FROM THE RECTOR: SHADES OF DEATH
I was celebrant for the noonday services on Thursday, May 18. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The church doors were open. As the congregation began to pray the Regina Coeli before the Noonday Office and the Eucharist, we did not know that a driver heading south on Seventh Avenue had a few minutes earlier made a U-turn. He drove his car into a crowd of people to kill and maim. As Mass ended, my phone started to vibrate-my brother and his wife were checking up on me. Those of us at Mass learned why we had heard so many sirens during the services. There was an immediate response to assist the many who were injured and to care for the body of Alyssa Elsman, the eighteen-year-old woman who was killed.
This kind of evil takes me back to September 11, 2001-not to mention Paris, Nice, Orlando, and San Bernardino, just to mention a very few attacks. I still find myself repeating words to myself and occasionally to others that I used after the attack on the World Trade Center: "If something goes very wrong, there's no place I'd rather be than here in the city." Remembering how the people of this city respond in a crisis helps me push fear out of my immediate consciousness, but sadness still lingers. The newly placed concrete barricades on the corners and streets in Times Square will be a reminder of how evil continues to unfold among us. I don't think I'll be able to think about the murderous rampage in Times Square without thinking of Manchester, United Kingdom. As I write on the Eve of Ascension Day, 22 have died; 20 of the 64 who were injured remain in critical condition. Twelve of them are children.
At the gym this morning, chatting with a friend about all of this, I found myself saying in response to his serious rhetorical question, "What can we really do?" I said we might watch footage of what it really looks like when the evils of terrorism and murder occur. When Allied soldiers in World War II encountered German concentration camps, any doubts they had had about the war and what they had seen and done acquired a non-negotiable moral component: they had been fighting evil. When groups of Germans were forced to enter the camps together to see what had been done there and to work in the aftermath of the evacuation of the camps, they too could no longer hide from each other about the reality of evil that had enveloped their nation.
I encountered my very favorite version of Psalm 23 when I entered seminary. It's the paraphrase by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)-a British Nonconformist, not an Anglican-that is set to the tune Resignation. It begins, "My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is his name." (I know, "Jehovah" is a rendering for "Yahweh," not universally beloved, but that's a subject for another day.) I've let it run through my mind, as it were, since Thursday, along with another hymn that I turn to when my soul is weary, "How firm a foundation," whose author is unknown. It's now set to the tune Foundation. These are both American tunes that spring from the a cappella singing tradition that was widespread in the nineteenth century and continues today.
I would like to conclude with a verse from each of these hymns. From the latter, its fifth verse from The Hymnal 1982: "The soul that to Jesus hath fled for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake, I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake" (No. 636). From the former, its second verse: "When I walk through the shades of death, thy presence is my stay; one word of thy supporting breath drives all my fears away. Thy hand in sight of all my foes, doth still my table spread; my cup with blessings overflows, thy oil anoints my head" (No. 664). -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ivy, Vera, Ralph, Valencia, Stephen, Cathy, William, Phyllis, John, Rita, Grady, Clint, Michael, Charlie, Robert, Rick, Patricia, Primi, Jerry, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, George; Sidney, deacon; Horace, Ross, Mitties, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, violence, and disaster; all those who died or were injured in Manchester on Monday; and the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 28: 1888 Russell E. Glover; 1917 Willett Bronson; 1925 Honor Kane Anderson; 1931 Louis Claude Craig, Joseph Gayle Hurd Barry, priest and rector of this parish; 2007 Eileen Louise Whittle.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . May 28, 2017, The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, May 31, 2017,
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on May 31. The class resumes on June 7.
HOMELESS MINISTRY: DONATIONS NEEDED . . . Our new clothes closet for the homeless and others in need has been quite successful, so successful in fact that we hope to receive donations of new or lightly used clothing items for distribution. Warm-weather items are particularly needed at the moment, but we are happy to receive winter clothing as well. We also welcome donations of the following items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand wipes, wash cloths, blankets, socks, and unopened packets of underwear for both men and women. Thank you so much to all those, both near and far, who have been supporting this ministry.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Dr. Mark Risinger is a member of the parish, a former member of the parish's board of trustees, and a member of the choir. He teaches music at Saint Bernard's School on East Ninety-eighth Street. Mark did graduate work in musicology at Harvard University, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the compositional technique of George Frideric Handel. On June 7, Mark will be in Halle, Germany, delivering a paper on "Handel's Compositional Method and Its Interpretations" at an international academic conference on the occasion of the Handel Festival in Halle, sponsored by the Georg Friedrich Händel Society. We are proud of his accomplishments and wish him safe travels . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Friday, May 26. He returns on Friday evening, June 2 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 204.
AIDS WALK 2017 . . . On Sunday, May 21, 2017, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, supported by their friends and fellow parishioners, joined the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk in Central Park-a little bit late. The Team got to the Park at around 1:30 PM, after Solemn Mass and a quick lunch. Once again the Team has done a remarkable job of fundraising. As of Thursday morning, May 25, the Team has raised $49,407.50, which puts them sixth among all the teams that walked on Sunday. The Team very much hopes to be able to break the $50,000.00 mark. Donations may be received until June 16. You can contribute by clicking here. If you would like to donate by writing a check, please make the check paid to the order of AIDS Walk New York. Then, please give the check to the curate or to one of the team leaders. If you have any questions, please contact Father Jay Smith or Team co-leaders MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays and holy days: July 9 and 23, August 6 (Transfiguration), August 20 and 27, and all the Sundays in September. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5839 or by e-mail. We are grateful to all those who support the ministry of the Flower Guild so faithfully.
