FROM FATHER SMITH: THINGS TO COME
It is a rainy and muggy day here in New York as I sit down to work on this edition of the newsletter. Friends from England report that it has been chilly in London, but not here in New York, not yet. Still, there are signs of autumn in the air at Saint Mary’s, despite the late-summer heat. The Stewardship Committee is hard at work on the fall campaign. The Capital Campaign Committee has also been busy, preparing for a launch toward the end of the year.
Father Gerth and I, and the other members of the staff, including our new organist and music director, Simon Whalley, are trying to get ready for the 2015–2016 season that begins on the first Sunday in October. October 4 is the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, though we will no doubt also whisper a prayer or two to Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast day normally falls on the fourth. On that day our summer worship schedule comes to an end: Matins will be sung at 8:30 AM. The parish choir will return for the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. The Mass setting will be the Missa brevis of Andrea Gabrieli (1510–1586). The motet during Communion will be a setting of the Ave Maria by Robert Parsons (c. 1535–1571), an English composer of the Tudor period; and we will once again offer Solemn Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 PM on Sunday. This will be our worship schedule until Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2016.
I’ve also been working to finalize the adult-education schedule for fall and early winter. As I reported in last week’s newsletter, on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM during the month of October, Dr. Dennis Raverty (October 4 & 11) and I (October 18 & 25), will discuss the work of “the two Michelangelos,” Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564), famed painter and sculptor of the Italian Renaissance, and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), the great Italian painter of the early Baroque period. We hope to learn something about our faith by comparing these two very different artists, both of whom created powerful, well-known pieces of religious art. What should a saint look like? What should images of Jesus look like? How do you tell a biblical story using paint and stone? How has art been used to teach and inspire?
Following the October series, the Adult Forum will focus once again on the Bible. On November 1, 8, 15, and 22, and then on the Sundays in Lent, Father Peter Powell will be teaching a class on the portion of 2 Samuel and 1 Kings known as the Succession Narrative. 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 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.”
Following the Thanksgiving break, seminarian Matthew Jacobson will teach a class (December 6) on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in early Christian art. This image was the most common way of portraying Christ during the first four centuries of the church’s life. The following week (December 13) we will look at a very different image: Byzantine icons of Christ Pantokrator (“All-mighty” or “All-powerful”). Comparing these two images may teach us something about our own images of Christ, as well as the church’s evolving proclamation about Jesus Christ’s work and person.
Following the Christmas break, on January 10 and 17, Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will talk to the class about how the national church is structured and governed. Canon Barlowe will be coming to us after having organized and guided this summer’s General Convention in Salt Lake City. We hope that he will walk us through the national church’s electoral and legislative procedures. However, the class will be more than just an ecclesiastical civics lesson. We will also get an overview of the state of the Episcopal Church at the present moment and consider where our church might be headed.
Later in January and in early February, on dates still to be determined, we will welcome two other guest speakers in the Adult Forum. New parishioner Lorna Woodham will speak to the class about a topic much in the news these days: patterns of incarceration in the United States and the effects those patterns have on family life and the wider social fabric. Lorna is a middler in the combined M.Div./M.S.W. program at the Union Theological Seminary. The class will also have a chance to meet and hear the Reverend Jake Dell talk about evangelism in our digital age. Father Dell works at the Episcopal Church Center. His title is a long one, but what he does is help the church to use digital media to get its message across. He believes deeply that the Episcopal Church has something to say and something to offer, and he wants to get that message out. Father Powell will then continue his series on the Sundays in Lent, beginning on February 14. We will announce the Eastertide class schedule shortly.
I am very pleased that such an interesting, diverse, and capable group of teachers has agreed to lead the Adult Forum this year. They have a variety of gifts and exercise a range of ministries. I hope that they will help us on our own journeys as we try to discern what God is calling us to do in our parish and in the world. The Adult Forum meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. —Jay Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Peggy, Dianne, Vicki, Maxine, Veronica, Jean, Priscilla, JoAnn, Quinn, Dick, Mala, Mark, Natasha, Gerry, Kenneth, Yves, Heidi, Nancy, Rasheed, Linda, Sam, Catherine, Babak, Mazdak, Trevor, David, Abalda, Takeem, Arpene, Pamela, religious, Sidney, deacon, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the repose of the souls of John Scott and Bob Gordon; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 13: 1898 Susan Ann Widmayer; 1917 Jacob Vetter; 1918 Matthew Carey; 1940 Faith Ralph; 1944 Emma Schneider Snyder; 2009 Thomas O’Rourke.
