From the Rector: Easter Triduum
In every part of the world the Church will gather over the Three Days to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. As I write to you on Thursday morning in New York, quiet and not-so-quiet (organ tuning) final preparations are going forward here at the church. Virtually all of the work has already been done. If you are new to Saint Mary’s, you may not realize this parish community organizes its year around these Three Days. We are not and never have been a Christmas Eve parish or an Easter morning parish. We gather to celebrate the Paschal Mystery, Christ’s passing over from death to life. And it takes Three Days.
These great rites of the Christian tradition are celebrated in all of their fullness at Saint Mary’s, but the rites are not at all the point. We are a community of mystery and transcendence. With sign and symbol, the rites help reveal to us the deeper reality we share in Christ. The Church has already received Christ’s Spirit – from the cross in John’s Gospel, fifty days after the resurrection in the Acts of the Apostles. We baptize and gather to renew our baptismal commitment not to give us the Holy Spirit but to help us see more clearly the work the Spirit himself has done and is doing in our lives.
Someone reminded me not so long ago that the word liturgy does not really mean, as is commonly heard, “work of the people,” but in Greek means a public service performed for others. If you get out your dictionary you will certainly find that this is true. Yet, “work of the people” is not a bad gloss if one’s experience of the liturgy is of something done by the assembly, the Body of Christ. The rites cry out for every member of the assembly to experience his or her presence as essential to Christ’s gathered Body.
The first day of the Triduum is brutal. We Episcopalians call it Maundy Thursday. It begins, reckoning time as Jesus did, at sunset. This night Jesus eats his last supper with his friends, is betrayed and then arrested. In the early hours of the morning, he will be condemned. Before the day ends he will be executed and buried.
On this first day we hear John’s gospel at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord. The rites invite us to be what we receive, the Body of Christ, and to do what Jesus told us to do. We respond, as we are able, to his invitation to eat and drink together, to wash one another’s feet and to take up a cross so we may be encouraged to believe and to demonstrate our belief by our love of one another.
On the second day, which the Church observes as sunset begins on Friday, almost no public worship is appointed. Because so many will be unable to attend the customary liturgy of the day at 12:30 PM, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord is repeated at 6:00 PM. On Saturday morning, Morning Prayer is sung. It is not a necessary office. But it provides a convenient starting point for the work that will go into preparing the church for the Great Vigil of Easter. The third great service of the Triduum at Saint Mary’s begins Saturday night at 7:00 PM.
On Easter morning, the usual Masses are offered. If you have attended the Great Vigil and received Holy Communion you may also attend Mass on Easter morning and again receive Communion. Yet, if you have been to the Vigil, an Easter morning Mass is entirely optional from the point of view of the tradition.
As it should be, the best attended Evensong of the year is that of Easter Day. I am so proud that this custom continues so strongly at Saint Mary’s. It’s the only Evensong where the full choir sings. It includes a procession to the font by the ministers of the assembly and sprinkling of the assembly. The New Testament reading at the beginning of the service is John’s account of the Lord appearing to his disciples on the evening of the first Easter Day. The reading at Benediction, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, is Luke’s account of the disciples encountering the Lord on the road to Emmaus. Of all the privileges we have in this parish, there is no greater one than our being able to celebrate this conclusion to the Triduum.
Again, I am writing on the morning of Maundy Thursday. This year the joy of Easter has already kicked in. That happened last Saturday when forty-four members of the parish community showed up to prepare the church for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. There were members of Saint Mary’s Guild and Saint Vincent’s Guild. There were plenty of ordinary members of the parish and many newcomers. There were also a few friends who belong officially to other parishes. The Body of Christ was gathered, as it would gather on a brilliant Palm Sunday. We gather day by day in this place to be a part of the unfolding of God’s plan for the salvation of the world.
