FROM THE RECTOR: THE PSALTER
Over the years, through the grace of knowing some generous priests who were retiring and reducing their libraries, I have acquired all but one in the series of Prayer Book Studies done to prepare for the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer (1976). The series started in 1950 with a single volume. It included the first two studies: I Baptism and Confirmation and II The Liturgical Lectionary. There's a lot to be learned from the series about the present Prayer Book and about the shape of liturgical studies of their time.
After David Hurd mentioned to Jay Smith and me that the poet W. H. Auden (1907-1973) had been on the committee that worked on the Psalter, I decided to take a look at what that committee had written about their work. The drafting committee issued two reports. The first, Prayer Book Studies 23: The Psalter Part I (1970), presented 71 psalms. There would be revisions in this group of psalms when the rest were published in 1973.
In 1928, Psalm 1 began, "Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly." In 1970, the Psalm 1 began, "How blest is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked." In 1973, it began, "Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked." The final proposed (1976) and adopted version (1979) begins, "Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked."
In Prayer Book Studies 29: Introducing the Draft Proposed Book (1976), Charles P. Price (1920-1999) described the Standing Liturgical Commission's (SLC) approach to concerns about the generic use of "man" in the American English of the day. He wrote, "In making alterations as a result of this consideration, each case has been considered on its own merit" (page 27). In his comments on the Psalter, he wrote, "the Psalter has been thoroughly reworked, with the intention of reflecting both contemporary word usage and also the results of the most recent Hebrew scholarship. Since the Psalter is to be used in both Rite I and Rite II, no word has been employed in the new translation that would not have been available to [Miles] Coverdale in the sixteenth century" (page 109).
Miles Coverdale (c. 1488-1569) was one of the great translators of the Bible into English and one of the great stylists of English of any era. His 1539 Psalter was used with the First Book of Common Prayer (1549). The 1662 English Prayer Book used the lessons from the King James Version of the Bible but kept Coverdale's Psalter. The 1928 American Book made revisions to Coverdale based on better Hebrew texts.
The SLC was clear about the process and the objectives for revising the well-known and much loved Psalter of the Prayer Book. Among the considerations was a keen awareness of what made Coverdale so good. If you know the 1928 Psalter, once you really know the new Psalter, you can feel the same rhythms of English you knew from 1928. There's something natural about it; it feels as if one is having a conversation with God.
In 1970, the drafting committee wrote, "Moreover, the Psalter is not primarily a body of readings to which one listens, or which one reads in solitude. It is a hymnal intended for corporate congregational recitation. A version of the Psalms for public worship, therefore, must lend itself to congregational singing and reading" (Prayer Book Studies 23, 5). Sadly, it's this "corporate congregational recital" of the Psalter-and not just the short selections for Eucharists-that is no longer widely characteristic of the Episcopal Church. I sense its absence in my experience of worship most places I attend apart from Saint Mary's.
When I pray an office by myself, I know I can speed it up to get through the psalms and the lessons pretty quickly. But when I slow down, especially in the Psalter, I sense that I am joining myself to the prayer of the larger church. When I slow down with the Psalter, there's some chance I will more prayerfully read the lessons, too. I know that there are many different and good ways to pray. For me, there's something holy about, again, the conversation with God one has with the psalms and lessons of the Daily Office. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Claudette, Jimmy, Geneva, Dennis, Elsa, Paula, Christopher, John, Alexander, Shawna, Rocco, Krystal, May, Robert, Nicole, Heidi, Barbara, Jean, Sam, Wilbert, Sharon, Donald, Linda, Burton, Takeem, Toussaint; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Hamilton, Peter, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Carl, priests; all victims of war, poverty, famine, and disaster; and the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . We give thanks on Sunday, February 5, 1874, for the anniversary of the arrival of the first sisters of the Community of St. John Baptist from England for work in the United States . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 5: 1889 Hermann Lichtner; 1897 Sarah Louise Stone; 1903 Walter Malius; 1906 Henry M. Bolton; 1922 Lois Sherman Flick; 1939 Therese Bishop; 1964 Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele; 1976 Frances Field Swanton; 1978 Jacob Peter Flipse; 1993 Gerald Dennis Bergstrom; 1995 Leo Szalkowski.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Adult Forum: Dr. Charles Morgan will teach his third and final class on anger in our "Dealing with the Hard Stuff" series on Sunday, February 5, at 10:00 AM in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, February 8, at 6:30 PM, in the Nursery.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Dennis Smith was admitted to Hackensack UMC Palisades Hospital in North Bergen, New Jersey, this week for treatment. We expect that he will be discharged soon for further treatment at a rehabilitation facility. Please keep him in your prayers . . . A Word of Thanks: Thank you to all those who worked so hard this week to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. As always, your work and your ministry are much appreciated . . . Thank you to Gregory Eaton, who traveled from Austin, Texas, to play the organ recital on Thursday. Gregory's program built to a powerful crescendo with Leon Boellmann's Suite Gothique, Op. 25. Because Gregory was here, we were pleased to be able to welcome a number of visitors from the Church of Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights, where Gregory served as organist for many years . . . Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: February 12, 19, and 26. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 147; Presentation 171.
OUR SEMINARIAN . . . Dr. Matthew Daniel Jacobson is to be ordained deacon on Saturday, March 4, at 10:30 AM, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The members of the parish community are invited to attend. Please keep Matt in your prayers.
SUPER BOWL PARTY. . . Super Bowl 51 will take place on Sunday, February 5, 2017, beginning at 6:30 PM EST. Once again, we will mark the occasion with a party in Saint Joseph's Hall. Beverages will be provided. Dinner is potluck. Please contact Father Smith or Grace Bruni if you are planning to come to the party and are able to bring a dish to share. We will not have an oven available for warming dishes up, so we would ask you to plan accordingly. Cash donations at the door will be accepted in order to cover the costs of food and beverages. Please be generous! The hospitality budget needs your help! Remember: you don't need to know anything about football to come to the party. Come for the fellowship, the comfort food, and the half-time show!
FROM DR. DAVID HURD . . . The Mass setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is Missa Aedis Christi, which was composed in 1958 by Herbert Howells (1892-1983) for Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. This setting is one of several liturgical cycles Howells composed for a particular place. Although he also composed extensively for orchestra and smaller instrumental ensembles, he is most remembered for his choral compositions, many of which were composed for Anglican services. Howells had been a student of Stanford and Parry at the Royal College of Music in London and was a close friend of Vaughan Williams, whom he considered a mentor. Extending from this distinguished lineage, Howells is especially recognized for his expressive approach to text setting and his distinctive harmonic vocabulary. Most of Howells' English church music is composed for choir with organ accompaniment. Missa Aedis Christi, in contrast, is composed for unaccompanied choir, in four voices with liberal division within voices to accommodate the harmonic and textural pallet.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594) is generally recognized as the composer whose work, more than that of any other single composer, defined the summit of Renaissance polyphony and established canons for evaluating appropriate church music that remain in place to our time. The motet sung during the administration of Communion is Palestrina's Sicut cervus, a setting for four voices of the beginning of Psalm 42. Of Palestrina's more than three hundred motets, Sicut cervus is particularly beloved for its elegant simplicity and accessibility and for the broad devotional appeal and liturgical application of its psalm text.
Bach's chorale prelude on Schmücke dich ("Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness"), played as the organ prelude, is an expression of serene spiritual confidence. Found among the mature eighteen Leipzig chorales, this setting features the chorale melody in an elegantly understated ornamented form, singing above the bass line and two accompanying voices. -David Hurd
ADULT EDUCATION . . . On February 12, 19, and 26, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will lead the series Hagiography in the Early Church. Matt writes, "In some ways, hagiographies are similar to biographies, but in many ways they are very different. Hagios is a Greek word used often in the Bible that can be translated as 'holy' or 'set apart,' and it is also used to describe the saints. Christian hagiographies therefore are writings that tell the stories of the lives of the saints. This thee-part class will explore the genre of hagiography, focusing on texts from the first five centuries, both as a means to learn more about some early saints as well as the genre itself, to better understand the early Church." On Sundays in Lent, March 5, 12, 19, 26, and April 2 and 9, Father Pete Powell will continue his class on the Acts of the Apostles; and, during Eastertide, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will present a series of classes entitled "Rising / Rose / Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry" . . . Wednesday Night Bible Study Class . . . The class will meet on February 8 at 6:30 PM. The class will begin its reading this Wednesday at the beginning of Romans 6. The class will not meet on February 15, when Father Smith is away from the parish. The class will meet on February 22 at 6:30 PM.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY . . . The Budget Committee and the Board of Trustees expects that we will need to raise around $4,000.00 in 2017 in order to supplement the funds allotted in the budget for hospitality. Our hospitality efforts include Sunday Coffee Hours and Evensong receptions, holy-day receptions, and special events such as Quiet Days, Oktoberfest, the Super Bowl Party, and birthday and anniversary celebrations. Since we welcome so many visitors to the parish, the hospitality ministry is crucial to what we do and who we are. If all our members and friends were to make a regular donation to this ministry, we would easily cover our shortfall. No donation is too small! If you make a donation by check, please include the words "Hospitality Ministry" in the memo line. We are grateful to all those who continue to support this ministry.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, February 4, 7:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM), The Trident Ensemble presents "Crossroads: Music from Georgia." From the ensemble's website: "Surrounded by the Black Sea, situated between Europe and Asia, the nation of Georgia lies at a meeting point between West and East. Having survived occupations by the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and even annexation by Russia in the 1800s, the country maintains a completely unique language, alphabet, culture, and musical practice. Join Trident as we explore the rich history and polyphonic tradition of Georgia, from folk music to contemporary classical a cappella repertoire." Tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 11, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Program includes music by Pfitzner, Ravel, and Bruch. Admission is free. A donation at the door is encouraged. More information is available online.
ORGAN RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, March 24, 5:30 PM, Richard Robertson, Church of the Holy Ghost, Denver, Colorado; Sunday, April 16, 4:30 PM, Timothy Pyper, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Thursday, May 25, 5:30 PM, David Hurd, organist and music director.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . March 1, Ash Wednesday . . . Sunday, March 12, Daylight Saving Time begins . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Monday, March 20, Saint Joseph, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . From the website of the Wall Street Journal, "Back in 1517, when it was founded, Oxford's Corpus Christi College was the hot new thing on campus. Unlike the university's other colleges, where the religious concerns of the medieval world usually reigned, the new college fancied itself a Renaissance institution-humanist and enlightened. Its library lay at the heart of that mission." The Corpus Christi library will be sending some of its treasures to the United States this spring, first to the Folger Library in Washington, DC, beginning on February 4, and then to the Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History on Sixteenth Street, beginning on May 14. It looks like the exhibition will help trace the beginnings of modern, critical Biblical scholarship in England, an important subject for all Anglicans. We will keep you posted.
Click here for this week's calendar.