FROM THE RECTOR: WHITE, GOLD, AND BLACK
Saint Mary's has a beautiful black frontal. I suspect it was made in the 1930s. In the fall of 2004, it was substantially conserved by Christina Carr, a conservator in the Department of Textile Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With continued care, I suspect it will be here for many, many years. What has changed very slowly over the past few years, however, is how and when we use it. The changes reflect the theological direction of the present Prayer Book: "The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised" (The Book of Common Prayer , 507).
In the parishes I served as curate and rector before coming to Saint Mary's, I can only remember funerals celebrated with white vestments. A surplice and white stole would be worn at graveside services from the 1928 Prayer Book when I served at the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas. White vestments would be used also for services in the church. My second curacy was with Father Charles Jenkins, later bishop of Louisiana, in Baton Rouge. Like him, I was a graduate of Nashotah House Seminary. Shaped by the theological and liturgical perspective of the new Prayer Book, funerals at Saint Luke's were celebrations of the resurrection. I carried this background to Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana. My predecessor here, Father Edgar Wells, was also a Nashotah graduate. The same theological shift was well underway when I arrived-well underway when he became rector, too. His predecessor, Father Donald Garfield, rector here from 1964 until 1979, was a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church from 1970 until 1976.
The evening parishioner Helena Handy died, December 10, 2001, I sat with her husband George Handy at the then Cabrini Hospital Hospice on East 19th Street. George and I spoke about arrangements for Helena's funeral. I learned that his parents' coffins had rested in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy the evening before their services. He asked if Helena's coffin could be there, too. "Of course," I said. Then he asked if we could use the black vestments trimmed with silver. Of course. Then he told me, "They were worn at my father's funeral when I was ten years old." Hearing that was very moving for me. It's been emotional to wear those vestments ever since, especially for George's funeral after he died in 2012.
Two things happened at George's funeral that have continued to shape my pastoral response when we gather to bury the dead. For the first time at a funeral, we used the version of Psalm 23 that we use at the Easter Vigil and whenever we celebrate Baptism. The antiphon is, "You anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over." (At Baptisms the refrain is chanted by the congregation as it returns to the nave from the font-Father Louis Weil gets credit for putting this together when he taught at Nashotah House.) And for the first time at a funeral, I invited the congregation to follow the servers and clergy to the Vault in the Lady Chapel where George's ashes would be placed beside those of his wife. The congregation filled the chapel, the ambulatory, and the chancel to bid George eternal rest. Since becoming rector, I have invited congregations to gather in front of the font for Holy Baptism-and almost all who are able now will do so. Since George's funeral, I have continued to invite those present to gather where the ashes are being reposed-and again, almost all who are able will do so.
That said, it was during George's funeral, when I was preaching, that I first began to think about how to move from black to white. We've been getting there slowly at funerals and at the Masses of All Souls' Day and the parish requiems that follow on the next five weekdays, and I think we finally arrived at what is right for our Prayer Book and our time. This year, for the Masses on All Souls' Day the ivory white Easter vestments with gold trim-called "The Skyline Set" because of the design-were worn. The tabernacle veil was from this Easter set. The familiar and much-loved black frontal was on the altar for all of these Masses. No flowers. Taken together these were signs of grief, but even more of Easter and the life of the world to come. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR
Barbara, Penny, Nicholas, Bobby, Gabby, Eleanor, Wendell, José, Mary Hope, Noriko, Mike, Debbie, Sherri, Dick, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Horace, Clayton, Mitties, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for all victims of war, poverty, famine, violence, and disaster; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the souls of all those who have died in the service of this country . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 12: 1904 Thomas Edward Farson; 1916 John Robert Moore; 1933 Sarah Zoufe; 1939 Mary Elizabeth Smith; 1955 Kate Lee Moon.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
A BOOKLET BY FATHER TABER . . . The Reverend Grieg Taber (1895-1964) was the sixth rector of Saint Mary's, serving from 1939 until his death in1964. "Project Canterbury is a free online archive of out-of-print Anglican texts and related modern documents. It was founded in 1999 by Richard Mammana and is an all-volunteer effort; it is not affiliated officially with any church body." Richard is on the staff of the Ecumenical Office of the Episcopal Church and is a member of Trinity Church, New Haven, Connecticut. From time to time he worships with us at Saint Mary's. He has digitized a copy of a small booklet "How to Pray the Mass" (1953). He writes, "I've now digitized this un-paginated devotional booklet in which we catch a glimpse of the liturgical life at Saint Mary's in the early 1950s."
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Three weeks ago we kicked off our 2018 Stewardship Campaign, sending stewardship packets to nearly 1,000 members and friends of Saint Mary's. The Campaign has gotten off to a promising start. Some statistics: as of Wednesday, November 8, $173,840.00 has been pledged. This is 41% of our pledge goal of $425,000.00. Nearly 29% of those who pledged for 2017 made pledges for 2018 during the first week of the Campaign.
Between now and November 26, Commitment Sunday, we have set three goals: (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 reach $425,000 in pledges; and (3) to have all those who made a pledge for 2017 to fulfill that pledge no later than December 31, 2017.
To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; 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 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. 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, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, November 11, Veterans' Day (the church will be open on the normal Saturday schedule) . . . Saturday, November 11, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 8:30 AM-5:00 PM, Diocesan Convention . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on November 15 at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study . . . Friday, November 17, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor. Please enter at 145 West Forty-sixth Street, just west of the main doors to the church, and press buzzer 1 in the vestibule. Then climb up one flight of stairs, make a U-turn, and climb up another small flight of stairs. The Atrium will be on your left. The Group will also meet on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., fell ill this week. She is resting at the Mission House here at the parish and will be reducing her activities this weekend and during the coming week . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett was admitted to a rehabilitation facility on the Upper East Side for physical therapy and to continue her recuperation . . . Parishioner Penny Allen was admitted to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center at the end of last week for tests. She hopes to be able to go home this coming Saturday. Please keep Sister Monica Clare, Barbara, and Penny in your prayers . . . Sunday, November 26, in Saint Joseph's Hall, Sister Laura Katharine's Final Candle Sale. Prepare for Advent and Christmas: Candles are being offered at a steep discount-40% off the original price, with an additional discount if you buy 4 or more candles of any size . . . Father Jim Pace will be away from the parish next weekend, Friday, November 17-Sunday, November 19 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 194.
ADULT EDUCATION IN NOVEMBER . . . Father Pete Powell will continue his series on the Gospel According to Matthew on Sunday, November 12, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on November 15 and 29. The class will not meet on November 22, the Eve of Thanksgiving Day . . . On Sunday, December 3, and Sunday, December 10, at 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph's Hall (note location and later start time), parishioner Dr. Mark Risinger will lead the Adult Forum in a discussion of the Passion of Saint Matthew and the Passion of Saint John by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Mass in the Phrygian Mode by Rick Austill (b. 1955). Austill, a parishioner of Saint Mary's, is a 1977 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he earned a Fine Arts degree in piano performance as a student of Nelson Whittaker, and in composition as a student of Roland Leich. Each of the movements of Austill's Mass contains a mixture of exactly noted music and aleatoric elements. In explanation, Austill has written the following: "Aleatoric, in this setting, means individual voices enter at uneven times determined solely by the conductor. In the glorious acoustics of Saint Mary's it creates a 'cloud' of sound hopefully like the clouds of angels praising God. It's in the third church mode that I feel has a particularly haunting quality." Austill's Mass in the Phrygian Mode was composed in 2012. It uses the Rite II Eucharistic texts for which there are relatively few other choral settings. Although this setting will be sung today for the fourth time at Saint Mary's, its aleatoric sections make each performance a unique first.
The Communion motet on Sunday is a four-voice setting of O Sacrum convivium by priest and musician Giovanni Croce (1557-1609). The text O Sacrum convivium, often attributed to the great theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), found a home in the Roman liturgical cycle as the antiphon for Magnificat at second Vespers of Corpus Christi but is very much at home in any Eucharistic celebration. It has been set in Latin, as well as in vernacular translations, by distinguished composers of every generation. Giovanni Croce, though overshadowed in historic reflection by certain other Venice-centered composers of the late Renaissance, was well known in his time for his madrigals and secular compositions as well as his extensive output of church music. Croce sang as a boy chorister under Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590) at Saint Mark's, Venice, eventually succeeding Zarlino as maestro di cappella there. He remained in that position until his death in 1609, four years before it went to Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Croce's setting of O Sacrum convivium is in a conservative style with graceful falling melodic lines and close imitation between the voices.
C. P. E. Bach (1714-1788), born in Weimar as the second son of Maria Barbara and Johann Sebastian Bach, was, like his father, the most distinguished musician of his generation of Bachs. He served as harpsichordist to Frederick the Great and later as director of music to five principal churches in Hamburg. C. P. E. Bach's catalogue of compositions was impressive but included surprisingly little organ music. He did, however, compose six organ sonatas for Princess Amalie of Prussia, sister of Frederick the Great. Since the princess was unable to play the pedals, these sonatas were written for manuals alone. The first and middle movements of Sonata V in D Major will be played for the prelude, and the final movement of the same sonata will be played for the postlude today. -David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for November 18 and December 6, our next two Drop-in Days. We need blankets, razors, and shaving cream. We also need packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; and very shortly we will need cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items are proving to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Attorneys from the New York Legal Assistance Group have volunteered to host a Legal Aid Day for our Homeless Ministry on Wednesday, December 6, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the Mission House. The attorney volunteers will dispense legal advice, along with clothes and toiletries . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, December 8, 2017, 5:30 PM, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dr. Keith Reas, director of music, Saint Paul's Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee . . . Friday, January 5, 2018, 5:30 PM, Eve of the Epiphany, Stephen Rumpf, New York City . . . Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:30, The Presentation: Candlemas, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S
. . . Saturday, November 18, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents Vox Luminis: Royal Funeral Music . . . Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents The Tallis Scholars: Heinrich Isaac at 500. Visit the Miller Theatre website for more information and to purchase tickets . . . Saturday, December 9, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, Program: Rosenhaus: Overture from "The Inspector General"; Kabalevsky: Cello Concerto No. 1 in G minor; Schumann: Symphony No. 3 ("Rhenish"). Visit the NYRO website for information and to buy tickets.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, November 22, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 23, Thanksgiving Day, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, November 26, Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King, Commitment Sunday . . . Sunday, December 3, The First Sunday of Advent.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Met Fifth Avenue, November 13, 2017-February 12, 2018, Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer. From the museum's website, "Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), a towering genius in the history of Western art, is the subject of this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. During his long life, Michelangelo was celebrated for the excellence of his disegno, the power of drawing and invention that provided the foundation for all the arts. For his mastery of drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture, he was called Il Divino ("the divine one") by his contemporaries. His powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today.
"This exhibition presents a stunning range and number of works by the artist: 133 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, as well as a substantial body of complementary works by other artists for comparison and context. Among the extraordinary international loans are the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de' Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace. Selected from 50 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition examines Michelangelo's rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer."