FROM OUR DEACON: TIME AWAY & BACK AGAIN
On All Saints' Day, I returned from my time off from Saint Mary's, which had coincided with the first half of a fellowship leave I was granted by Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), where I've been a full-time English professor for thirty years. My award was for a half year with pay in support of a poetry writing project, preliminarily titled Afters and Befores, which takes its thematic purpose from some lines in T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, "Burnt Norton": "Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future/And time future contained in time past . . ." My manuscript of poems and prose poems in progress (two of which were recently published online) intends to illuminate the passage and evolution within a life now at middle age, lived fully, with all of the human concerns and complications-death, loss, aging, love, family, and so on.
A subtext of my subject is more than just examining the struggles and ways of living, and expressing them poetically. It is rather a sensing of convergences-narrated events and experiences-transformed into poetic expression that in form and content become a sort of conversion story, conversion from the Greek metanoia, literally a change of spirit or mind. Conversion can mean turning and movement, and is not a resting place. To quote T. S. Eliot again, from Four Quartets, "Little Gidding": "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." Conversion is something that especially interests me, in many ways, including personally, spiritually, theologically, creatively, artistically. Some of you may recall I taught on the subject of conversion in Scripture and poetry here last spring.
I spent my time away in Nashville, Tennessee, for a variety of reasons that included: my son and his family living there, the healthier environment especially at times of year of extreme weather and poor air quality here in New York City, numerous music opportunities for my violin playing, and an overall less stressful quality of life. I hope to be able to spend more time there.
Coincidentally, my church search while there (which included two Roman ones, and several Episcopal ones, from low to high and back) ended with my attending the Church of the Holy Trinity, an historic black Civil War-era parish, where the current rector had attended Nashotah House, and where Father Pace had been a priest, the latter even designing the altar as it stands now.
I continue to develop my manuscript, as I'm off from teaching for several more months. However, I have returned to Saint Mary's, with a great love and appreciation for our shared faith and community, for the welcoming space and life of our parish home, and for the worship and service we do together. How wonderful it has been since I walked back in the Forty-seventh Street doors on All Saints' Day to the familiar faces and the special smoky smell of the place! Looking way ahead, please mark your calendars for an Adult Education series that once again focuses on the intersection of theology and poetry-this time the theme of resurrection-for three Sundays following Easter Sunday. Some of the reading I've encountered during my sabbatical will certainly enrich the content of the course. My BMCC proposal originally asserted, quoting C. S. Lewis, a writer who admirably was able to incorporate Christian apologetics into his creative work: "Poetry, too, is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible." That seems apt and is perhaps something that might enhance not only my continuing fellowship work, but that as your deacon, too. -Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Julie, May, Penny, Donald, Linda, Eileen, Mona, Carol, Shareeda, Peter, Michelle, Barbara, Jean, Sally, Cliff, Antonia, Sharon, Robert, Nicole, Robin, Rebecca, Joanna, Jason, Dolly, Melissa, Juliana, Heidi, Catherine, Sam, Burton, Arpene, Takeem, Toussaint, Abraham; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Gaylord, Harry, and Louis, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the souls of Martin Agnone Ruane and George Turianski . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 20: 1886 Jennie Brisbane Schlesinger; 1892 George L. Parker; 1903 William Vanderbilt Kissam; 1913 Thomas McKee Brown, Jr.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Martin Agnone Ruane, the brother of Peter Agnone Ruane, died suddenly last week while visiting his parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania, his hometown. He was only twenty-seven. Peter is a good friend of the parish and often attends Morning Prayer. Peter and his wife Alanna were married here at Saint Mary's in September. Marty served as his brother's best man. Please keep Marty, his fiancée Michelle, his parents, his brother Peter, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
FOR MARINERS AT CHRISTMAS . . . One of the great ministries of the Episcopal Church is its association with the Seamen's Church Institute, which ministers to merchant ship sailors in New York City, Newark, New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay area, and in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read about their work and ministries here. We've been asked to collect travel-size toiletries (as one finds in hotel rooms) that can be distributed at Christmastide to the men and women who sail, men and women who often don't have a visa to permit them to shop ashore. There is a basket in Saint Joseph's Hall for collection of items. Money is welcome too. Make your checks payable to Saint Mary's, and note that it's for Seamen's Church Institute.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Our pledge campaign continues. We are making progress, but we still have a ways to go. Please make a pledge for 2017 today. We urgently need your help. Here are some statistics: $260,315.00 has been pledged so far. This is 61% of our pledge goal for 2017. We hope to achieve three goals between now and this Sunday, November 20, Commitment Sunday: (1) to encourage all Saint Marians prayerfully to consider how they can offer their time, talent, and treasure to God here at Saint Mary's during the coming year; (2) to raise $425,000.00 during this year's pledge campaign; and (3) to have all those who made a pledge for 2016 to fulfill that pledge no later than December 31, 2016, and earlier than that if possible. To make a pledge for 2017, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; or place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2016 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2017. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth, or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland; Steven Heffner; or Marie Rosseels, chair).
