The Angelus

Volume 18, Number 37



On Easter Day, April 18, 1965, the bulletin for the “High Mass,” as it was then called at Saint Mary’s, records the occasion when, for the first time, the Lord’s Prayer was sung by the congregation at the main service. Until that time, only the celebrant chanted it. Father Donald Garfield was the new rector. He had begun his ministry here on February 1, 1965. But an even more important change would come on Sunday, May 2, 1965: the congregation would be invited to receive communion at the 11:00 AM service. From the foundation of the parish until then, the main Sunday service was what was called a “noncommunicating High Mass”—at which only the celebrant received communion. Some will not know that the altar rail is removable and was removed for these Masses at which no one but the celebrant received communion.


Jesus said, “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52). The Anglo-Catholic movement recovered many treasures for the Anglican tradition, but it made a huge mistake about the Eucharist. Western Christians had forgotten that the Eucharist was from the beginning a meal, a very special one for believers, to be sure, but, still, a meal—not, as it would later be regarded, a sacrifice and a sacrament, but food. It was the weekly gathering in the name of the Lord where those who had food shared with those who had little.


My Nashotah Seminary classmates and I had heard about noncommunicating Mass at Saint Mary’s because our systematic theology professor, the Reverend James Griffiss (1928–2003), had been assisting at Saint Mary’s in 1965 and living at the rectory. He was an Anglo-Catholic, and he had lots of stories to tell. There’s a recording of Evensong at Saint Mary’s from 1965 on which Father Griffiss was the officiant and McNeil Robinson (1943–2015) was the then-new assistant organist. It was from Jim that we first heard an Anglo-Catholic phrase, “Early Mass for Communion; High Mass for Worship.” Some ate breakfast after receiving communion at an early celebration and then returned for the later service for the sermon (no sermons at the early Masses in those days), the glorious music, and the beautiful ceremony of High Mass.


There is an important group of Medieval documents known as Ordines Romani, that is, “Roman Orders” (of Service). These texts include descriptions of the ceremonies of a variety of liturgical services that were compiled by visitors to Rome over many centuries. As the Christian West rebuilt itself after the collapse of the Roman Empire, these ordos were invaluable to the church.


The oldest of these is known as Ordo Romanus Primus (ORP). The edition I have is: Alan Griffiths, Ordo Romanus Primus: Latin Text and Translation with Introduction and NotesAlcuin/Grow Joint Liturgical Studies 73 (Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2012). Canon Griffiths is a priest of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portsmouth, UK. ORP describes a seventh- or eighth-century papal Mass celebrated on Easter Day at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Along with the usual commentaries and the Didache (about which I wrote last week), I ended up looking at ORP two weeks ago to see what it said about the Lord’s Prayer.


Since ORP is about ceremony and ritual, it mentions only texts that are significant for the ceremony of the service. The offertory for this very large congregation in a large church required many clergy and servers. There was special seating for persons of “senatorial” rank. Men and women sat in different areas, too. There was no mention of incense at the offertory. The Lord’s Prayer isn’t mentioned either—its customary place in the Roman and in our liturgy had been secured by Gregory the Great (c. 540–604). The pope presided facing the people.


ORP describes only one ritual act during the Eucharistic prayer: the writer carefully recorded a showing of the bread and chalice at the end of the prayer of thanksgiving over the bread and the wine. As the concluding doxology of the prayer begins, the archdeacon takes the chalice by its handles and lifts it. At the same time, the pope lifts up “the loaves” and touches the side of the chalice with them as he says, “ ‘through him, and with him, and in him,’ to ‘for ever and ever’, and puts the loaves back in their place” (page 50). Everyone receives the bread (leavened, not wafers) and the wine (through a straw). Canon Griffiths remarks in a footnote:


Also, there is a great deal of breaking of loaves of leavened bread and pouring out and filling small cups (‘gemellions’ [shallow bowls used primarily for handwashing]) for the communion of the people. This sort of liturgy is not for those inclined to be scrupulous about crumbs or the possible spillage of consecrated elements” (n. 24, page 56).


Genuflections after the words over the bread do not begin to appear until the thirteenth century. By then, Mass is no longer about communion, but about seeing the consecrated bread. The chalice doesn’t get a genuflection until the sixteenth century.


I was fond of the advertising campaign the Episcopal Church used back in my seminary days. Others will remember it, I’m sure. One showed Santa and Jesus with the caption, “Whose birthday is it, anyway?” Another showed a television set with the Detroit Lions on the screen, “2000 years later, Christianity’s biggest competition is still the Lions.” I’ll mention just one more ad that I thought was particularly effective: a chalice and some hosts with the caption, “What other meal can sustain you for a week?”


