FROM THE RECTOR: ORIGINS
John Jacob Astor, Jr. (1791–1869) gave three lots to the new congregation that was organized in 1868 as the Society of the Free Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The lots were in what is now called Times Square. The first rector, Thomas McKee Brown (1841–1898), would later write that the land was given “on the condition that the Church should be free, and positively orthodox in management and working” (N. F. Read, The Story of Saint Mary’s , 16–17). We know what the word “free” meant—no pew rents. I’m not sure what was meant by the phrase “positively orthodox in management and working,” but Saint Mary’s was something very new when its doors opened at 228 West 45th Street on Thursday, December 8, 1870.
The parish kept that day as the “Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and called the day its “patronal feast”—a celebration to be found in the English, but never in an American, Prayer Book. Our parish and its leaders were at the forefront of the most contentious issue within the church at that time: “ritualism.” The sacramental and ceremonial life of the Pre-Reformation church was coming back in the wake of the Oxford Movement. From the beginning the parish had what was called a “High Celebration” on Sundays as well as a daily Mass. The oldest order of service we have is from the “High Celebration” on Sunday, October 15, 1871.
If I read the order of service correctly, the “High Celebration” began with a processional hymn followed by a second hymn labeled “Introit.” Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) was by Mozart (no further information is given), and we know from later accounts that what we know as the Mass ordinary—Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus, and Agnus Dei—were always sung here in English, despite the language of composition, until 1969.
That year, for Candlemas, February 2, Father Donald Garfield (rector from 1965 to 1978) let the choir sing the ordinary in Latin with Mass (1963) by Paul Hindemith (1895–1963). It’s also significant that Lord, have mercy was not officially part of the Prayer Book rite in use in 1871. It became an option with the 1892 book.
The creed was sung to the setting by John Merbecke (1510?–1585?). Then there was another hymn, possibly at the offertory. During the Eucharistic Prayer the Sanctus was also by Mozart. Benedictus and Agnus Dei, also by Mozart, seem to have been sung after the Eucharistic Prayer. Benedictus was not formally a part of the American Eucharistic Prayer until 1979. Agnus Dei was not permitted until the 1928 book. At this Mass Gloria in excelsis was sung not to the setting by Mozart, but by the congregation after communion—its place in the Prayer Book from 1552 until 1979. The setting listed is “Old”—possibly the Old Scottish Chant setting still in the hymnal (S 204). After this there were two more hymns. I’m exhausted just thinking about this kind of a service.
That said, I’m sure there was great spiritual power in the music, in the preaching, and in the ritual of worship. Not receiving communion was not as unusual then as it is now. Since the beginning of the Middle Ages, very few Christians of any denomination had received communion every Sunday before the latter part of the twentieth century.
If we look behind these outward and visible signs of our origins, Father Brown and this congregation were seeking to follow what they thought was the best thinking about worship in their day. They had a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. At his death Father Brown was eulogized for his hard work and for the pastoral care of the congregation he served. Our pews are still free. The Mass is still “high.” I hope my clergy colleagues and I are worthy of the example of our first rector in our pastoral care.
Today our church remains a place of worship and welcome. We try to remain faithful to the gospel by continuing to grow in our relationship with God and with each other through Jesus Christ. Our doors are open not just for ourselves and for those who enter and find a home, but so that we who are his body in this place may recognize him and serve him in others wherever we find ourselves in our daily lives. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Barbara, Eugene, Susan, JoAnn, Yves, Nargis, Paul, Sam, Albert, Peggy, Dianne, Vicki, Maxine, Veronica, Jean, Quinn, Mala, Mark, Gerry, Kenneth, Heidi, Rasheed, Toussaint, Linda, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Jonas, José, Pamela, religious, Sidney, deacon, Erika, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Sandra Schlender . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 25: 1902 Jennie McLean; 1924 James Robert Wood.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Stewardship packets were mailed on Friday, October 16. We’ve already received a number of pledge cards this week. We invite you prayerfully to consider your commitment, including your financial commitment, to Saint Mary’s for 2016. We reached our goal last year, and we are determined to do that again this year. If you are able to do so, please return your pledge card to the Finance Office as soon as possible; or think about placing your pledge card in the offering basket on Sunday morning. This can be a powerful and prayerful way to make this particular commitment to God and to the Body of Christ gathered here. If you have questions about pledging, please contact a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, October 24, 6:00–8:45 PM, Oktoberfest: Potluck Supper & Hymn Sing . . . Sunday, October 25, 10:00 AM, Arch Room, Mission House, Second Floor, Adult Education: The Two Michelangelos, Part IV: The Religious Art of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio . . . Wednesday, October 28, Saint Simon & Saint Jude, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, October 28, 7:00 PM (note later time), Saint Joseph’s Hall, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class . . . On Saturday, October 24, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth. On Saturday, October 31, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, parishioner Barbara Klett is scheduled to have surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Friday, October 23. Mother Paulette Schiff, a former assisting priest at Saint Mary’s, had surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital on Thursday, October 22. Please keep them in your prayers . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays: November 15 and 22, and December 13 (Rose Sunday). If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 189.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Josef Rheinberger (1839–1901) was best known in his lifetime for his teaching, but his creative work—both as performer and composer—made a significant contribution to nineteenth-century cultural life in Germany. His appointment to the position of Hofkapellmeister in Munich in 1877 helped encourage his interest in composing sacred music, and his legacy is chiefly focused on this alongside a fine array of organ sonatas. Rheinberger’s harmonic language is firmly rooted in the Teutonic tradition of J. S. Bach, with moments of highly expressive text setting, drawn through some unexpected harmonic turns and a contrapuntal rigor that reveals his learning. Rheinberger’s Missa brevis in F, which we will hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning, emulates the late-Renaissance practice of having a motivic idea that returns throughout the work at the start of each movement (one perhaps thinks of the Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (1539–1623). Our communion motet on Sunday is by Josquin Desprez (c. 1440–1521), the leading composer of the early Renaissance in continental Europe. The text is a general hymn of praise to Our Lady, and the composer sets its various acclamations with evident delight. Each clause starts afresh in a series of different textures, opening with a soprano-alto duet succeeded by a tenor-bass duet. Josquin was never shy about introducing rhythmic games into his music, and in this work the “Gaude quae post ipsum scandis” is marked with a lively triple-time section. The culminating “Alleluia” borrows from the opening musical idea and brings the work to a thrilling conclusion. —Simon Whalley
OKTOBERFEST RETURNS . . . On Saturday, October 24, 6:00–9:00 PM, we will welcome the arrival of autumn with a potluck supper in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Supper will be followed by a hymn sing in the organ loft. Please bring a dish to share; and please contact Grace Bruni or Father Jay Smith if you are able to bring a dish with you. Beverages will be provided. This has been a popular event in the past. It is a good opportunity to spend some time with fellow parishioners and to meet those who are new to the parish. It is also a good way to introduce Saint Mary’s to those looking for a parish home.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUNDAY . . . Sunday, October 25, is Social Media Sunday (#SMS), an event begun by several Episcopal laypeople in 2013 in order to promote and harness social media as a means of communication and evangelism. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, this is an opportunity to tell your social-media network about who you are—about your faith, your church, and your parish. You can find more information about #SMS on Facebook or through the Episcopal Church Foundation.
ALL SOULS’ DAY REMEMBRANCE . . . On Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, there will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. The Solemn Mass and Blessing of the Vault will take place at 6:00 PM. The annual Requiem Masses will be said on the days that follow (Tuesday through Friday, November 3–6, and Monday, November 9, each day at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM). The All Souls’ Day packets were mailed to members and friends of the parish in early October. You may also send your prayer requests via e-mail. The envelope enclosed in the All Souls’ Day packet may be mailed back to the parish or placed in the offering basket at any Mass.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . Sunday, October 25, 10:00 AM, Arch Room, Mission House, Second Floor, Adult Forum: “The Two Michelangelos, Part IV”—in the final session of this four-part series, Father Jay Smith will discuss the work of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, that great Italian painter of the early Baroque period, who is known for his striking naturalistic technique, his use of light and dark, and the direct and deeply human power of his religious art. On Sunday, the class will be looking at such paintings as Caravaggio’s Call of Saint Matthew, The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, and The Conversion of Saint Paul . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on October 28 at 7:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will continue its reading of the Book of Isaiah beginning at 41:21 . . . Sundays, November 1, 8, 15, and 22, at 10:00 AM, The Succession Narrative: 2 Samuel 11-20; 1 Kings 1-2, led by Father Peter Powell . . . Sunday, December 6, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will discuss the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd in early Christian art.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street . . . The Saint Mary’s Book Sale continues on Sunday mornings. All proceeds are used to serve those in need, at Saint Mary’s, in our neighborhood, and beyond . . . Need help finding food or know someone who does? Call 1-800-5-HUNGRY (Why Hunger Hotline, Monday–Friday 9:00 AM–6:00 PM EST) or 1-866-3-HUNGRY (USDA National Hunger Hotline, 8:00 AM–8:00 PM EST).
A NEW PRESIDING BISHOP . . . Sunday, November 1, 12:00 PM, Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington (“The National Cathedral”), Holy Eucharist with the Installation of The Right Reverend Michael Bruce Curry as XXVII Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. A live webcast of the liturgy will be available. A video of the installation service will also be posted on YouTube.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . December 3, 2015–January 3, 2016, The Peccadillo Theater Company at Saint Clement’s, 423 West Forty-sixth Street, presents two one-act plays by Thornton Wilder: The Long Christmas Dinner and Pullman Car Hiawatha, directed by Dan Wackerman. Only twenty-four performances! Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 866-811-4111.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, November 1, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass & Blessing of the Vault 6:00 PM . . . November 3 through 6, and 9 at 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM, Annual Parish Requiem Masses . . . Wednesday, November 25, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM.