FROM THE RECTOR: PRIMARY MINISTERS
Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will be away from Saint Mary's from this coming Monday, November 20, until Christmas Eve. Her absence is driven in large part by health issues arising from the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Given this, and given some of my recent experiences worshiping in other Episcopal congregations, I thought it might be helpful to write about who does what in Episcopal Church worship, and why, with reference to Saint Mary's.
When Deacon Weiner Tompkins is away, that leaves Father Jay Smith, Father Jim Pace, Father Matt Jacobson and me, most Sundays, to serve the congregation at the Solemn Mass. In the chancel are the altar servers. In the gallery are the parish musician and the choir. There are ushers. And there is a sexton on duty. But all of us perform these various roles do so to enable the congregation to engage the Word of God, to praise God, to offer thanks, and to share in the Holy Communion. The gathering of the baptized is the gathering of the Body of Christ. The Body's ministers are its servants, not its surrogates.
During my senior year in seminary, I taught a short series of classes on the Eucharist at the parish where I worked on Sunday mornings. One Sunday I spoke about the theological debate about the place of the Nicene Creed in the Eucharist. None of the creeds was part of the Eucharist during the first millennium. I made the point, still true, that the primary creedal statement of the Eucharist is the Great Thanksgiving. At that, an older woman remarked, "But that's the priest's prayer; the creed is our prayer." That spoke loudly to me about the way she had experienced worship. I totally got her point. The parish clergy try very hard to preside in such a way that the words spoken and sung can, in a sense, be said and sung by all. Many Sundays at Solemn Mass, the singing of the Lord's Prayer is where the congregation is leading everything and the body is one. Listen for it.
Liturgical tradition assigns four primary roles to the deacon at Mass: the proclamation of the gospel, the leading of the prayers of the people, the preparation of the gifts, and the ministration of the cup. When there is no deacon able to proclaim the gospel, a priest does that. When no deacon is here to sing the prayers of the people, I prefer that a layperson sing them. If no layperson is available, a priest can do it. In the absence of a deacon, a priest prepares the altar, assisted, of course, by laypersons. When there are not enough deacons and priests to minister Communion, laypersons are ministers of the chalice. Should we not have enough clergy to minister the bread, there is no problem at all with a layperson doing this-it's about serving the needs of the congregation.
Since 2003 a change in the national canon eliminated the following words that stated when lay Eucharistic ministers were appropriate: "in the absence of a sufficient number of Priests or Deacons assisting the celebrant" (Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church , 63). I missed that change entirely; I don't remember it being discussed. I do remember what the rector of the large parish where I worked immediately after ordination used to say, "The congregation is paying for five priests; they should see five priests doing something in church." The church ordains deacons, priests, and bishops to minister the Sacraments-actually doing so is part of fulfilling one's calling as long as one is able. We'll miss Rebecca while she is away. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jerry, Dorothea, Ingrid, Farive, Preston, Marcy, Barbara, Penny, Mike, Dick, Nicholas, Bobby, Gabby, Eleanor, Wendell, José, Noriko, Debbie, Sherri, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, David, Sandy, Dennis, and George; for Monica Clare and Aidan, religious; for Horace, Clayton, Mitties, Anne, David, Gaylord, Harry, Edgar, Louis, and Vern, priests; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 19: 1883 Edith Chapin; 1952 Clara Graham Wallace; 1959 Irene Helen Williams; 1990 Beryl Ermine Whittle.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
SERMONS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . In the transition to the new webpage, it has taken a year for me to get a handle on posting sermons. With the help of proofreader Gypsy da Silva, all but a very few of my 2017 sermons are now online. I think all of Father Powell's 2017 sermons are up. I now feel as if I can ask my other colleagues for theirs-and I will. -S.G.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Four weeks ago we kicked off our 2018 Stewardship Campaign, sending stewardship packets to nearly 1,000 members and friends of Saint Mary's. The Campaign has gotten off to a promising start. Some statistics: as of Wednesday, November 15, we have received 52 pledges and $199,760.00 has been pledged. This is 47% of our pledge goal of $425,000.00. Nearly 35.2% of those who pledged for 2017 made pledges for 2018 during the first week of the Campaign.
