The Angelus

VOLUME 17, NUMBER 49

FROM THE RECTOR: ALL SAINTS’ DAY

 

Massey Shepherd (1913–1990) wrote about the collect for All Saints’ Day composed by Thomas Cranmer for the first Book of Common Prayer, “It is one of the most characteristic expressions of the doctrine of the Church, both visible and invisible, in all of the Prayer Book. The basic theme is Saint Paul’s conception of the Church as ‘the Body of Christ’ ” (Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary [1950]). It is a powerful and beautiful prayer. Here is the collect in contemporary English:

 

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP, 245).

 

The appointed preface for use with our Eucharistic Prayer on All Saints’ Day dates only from 1928, but it too is powerful and beautiful. Again, in contemporary English:

 

For in the multitude of your saints you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses, that we might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us; and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away. (BCP, 380).

 

Jesus had said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (Mark 9:1). But Jesus did not return after his ascension as expected. Instead, the Acts of the Apostles recounts the executions of Stephen and James. The roots of what will become our commemoration of All Saints lie in the early days of the Christian community and the executions of believers by the Roman government. But, just as Jesus could not be held by his crucifixion, his body, the church, continued to grow despite the persecution of believers.

 

The New Testament church and the Christian community shared a sense of what this “mystical body” was that seems to have been different from what would come later. Well-known liturgists Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson write, “Cyrille Vogel noted that up until the middle of the second century ancient burial inscriptions reveal that Christians prayed both for and to deceased Christians, whether they were martyrs or not” (Origins [2011], 179–80).

 

As the decades of the early Christian Era passed, martyrs took on a new significance in Christian consciousness. From the first, this included reverence for the bodies of those who had died (Acts 8:2). The physical relics of martyrs would take on increasing importance, spiritually and, most regrettably, financially. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the invocation of saints and the veneration of their relics would disappear from the Church of England. These ancient devotions will begin to reappear in the nineteenth century in the wake of the Oxford Movement.

 

Care for the living also marked the communities of Christians from the beginning. Jesus said, “By this all men and women will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthians about how Christians treated one another still call us to a generous relationship whenever it is needed. Our lives in Christ, our lives of witness, that is, martyria—witness, to him begin in the waters of baptism. The celebration of All Saints’ embraces you, me, and all who have gone before. —Stephen Gerth

 

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Lisa, Sally, Barbara, Eugene, Susan, Yves, Nargis, Sam, Peggy, Maxine, Veronica, Jean, JoAnn, Quinn, Mala, Mark, Gerry, Kenneth, Heidi, Rasheed, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, José, Pamela, religious, Sidney, deacon, Erika, priest, Paulette, priest, Gaylord, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 1: 1891 Stephen Standard Eyre; 1918 Jessie Wilson; 1925 Harry Taylor; 1960 David Lane Smith; 1961 Alice L. Snyder; 1997 Mark Hamilton; 2014 John E. Knight.

 

THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.

 

ALL SOULS’ DAY . . . On Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, we remember those who have died whom we have known and loved. Morning Prayer is sung. The 12:10 Eucharist is a Sung Mass. At 6:00 PM there is a Solemn Mass. As the Solemn Mass ends, the clergy and congregation process to the Lady Chapel to pray for the souls of those whose ashes repose in the vault. At the Masses on All Souls’ Day we remember by name those of our parish community who have died this year. As is our custom, we remember by name departed loved ones at weekday Masses—please see the parish calendar for the schedule. (The departed are remembered at Mass according to the schedule by the last name of the person making the intention.)