Wafer bread has a certain practical utility for our parish—one never knows how many people will come forward to receive communion. But on Sundays and greater feasts, I plan for us to use real bread—the Saint Gregory’s Abbey recipe (although I think our bakers use honey instead of sugar)—at all of our Eucharists, not just the Solemn and Sung Masses on Sundays and feast days. There will always be hosts for those who need them—and we keep a supply of gluten-free hosts in the sacristy for those who let an usher know in advance that they need them. The Eucharist is about the Shepherd feeding the sheep of his fold. The Eucharist is food and drink. —Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dorothy, Lily, Anne, Ellis, Adoni, Jessica, Sally, Donna, Julie, Abraham, Suzanne, Dominique, Chandra, Charlie, Carolyn, Jean, Barbara, Juliana, Margaret, David, Dolly, Sharon, Penny, Heidi, Catherine, Sally, Donald, Sam, Burton, Toussaint, Dennis, Arpene, Takeem, Sidney, deacon, Horace, Paulette, David, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, priests, and Russell, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Nicholas; and for the repose of the souls of Georges Debruyne and Lionel Kitchingman . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 7: 1900 John Edwin Atkins; 1929 Mary Veronica Rodgers; 1951 Charles R. Graham.


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 . . . Friday, August 5, is the Eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration. There will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. On Saturday, August 6, the Feast itself, Mass will said at 12:10 PM . . . On Wednesdays, the daily 12:10 PM Eucharist is a Sung Mass; on Thursdays the daily 12:10 Eucharist is a Mass with Healing Service.


LOOKING AHEAD . . . The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Monday, August 15, 2016. As is our custom, there will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM. Mr. Stephen Rumpf will play an organ recital at 5:30 PM. The music at the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM will include Missa ‘Assumpta est Maria’ and Assumpta est Maria (for six voices) by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–1594). A reception follows the Solemn Mass in the parish hall . . . Sunday, September 11, 2016, 6:00 PM, Choral Evensong on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Attacks of September 11, 2001. The service will be sung by the Charter Choir of Homerton College, Cambridge, England.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Our annual Assumption Appeal will be mailed to members and friends of the parish this week. We invite you to consider the appeal prayerfully and to be generous . . . Parishioner Abraham Rochester has been transferred to Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plains, New York, for several weeks of physical and occupational therapy. Please keep him and his family in your prayers . . . Sister Monica Clare returns to the parish from vacation on Saturday, August 6. In September, she will begin a two-year, four-semester, part-time certificate program in spiritual direction at the One Spirit Learning Alliance here in New York. She will be taking classes and will be away from the parish one weekend per month from September until June. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Altar Flowers are needed for the following Sundays: August 21 and 28, and September 4 and 18. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Parish Office . . .  The Rector will be away Monday, August 8, on behalf of the parish. He’ll return late Tuesday evening, August 9 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 174.


A NEW WAY TO SUPPORT SAINT MARY’S . . . If you are a frequent shopper on Amazon, you can choose to donate—painlessly and automatically and at no cost to you—0.5% of your purchase price to a charity of your choice, including the Society of the Free Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Detailed instructions are available on the Amazon website. You may contact the parish office for more information.


MUSIC NOTES . . . We welcome Gregg Carder, tenor, as cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. Gregg often sings here at Saint Mary’s. During the administration of communion, Gregg will sing Beata gens. The Mode I plainsong Beata gens is appointed in the Roman Catholic Church as the psalm with this Sunday’s readings. The text of the motet is taken from Psalm 33, verses 12 and 6. Cantor and organist will present this chant in alternatim, meaning that portions of the text and plainsong will be sung in alternation with other portions which will be improvised on the organ . . . Before Mass, Dr. Hurd will play Adagio, BWV 564, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). For the postlude, he will play Dieterich Buxtehude’s Fugue in C, BuxWV 174.


A GENTLE REMINDER . . . As you have read in countless church bulletins, “Our costs do not decrease during the summer months. There are still bills that must be paid.” We urge all those who have made financial pledges to the parish to do their best to stay current with their pledge payments in order to prevent cash-flow problems. We are grateful to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . In anticipation of the inevitable arrival of colder weather, we are collecting warm clothing (coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves). We are also collecting packets of socks and underwear, jeans and T-shirts (useful all-year round), and dress shirts (useful for job interviews). All of these will be distributed here at the parish to those in need. Please bring donations to the parish kitchen on Sunday or contact Father Jay Smith or Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. Sister Monica and parishioners Clint Best and Grace Fernandez have been organizing the clothing in recent weeks in order to expedite distribution. If you would like to volunteer some time to this ministry, please contact Clint Best . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church, 423 West Forty-sixth Street. —Jay Smith


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . The long-anticipated opening of the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., will take place on Saturday, September 24. The museum is a Smithsonian institution so admission is free. Large crowds are expected for the museum’s opening and, no doubt, for some weeks to come. However, if you are planning a trip to the nation’s capital this autumn or in the New Year, this may be a museum that you wish to visit. More information is available here . . . Following Bishop Allen Shin’s advice, Father Jay Smith spent an afternoon, while on vacation, at The Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) located on Atlanta’s historic Auburn Avenue. In addition to the museum, one may also visit Dr. King’s birthplace (reservations are required) and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church. More information is available here . . . And, back here in New York, at the Morgan Library and Museum, Rembrandt’s First Masterpiece: Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver, June 3–September 18, 2016. The Museum is located at 225 Madison Avenue at Thirty-sixth Street.