Between now and November 26, Commitment Sunday, we have set three goals: (1) to encourage all Saint Marians prayerfully to consider how they can offer their time, talent, and treasure to God here at Saint Mary's during the coming year; (2) to reach $425,000 in pledges; and (3) to have all those who made a pledge for 2017 to fulfill that pledge no later than December 31, 2017.
To make a pledge for 2018, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are extraordinarily grateful to all those who made pledges for 2017 and to those who have already made a pledge for 2018. To learn more about stewardship or the Stewardship Campaign, please speak to Father Gerth or to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, Brendon Hunter, or Marie Rosseels, chair).
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 22 at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. The class will resume on November 29 . . . Wednesday, November 22, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . On Thursday, November 23, Thanksgiving Day, the church will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. The regular noonday services will be offered (Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM; Mass 12:10 PM) . . . Friday, November 24, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor. Please enter at 145 West Forty-sixth Street, just west of the main doors to the church, and press buzzer 1 in the vestibule. Then climb up one flight of stairs, make a U-turn, and climb up another small flight of stairs. The Atrium will be on your left . . . Sunday, November 26, Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King, Commitment Sunday.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B., fell ill this week. She has been resting at the Mission House here at the parish. She has returned to the office for a few hours each day but will continue to limit her activities during the coming week . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett is doing physical therapy and continuing her recuperation at a rehabilitation facility on the Upper East Side . . . Parishioner Penny Allen has returned home after a stay at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch continues to receive treatment on an outpatient basis. He remains at home and has been able to continue many of his volunteer activities here at the parish. He tells us that he is tolerating his treatment well . . . José Vidal continues to recuperate at home following cardiac surgery and is growing stronger every day. Please keep Sister Monica Clare, Barbara, Penny, Dick, and José in your prayers . . . Sunday, November 26, in Saint Joseph's Hall, Sister Laura Katharine's Final Candle Sale. Prepare for Advent and Christmas: Candles are being offered at a steep discount-40% off the original price, with an additional discount if you buy 4 or more candles of any size . . . Father Jim Pace will be away from the parish this weekend, Friday, November 17-Sunday, November 19 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 173.
DIOCESAN CONVENTION . . . You are invited to visit the diocesan website, where you will find information about what took place last Saturday, November 11, at the diocese's annual convention. The text of the bishops' addresses, the results of elections, the text of resolutions passed, the budget, and other information can be read on the website. Many Saint Marians may find the report of the Reparations Committee of some interest. The Committee is planning many events in 2018 for a "Year of Lamentations," which will give New York Episcopalians an opportunity to address the ongoing reality of racism in our nation, city, and church. The Committee will be publishing a monthly newsletter that will provide information about these events. One can subscribe to this newsletter here.
ADULT EDUCATION IN NOVEMBER . . . Father Pete Powell will continue his series on the Gospel According to Matthew on Sunday, November 19, at 10:00 AM, in Saint Benedict's Study . . . On Sunday, December 3, and Sunday, December 10, at 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph's Hall (note location and later start time), parishioner Dr. Mark Risinger will lead the Adult Forum in a discussion of the Passion of Saint Matthew and the Passion of Saint John by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Mass for Four Voices by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). Tallis was one of the most foundational composers of English church music. His long life and musical career included service under four English monarchs-Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I-with all the shifts in the church's liturgical and institutional life that these different reigns occasioned. Tallis's early life is not well documented, but references to his musical employment begin to appear as early as 1532 when he was appointed organist at the Benedictine Priory of Dover. Notably, he was later employed at Canterbury Cathedral and served as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. Along with William Byrd, Tallis enjoyed an exclusive license to print and publish music that was granted by Elizabeth I in 1575. While he was one of the first musicians to compose for the new Anglican rites of the mid-sixteenth century, Tallis retained an affection for the Latin forms and continued to compose extensively for them. Tallis's unnamed Latin Mass for Four Voices probably dates from the 1550s. Its musical style reflects the trend of that time away from very florid liturgical settings and toward syllabic and chordal compositions, favoring clearer declamation of the text.
Clifford Maxwell, a native of Barbados, grew up in Brooklyn and was very active in the New York community of church musicians for many years as he also served as organist and choirmaster at various Episcopal and Lutheran parishes. He composed his setting of two stanzas from George Hugh Bourne's powerful hymn Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor (307 in The Hymnal 1982) in 1949 while under the tutelage of Harold Friedell at Saint Bartholomew's Church, Manhattan. Maxwell's setting, sung on Sunday morning during the ministration of communion, is more reflective than triumphal in responding musically to the image of the risen enthroned Christ.
In a comparatively short lifetime, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, pianist, and organist. His foundational music studies in Berlin were followed by travel in England, Scotland, Italy, and France before he was appointed music director in Düsseldorf in 1833. Two years later he became conductor of the Gewandhaus concerts in Leipzig where, together with Schumann and others, he founded the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1842. His 1829 Leipzig performance of the St. Matthew Passion helped inspire the general revival of the music of J. S. Bach (1685-1750). His contributions as a composer span the categories of orchestral, choral, stage, chamber, piano, and vocal, in addition to organ works. Mendelssohn's six organ sonatas were composed between 1839 and 1844. The organ voluntaries this morning comprise Mendelssohn's fifth organ sonata, that is essentially a one-movement work in three distinct sections. Sunday morning's prelude is the first two sections: a hymn-like beginning followed by a short scherzo in the relative minor key of B. The grand final section will be played as the postlude. -David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for November 18 and December 6, our next two Drop-in Days. We need blankets, razors, and shaving cream. We also need packs of new underwear for both women and men, in all sizes; and very shortly we will need cold-weather clothing such as coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, gloves, boots, and sweatshirts. Such basic items are proving to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . Attorneys from the New York Legal Assistance Group have volunteered to host a Legal Aid Day for our Homeless Ministry on Wednesday, December 6, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in the Mission House. The attorney volunteers will dispense legal advice, along with clothes and toiletries . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We also continue to receive nonperishable food items for our outreach partner, Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Please place those items in the basket near the ushers' table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
RECITALS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Friday, December 8, 2017, 5:30 PM, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dr. Keith Reas, director of music, Saint Paul's Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee . . . Friday, January 5, 2018, 5:30 PM, Eve of the Epiphany, Stephen Rumpf, New York City . . . Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:30, The Presentation: Candlemas, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Church of the Transfiguration, New York City.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, November 18, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents Vox Luminis: Royal Funeral Music . . . Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre presents The Tallis Scholars: Heinrich Isaac at 500. Visit the Miller Theatre website for more information and to purchase tickets . . . Saturday, December 9, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, Program: Rosenhaus: Overture from "The Inspector General"; Kabalevsky: Cello Concerto No. 1 in G minor; Schumann: Symphony No. 3 ("Rhenish"). Visit the NYRO website for information and to buy tickets.
LOOKING AHEAD. . . Sunday, December 3, The First Sunday of Advent . . . Thursday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM. The canticles will be sung by members of the Choir of Saint Mary's . . . Friday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM (the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, celebrant and preacher) . . . Thursday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass and Healing Service 12 . . . Sunday, December 24, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music for Congregation & Choir 4:30 PM, Sung Mass 5:00 PM; Music for Congregation & Choir 10:30 PM, Procession and Solemn Mass 11:00 PM . . . Monday, December 25, Christmas Day, Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . Upcoming Exhibition at the Met Fifth Avenue and the Met Cloisters, May 10-October 8, 2018, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. From the museum website, "The Costume Institute's spring 2018 exhibition-at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters-will feature a dialogue between fashion and religious artworks from the The Met collection to examine the relationship between creativity and the religious imagination. Serving as the cornerstone of the exhibition, papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside The Vatican, will be on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Fashions from the early twentieth century to the present will be shown in The Met's Medieval and Byzantine galleries and at The Met Cloisters alongside religious artworks, to provide an interpretative context for fashion's engagement with Catholicism."
CLICK HERE for this week's schedule.