 

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 . . . Wednesday, November 4, 7:00 PM (note later time), Saint Joseph’s Hall, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class . . . On Saturday, October 31, and on Saturday, November 7, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith

 

AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sunday, November 1, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make Oktoberfest a great success last Saturday evening. We had an array of delicious things to eat; conversation was lively; it was good to have some time to spend time with fellow parishioners and their friends; and we had a rousing, even inspiring, hour of hymn-singing under the direction of our talented music director, Simon Whalley . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett underwent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Friday, October 23. She is now at Amsterdam House, across from the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, for some days of physical therapy . . . Mother Paulette Schiff, a former assisting priest here, had surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital on Thursday, October 22. We expect that she will be returning to her home on Long Island this week for a period of postoperative recuperation. Please keep Barbara and Paulette in your prayers . . . Altar flowers are needed 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 . . . The Rector will be away on behalf of the parish from Saturday, November 7, until Tuesday evening, November 10 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 199.

 

FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . All Saints’ Day: The text for the motet at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the antiphon to the Magnificat at the Second Vespers for All Saints’ Day. It gives a rich vision of all the saints in heaven, robed in white and rejoicing with Christ, following “the Lamb wherever he goes.” It is hard to imagine more exhilarating words than these—so poetic a vision for so festive a day—to set to music. The response of Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548–1611) published in 1572 as the first in his hugely successful collection of motets is both fitting and thrilling. He uses the opening exclamation to build up over three chords toward the quam, the Latin adverb that Victoria uses in this setting to emphasize just how glorious Christ’s reign is. In the exchange between voices that follows, the joy of the saints in glory is evoked with the in quo and the rising gaudent acclamations seemingly ricocheting off one another. At the close of the motet the imagery of the saints following the Lamb is suggested with a simple descending line that each voice part takes up, following one after another. It is no surprise, then, that Victoria chose to use the rich seam of material from the motet as the basis for the “parody Mass” that we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. Small motivic ideas and even textural contrasts from the motet generate a great deal of the material for the setting of the Mass ordinary. You might notice the descending sequuntur theme appearing in different guises at the start of the Benedictus and Agnus Dei, and the energetic close of the Gloria points to the most rejoicing music at the heart of the motet. What exultant music for this great day! . . . All Souls’ Day: The plainchant melodies of the Requiem Mass are among the most well-known in the Liber usualis, the encyclopedic book of Gregorian chant that provides music for all of our sung propers and other important liturgical texts. These Requiem chants have a reflective dignity and a wealth of expressive contours that capture convincingly our emotional response to this somber day. In years to come we shall doubtless sing settings of these texts by composers such as Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986)—whose accompanied setting explicitly quotes the melodies we shall hear today—or the rich, thick textures of the setting by Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548–1611); but how refreshing it is to hear the melodies in their unadorned simplicity as they were first sung centuries ago. The communion motet is a setting of the visionary text of Edmund Spenser (1552–1599) by the British composer William H. Harris (1883–1973). —Simon Whalley

 

ADULT EDUCATION . . . 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. Father Powell writes, “This series will ask the question, ‘What does it mean to be faithful when one has power?’ The Succession Narrative has much to say to Christians who live in a nominally Christian society . . . What does the Bible have to say about being faithful when one is in the majority and does not belong to an oppressed minority? . . . This year, both on most of the Sundays in November and during Lent, we will explore the story of the transfer of power from David to Solomon during a time of disunity and political stress. Examining this history may help us to think about our own situation during this particular moment of discord and political polarization” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on November 4 at 7:00 PM (note later time), in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will continue its reading of the Book of Isaiah beginning at 42:14 . . . Sunday, December 6, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will discuss the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd in early Christian art . . . Sunday, December 13, Father Jay Smith will discuss the Icon of Christ Pantokrator (“Almighty” or “All-powerful”) . . . January 10 and 17, Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will lead the class in a discussion of Episcopal polity and governance. (This will be a very useful class for those preparing for Confirmation or Reception, as well as for those who want to learn more about what our church believes and how it works.) In this series, Canon Barlowe will address such topics as the workings of General Convention, legislation passed at this summer’s convention in Salt Lake City, the role of the Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the mechanism for electing a Presiding Bishop in our church.

 

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).

 

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