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED . . . The Flower Guild is already making plans to decorate the church for Christmas. This year the effort will be led by Guild members Rick Austill and Marie Rosseels. Decorating the church is hard work, but it is also a lot of fun, and there is a great sense of fulfillment as the church is made ready for the liturgies of Christmas. If you would like to help out, or if you would like to find out more about what the Guild does and how it does it, please speak to Marie or Rick.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, November 20, The Last Sunday after Pentecost and Commitment Sunday: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass with Organ and Choir 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. Parishioners are invited to place their pledge cards in the collection baskets during the Offertory . . . On Sunday, November 20, at 10:00 AM in the Mission House, Father Peter Powell continues his series on the Acts of the Apostles. . . Wednesday, November 23, The Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 23 . . . Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM . . . On Wednesdays, the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Sung Mass; on Thursdays the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Mass with Healing Service.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Penny Allen was discharged from New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center this week. She will continue to receive treatment at her home in Allendale, New Jersey . . . We are grateful to Mother Mitties De Champlain and Mother Alison Turner who celebrated the Eucharist here at the parish while Father Gerth was out of town . . .Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: January 15, 22, and 29. We also hope to receive donations for the reception in Saint Joseph's Hall on December 8, The Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our patronal feast. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5830 x 10 or by e-mail . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 229.
MUSIC NOTES . . . The musical setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the Missa Simile est regnum caelorum of Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). Victoria is considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Born in Avila, the seventh of eleven children, he began his musical education as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral, and began his classical education at San Gil, a Jesuit school for boys founded in 1554. By 1565, Victoria had entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, where he was later engaged to teach music and eventually named maestro di cappella. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594) who was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romano at that time. During his years in Rome, Victoria held several positions as singer, organist and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. There are twenty authenticated Mass settings of Victoria in addition to two Requiems.
The Missa Simile est regnum is one of Victoria's twelve parody Masses in which he quotes musical ideas from a pre-existing musical composition. In this case, Victoria's musical quotes are from a motet by his friend and contemporary, Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). Guerrero's motet on Matthew 20:1-4 likens the Kingdom of God to a landowner justly hiring laborers for his vineyard. Victoria's Mass skillfully reutilizes distinctive melodic features of Guerrero's motet, such as the rising perfect fifth which begins most of its movements. With the exception of the Benedictus in three voices, Victoria's Mass, like Guerrero's motet, is voiced in four parts. However, the final Agnus Dei spectacularly employs two choirs of four voices each that sing in strict canon.
Clifford Maxwell (1917-1999), a native of Barbados, grew up in Brooklyn and was very active in the New York community of church musicians for many years as he also served as organist and choirmaster at various Episcopal and Lutheran parishes. He composed his setting of two stanzas from George Hugh Bourne's powerful hymn "Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor" (#307 in The Hymnal 1982) in 1949 while under the tutelage of Harold Friedell at Saint Bartholomew's Church, Manhattan. Maxwell's setting, sung at the Solemn Mass on Sunday during the administration of Communion, is more reflective than triumphal in responding musically to the image of the risen enthroned Christ.
Sunday's organ prelude is J. S. Bach's Fugue in D minor (Dorian), BWV 538b. (It is Bach's partner piece to the Toccata which was played as the prelude last Sunday morning.) This fugue has a serious character, like a ricercar on a larger than usual scale. Its main theme ascends an octave by a series of leaps, and returns to the starting pitch by steps. Bach rigorously preserves the integrity of this theme and its appearance with its principal counter-theme throughout this fugue. Stretto, where occurrences of the theme overlap one another, is used extensively in this fugue. -David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Plans are moving ahead for our first Drop-In Day. The plan is this. On a weekday afternoon in January two or more volunteers will greet our homeless guests in the Mission House, and two or more volunteers are needed also to accompany them downstairs to our clothes closet. They will then have the opportunity to receive needed clothing items, as well as a bag with toiletry items, our recently designed book of prayers, as well as some information about the parish. At some point, if not in January, we hope to have a social worker or two present on these Drop-In Days to discuss other services. We hope also to have a chance to talk to our guests to hear more from them about the struggles they face in the Times Square neighborhood and to discover ways to shape our ministry based on the actual needs of the homeless in our area . . . Our Wish List: as the weather grows colder, we are looking for donations of socks, blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, toothpaste, toothbrushes, coats, backpacks, gloves, winter hats, earmuffs, rain ponchos, and, most important, gift cards for McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. If you'd like to volunteer to help distribute clothing and other items, please contact Sister Monica. - Members of the Homeless Ministry Committee
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, November 30, Saint Andrew the Apostle, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, December 2, 8:00 PM, New York City Master Chorale, "Majesty and Light." Music by Rutter and Lauridsen. Featuring the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Orchestra. Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, December 3, 2016, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Annual Benefit Concert. Tickets $10.00. Music by Pärt (Trisagion) and Beethoven (Symphony No. 9). Saint Mary's parishioners Grace Bruni, cello, and Mark Risinger, baritone, will perform at this concert . . . Wednesday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM, Legacy Society Reception 7:00 PM . . . Thursday, December 8, The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass and Confirmations 6:00 PM, Bishop Andrew M. L. Dietsche, celebrant and preacher.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Metropolitan Museum Fifth Avenue, until January 16, 2017, Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio. From the museum website, "The greatest French follower of Caravaggio (1573-1610), Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632) was also one of the outstanding artists in seventeenth-century Europe. In the years following Caravaggio's death, he emerged as one of the most original protagonists of the new, naturalistic painting." Exhibition objects includes pictures such as "Return of the Prodigal Son," "The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew," "Saint John the Baptist," "The Crowning of Thorns," "The Denial of Saint Peter," and "Christ and the Adulteress."