I hope you have a very blessed and happy Easter. In my work as rector I try to thank all who make our Easter so rich but I know I can never begin to know everything that so many people do quietly and with such love for each other and for Christ. Yet the signs of such love surround us whenever we gather in this sacred place. Happy Easter. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Brendan, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Judi, Roy, Betty Ann, Deborah, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick, . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 19: 1997 Gudrun Lagergren.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Ethan John Rosenblatt of Brooklyn, New York, and Elizabeth Robin Nolan of Brooklyn, New York. If any of you can show just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the first time of asking. J.R.S.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Please remember to bring a hand bell to the Easter Vigil. (If you are new, trust us, you will want one) . . . The parish office is closed on Monday, April 17. The regular services of the parish are offered . . . Sunday School does not meet again until April 23 . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Flannery O’Connor. The next meeting, on Sunday, April 23, will discuss O’Connor’s short stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Everything that Rises Must Converge . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study does not meet again until Tuesday, April 25, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. We will be reading the Acts of the Apostles throughout Eastertide . . . Attendance last Sunday 504.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . At the Easter Vigil, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in A minor by Harold Darke (1888-1976). An English composer and organist, Darke was organist of Saint Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London for 50 years. He was acting organist of King’s College, Cambridge during the Second World War, substituting for Boris Ord. This work was composed in 1967 for the choir of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York. The anthem at Communion is Sing ye to the Lord by Edward C. Bairstow (1874-1946) . . . At the Solemn Mass on Easter Day, the prelude before Mass is Intermezzo from Symphonie III, Opus 28 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Paschalis (“Easter Mass”) by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594). The Flemish-born Lassus, sometimes called the princeps musicorum or “main writer of music,” was one of the late Renaissance’s most cosmopolitan and respected composers. Much of his training was in Italy; later he worked as Kapellmeister at the court in Munich for almost 40 years. This work for an Easter Day Mass is based upon chants associated with the liturgy. As in all of Lassus’s compositions, the music is always subservient to the meaning of the texts. The motet at Communion is Maria Magdalene by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) . . . The full choir sings for Solemn Paschal Evensong, including Evening Service in C by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) and new settings of O salutaris Hostia and Tantum ergo by the music director. Please come, as well, for the organ recital at 4:30 by associate organist Robert McDermitt. He will play works of Marchand, Bach, Elgar and Willan. Robert McCormick
ANOTHER CONFESSION . . . I’ve just discovered that since I have served as a rector in the Church I have been violating a rubric of the Prayer Book. I really do try to be faithful in following the rules. I have confessed before that I am aware I violate one rubric regularly and that I don’t intend to repent of it. The Prayer Book prescribes that our money offering will be placed on the altar itself along with the bread and wine. As important as our money is, and anyone who knows me knows I care deeply about stewardship, money is not going to go on the altar in any church where I serve as rector. And I just realized while writing today that there’s another rubric I’ve been breaking twice a year for eighteen years. The Prayer Book says specifically that the congregation takes the part of the crowd when the Passion is proclaimed in parts on the Sunday of the Passion and on Good Friday. Well, some members of the congregation do take the part of the crowd, but very few. In this parish the congregation takes the part of our Lord. The assembly is the Body of Christ, not those who called for Jesus’ death. I don’t think I’m going to get in too much trouble over this one or the thing with the money. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Monday Monday in Easter Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Easter Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Easter Week
Thursday Thursday in Easter Week
Friday Friday in Easter Week No Abstinence
Saturday Saturday in Easter Week
Easter Day Masses: The Great Vigil of Easter is celebrated on Saturday, April 15, at 7:00 PM. On Easter Day, the Eucharist is offered at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction is at 5:00 PM.
Easter Week: The parish offers its regular services Monday through Friday. Morning Prayer is at 8:30 AM. Noonday Office is at 12:00 PM. Evening Prayer is at 6:00 PM. Mass is celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
Saturday in Easter Week: The parish clergy do not sit for confessions this Saturday. The Noonday Office is prayed at 12:00 PM. The Mass of the day is offered at 12:10 PM. Evening Prayer is at 5:00 PM. The Sunday Vigil Mass is at 5:20 PM.