turned out really fine—cool, but with very bright sunshine. The half-marathon closed Seventh Avenue to traffic early, but the runners were through before 11:00 AM, and the race meant less automobile traffic in the Square.
Our guest organist and music director, Dr. Timothy Pyper, was just the right person to bring us from Palm Sunday through Solemn Paschal Evensong on Easter Day. The music all week was glorious. Tim, thank you so very much.
Bishop Allen Shin was celebrant and preacher for the 12:30 PM Good Friday Liturgy, Father Smith was the celebrant and preacher for the 6:00 PM Good Friday Liturgy. I had the privilege of being celebrant and preacher for the other solemn Eucharists of the week and for the Great Vigil of Easter. Since it was lighted, our 72-inch paschal candle has been burning whenever the doors of the church have been opened.
I’d like to write a special word of recognition to our Office Manager Chris Howatt. Many of you know he has been a singer here for some years. His gifts and work have been greatly appreciated by staff and volunteers. Chris, thank you. And a special word of thanks also to José Vidal for coordinating the reception after the Easter Vigil and to Richard Mohammed for overseeing the servers’ dinner in the Rectory!
The sacristy was a very happy place to serve this week—in no small part because of the extra work of our team leaders, MaryJane Boland, Brendon Hunter, and Marie Rosseels. To all of the servers, thank you. Behind the scenes in the sacristy, among the ushers, and among the members of the Flower Guild, there were a lot of smiles as they went about their work. To everyone who made it possible for so many to worship, and to rejoice, thank you.
Finally, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, will be here on Monday night, April 4, to be celebrant and preacher for the 6:00 PM Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation. The choir of Merton College, Oxford, UK, will sing the service. Our assisting priest, Father Paul Burrows was in England and wrote to me yesterday and said that we “are in for a treat, the Merton Choir were brilliant over the Passiontide Festival.” Easter Season in this year of grace is looking very good. —Stephen Gerth
WELCOME, DR. DAVID HURD . . . David Hurd is one of the senior musicians of the Episcopal Church. As announced, he will be our interim organist and music director for the months of April and May—this year the final Sunday of the choir season is Sunday, May 29. It’s a matter of grace that he was available to be with us. He’s an organist, choral director, and composer. His smile is right at home at Saint Mary’s. David, thank you so much for joining us. —S.G.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ethan, Julie, Sharon, Patricia, Toussaint, Donald, Rick, Joanna, Rebecca, Ethel Mary, Connie, John, Eudine, Dennis, Patrick, Lily, 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 . . . April 3: 1891 Flora Ann Smith; 1892 Clarence Claudius Bode; 1901 Mary Jane Crook; 1902 Arthur Jones; 1917 Edward Dwight Atherton; 1930 Josephine Hewitt Keffner Lyons; 1933 Thomas Gillen Dawson Thomas; 1938 Sarah Anna Stoothoff Muren; 1940 William Wise Raymond; 1940 Lily E. Goodall Hubert; 1952 Francis Mills Turner.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on April 6 at 6:30 PM.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . A new exhibition, “Recent Work by José Camacho,” opened this week in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall (STJH). A reception to celebrate the opening took place in STJH on Thursday, March 31. For more information or to make an appointment to view the exhibition, please contact the gallery curator, José Vidal.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, March 26, at the Great Vigil of Easter, Alexandra Brackett received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Please keep her in your prayers . . . In addition to all those who worked so hard during Holy Week, we would like to thank all those who have responded so promptly to the Annual Easter Appeal. If you would still like to make a donation, please call the parish office at 212-869-5830 . . . Our good and very generous friend Natasha Singh was at Saint Mary’s on Easter Day, taking photographs of the liturgy. If you would like to purchase a print of one of the photos that she took at the Easter Vigil in 2015, you may still contact her by email or by phone at (516) 564-3547 . . . Altar Flowers are needed for all the following Sundays: April 17, May 1, May 8, May 15 (Day of Pentecost), May 22 (Trinity Sunday), May 29 (Corpus Christi), as well as for Ascension Day (May 4 & 5). If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . We are very grateful to all of our assisting priests and to our deacon. It was good to have Mother Mitties De Champlain, Father Jim Pace, and Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins with us for most of the liturgies of Holy Week. Their help proved invaluable. Father Peter Powell and Barbara Powell came down from Connecticut and were with us for most of the Holy Week liturgies as well. It is always good to have them here at Saint Mary’s. Their support is much valued and much appreciated. Father Paul Burrows has been out of town of late, taking some time off to visit with friends and family. He is back in New York, and we look forward to seeing him soon . . . Attendance: Good Friday 261; Easter Eve & Easter Day 609.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Saturday, April 9, 3:00 PM, Bishop Allen Shin will institute and induct Father John Beddingfield as the seventh rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East Eighty-eighth Street, New York City . . . Sunday, April 24, The Fifth Sunday of Easter is Genocide Remembrance Day . . . Sunday, May 1, The Sixth Sunday of Easter: May Crowning & Annual Meeting . . . Wednesday, May 4, Eve of Ascension Day, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 5, Ascension Day. Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. The principal celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass will be Bishop William Franklin . . . Sunday, May 15, The Day of Pentecost.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594) was a Franco-Flemish composer of great influence and amazing productivity. His catalogue of over 2,000 works in nearly every Latin, French, Italian, and German vocal genre known in his time places him among the most prolific and versatile composers of the era. His approximately 530 motets include many religious works and ceremonial pieces. Almost sixty Masses of his survive. Most are parodies, modeled usually on his own sacred motets or, occasionally, other composers’ works. The Mass setting that we will hear at the Solemn Mass on April 3, the Second Sunday of Easter, is Lassus’ Missa paschalis, one of the composer’s best known Masses. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear a motet by Josquin Desprez (c. 1450/1455–1521), Victimae paschali laudes. The text of the motet is essentially the same as that of the sequence hymn sung earlier during the Mass, just before the proclamation of the gospel . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Annunciation is the Missa “Bell’ amfitrit’ altera,” also by Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594). This setting is for two choirs of four voices each, and it reflects some influence from the Venetian style of Giovanni Gabrieli and others. A “parody mass,” it is probably based upon an unknown madrigal.
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).
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