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 . . . Monday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM, sermon by the Reverend Dr. Mitties DeChamplain . . . On Saturday, September 12, confessions will be heard by Father Jim Pace. On Saturday, September 19, confessions will be heard by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, September 5, at 3:00 PM in the Lady Chapel, Barbara and Gerald Gould renewed their marriage vows. Father Jay Smith was the officiant. Jerry is a member of the parish, and he and Barbara live in Tenafly, New Jersey, and Ithaca, New York. They celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at the end of August. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch has continued to improve rapidly following surgery and several weeks of physical therapy at Amsterdam House. We expect that he will be returning home soon. Please keep him in your prayers . . . We’ve recently had visits from several longtime friends of Saint Mary’s. Father Alan Moses and his wife Theresa Moses have been in New York and staying in the Rectory. Father Moses is the vicar of All Saints, Margaret Street, London. Mrs. Moses is on the administrative staff of the diocese of London. Father David Wood is the rector of the Anglican Parish of Fremantle in the diocese of Perth, Australia. Like Father Moses, he has often visited Saint Mary’s and has preached here on a number of occasions. He will be staying at Saint Mary’s until the end of September. It has been lovely to have such good friends with us once again . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 14 (not October 7, as reported in last week’s newsletter), at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class will continue its reading of the Book of Isaiah, beginning at chapter 40 . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish at a Leadership in Ministry conference from the afternoon of Sunday, September 20, until Tuesday, September 22. He will return to the parish on Wednesday, September 23 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 212; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 57.
FROM THE ORGANIST & MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The poet Christopher Smart (1722–1771) might forever have remained little known and rarely read were it not for the interest of English composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976). In 1942 Britten was commissioned by Walter Hussey (1909–1985), who was then the Vicar of Saint Matthew’s Church in Northampton, a town about sixty-five miles northwest of London, to write a work celebrating the parish’s fiftieth anniversary. At that time Britten was exploring the poetry of a number of lesser-known writers—he was an avid reader—and he chose to set a series of verses from “Jubilate Agno” by Smart for choir, organ, and soloists. Born of a wealthy family, Smart won a scholarship to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge, UK. Thereafter, he spent much of his early life as a writer and translator. For various reasons he accumulated serious debts, and his bizarre behavior, triggered by intense religious devotion, caused him to be confined to a lunatic asylum in 1757. While he was there, accompanied only by his cat Jeoffry, he wrote the lengthy poem, “Jubilate Agno.” The poet’s remarkably colorful life is reflected in his eccentric and engaging poetry. A number of creatures are viewed as reflections of God’s glory, and chief among these is Jeoffry. Britten sets these verses in his musical setting with a frisky organ part, perhaps emulating a cat playfully trying to catch a thread from a ball of wool. Soprano Sharon Harms will sing this section of the piece as our Communion anthem at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. Hussey’s legacy to church music was remarkable. He left Northampton when appointed Dean of Chichester Cathedral, UK, and while there he also commissioned the Chichester Psalms from New Yorker Leonard Bernstein. The organ postlude on Sunday, the Gavotte from the Concerto in G minor of Matthew Camidge (1758–1844), suggests a Georgian gentility. —Simon Whalley
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 . . . 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 . . . Saturday, September 12, 11:00 AM, Solemn Funeral Liturgy for John Scott, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City. The Fifth Avenue doors of the church, which is located between Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth Streets, will open at 9:00 AM on Saturday. Mr. Scott was organist and director of music of Saint Thomas Church and its Choir School from 2004 until the time of his sudden and unexpected death on August 12, 2015 . . . Sunday, September 13, 5:15 PM, John Scott Memorial Recital, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City. The recitalists are Saint Thomas’s own Stephen Buzard, acting director of music, and Benjamin Sheen, acting organist. Stephen and Benjamin will present a recital in memory of John Scott, which will include some of Mr. Scott’s favorite works for organ and also a new work written specially in memory of Mr. Scott by the English composer, Andrew Carter. The program will last around forty-five minutes and will include music by Mendelssohn, Buxtehude, Duruflé, Demessieux, and Whitlock.