ADULT EDUCATION . . .The Adult Forum has begun its summer recess. Classes will resume in the autumn. We are grateful to all those who taught, attended, and contributed to our classes this year . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on May 31, the Feast of the Visitation. Class resumes on Wednesday, June 7 . . . Coming Up . . . 2017 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. We will be looking at the Reformation-its history, its theology, and its social and cultural effects-in a number of ways during the coming season. In October, Grace Mudd will teach a series on the Reformation, using music as a way to understand the theological concerns of the Reformers and of those who came to see themselves as Reformed or Evangelical Christians. Later in the autumn, Mark Risinger will follow up on Grace's series with two classes on J. S. Bach's Passion of Saint Matthew and his Passion of Saint John. Please stay tuned!
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . Exhibition in the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall,
Carlos Arteaga: Paintings and Drawings, May 6-June 4, 2017. In order to make an appointment to view the exhibition Monday through Saturday, please contact curator José Vidal. For more information, please visit the artist's website.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Mass for Five Voices of William Byrd (1543-1623). Byrd composed settings of the Latin Mass for three, four, and five voices. The Mass for Five Voices probably dates from about 1594 and was the last of the three to be composed. Its voicing is the most expansive, having two tenor parts, but its movements are the most concise of the three Byrd Masses. The whole business of Latin Masses in post-Reformation England needed to be a somewhat clandestine matter to protect those involved from the possibility of arrest. This being the case, Byrd's part books were undated and without title page or preface, nor was the printer (Thomas East) identified. Fortunately, Byrd's settings survived the period in which their performance-if not their very existence-was illegal, and now they are rightly regarded as great treasures of Western music. Composed with the Continental Tridentine liturgy in mind, Byrd's Masses were also influenced by the pre-Reformation works of such English masters as John Taverner (c. 1490-1545), Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1573), John Sheppard (c. 1515-1558), and Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). The several movements of Byrd's Mass for Five Voices are linked by recurring freely composed themes.
The motet sung during the administration of Communion is also by William Byrd. Non vos relinquam orphanos, often sung in English as I will not leave you comfortless, is a Magnificat antiphon for first Vespers of Pentecost. The text source is John 14:18 and 16:22. Byrd's setting, first published in the second book of his Gradualia (1607), is, like today's Mass setting, also for five voices. The organ prelude is the first movement of L'Ascension by Olivier Messiaen (1902-1992). Born in Avignon, son of the poet Cécile Sauvage, Messiaen was a student of Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory where he became professor of musical analysis, philosophy, and aesthetics in 1942. His legendary tenure as titular organist of Trinité, Paris, began in 1931. The brilliant light and vivid colors of this magnificent church proved a defining stimulus to Messiaen's musical imagination for sixty years.
The majesty of Christ asking that the Father glorify him is the first of the four movements of L'Ascension. This movement, like the fourth, was originally scored for orchestra in 1933 and transcribed by the composer for the organ later the same year. It carries the text from the Gospel according to John, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your son as your son has glorified you." The organ postlude is from the Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") of J. S. Bach (1685-1750), a collection of forty-six short but masterful pieces based on chorales for the liturgical year, mostly composed between 1708 and 1717 while Bach was court organist in Weimar. -David Hurd
LOOKING AHEAD . . .Wednesday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, June 4, The Day of Pentecost . . . Sunday, June 11, Trinity Sunday . . . Monday, June 12, Saint Barnabas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, June 18, Corpus Christi . . . Friday, June 23, Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday Schedule.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Onassis Cultural Center New York, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, New York City: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC - AD 200. On view through June 24, 2017, exclusively at the Onassis Cultural Center New York, where admission is always free, the exhibition brings together more than 130 masterpieces from some of the world's leading museums-including the Acropolis Museum, Athens; National Archaeological Museum, Athens; Musée du Louvre, Paris; British Museum, London; and Musei Vaticani, Vatican City-to explore the ideas and attitudes of people in classical antiquity toward emotion and the ways in which the emotions were depicted, revealing how some are strikingly familiar to us and some shockingly alien . . . At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue at Eighty-second Street, Gallery 621, Second Floor, April 11-July 9, Caravaggio's Last Two Paintings, from the museum website, "The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, the last documented painting by the great Caravaggio (1573-1610), will be on exceptional loan from the Banca Intesa Sanpaolo in Naples and presented with another of the artist's final works, The Met's The Denial of Saint Peter, created in the last months of [the painter's] life. These two extraordinary paintings have not been shown together since 2004, in an exhibition in London and Naples devoted to the artist's late work. Caravaggio's Last Two Paintings will offer a rare opportunity to see these pictures side by side and to examine the novelty of Caravaggio's late style, in which the emphasis is less on the naturalistic depiction of the figures and more on their psychological presence."