FROM THE RECTOR: REVISING THE PRAYER BOOK
The Anglican Theological Review (Summer 2017) has published an important article, "Revising the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer (1979): Liturgical Theologians in Dialogue," by Scott MacDougall, Ruth Meyers, and Louis Weil. This article is available online to non-subscribers here. Scott MacDougall is an assistant professor of theology at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Ruth Meyers is Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics there, and Louis Weil, now retired, is professor emeritus in the chair now held by the Reverend Dr. Meyers. The article is very much worth reading for what it says and doesn't say.
Dr. MacDougall introduces and concludes the responses of Dr. Meyers and the Reverend Dr. Weil to the action of the 2015 General Convention to ask the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare a plan for revising the Prayer Book. Fine. Prayer Books are not for ever. But I'm glad that neither Dr. Meyers nor Dr. Weil think our church is ready to revise the book beginning in 2018. I fear that the next General Convention will not only authorize the revision of the Prayer Book, but also, and of far greater significance, authorize the admission of non-baptized persons to receive Holy Communion. The House of Bishops came within two votes of voting in favor of this at the 2015 General Convention.
Dr. Meyers wants far more "inclusive and expansive" language in a new book and more emphasis on environmental concerns in the prayers of the church. Dr. Weil is among those who thinks church needs to continue to live into the theological work that shaped the 1979 Prayer Book before it can wisely and pastorally undertake revision. There is great validity to the points that they make. But, with great and sincere respect, I think both would agree there is more to be said.
Neither Meyers nor Weil addresses directly the major theological issues a revision of the Prayer Book will face. Let me acknowledge that I am not a trained theologian, but I think it is fair to say that among the significant and unaddressed issues in this article are (1) the use of traditional Trinitarian language in our common prayer, (2) the non-canonical, but now widespread practice of inviting non-baptized persons to receive the Holy Communion, and (3) what theological changes in these two areas will mean for our relationship to the wider Anglican and Christian community.
Christian prayer is normatively addressed to God the Father, through God the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Reverend Dr. Ralph N. McMichael, Jr., a systematic theologian, who served as an instructor in liturgics at Nashotah House, suggested in an essay that our Eucharistic Prayers, for example, might find appropriate ways to use both traditional and expansive language in our common prayers ("How Are We to Name the Trinity in Our Eucharistic Prayers," How Shall We Pray: Expanding Our Language About God, ed. Ruth Meyers , 113-22). I think he's probably right.
If memory serves, at the last conference of the priests of the diocese of New York, Bishop Dietsche said he thought that 70% of the congregations of our diocese invite anyone who wants to receive Communion to do so. I was stunned. I know that United Methodists do this, many congregations of the United Church of Christ do it, and, it seems, many American Episcopalians, but almost no other denomination with which I am familiar. The Reverend Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller, a priest of the Episcopal Church, now Huron-Lawson Professor of Liturgy at Huron University College, University of Western Ontario, asks the question, "How did we get to a place where we blithely espouse a baptismal ecclesiology [that is, a theology of "church"] without Baptism?" ("Baptismal Ecclesiology without Baptism?," Drenched in Grace, ed. L. Larson-Miller and W. Knowles , 84). It's a great question, and I think it should be answered before any more trial liturgies are unleashed on the church. -Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Barbara, Michael, Dick, William, Karl, David, Sandy, Pearl, Donald, Patricia, Dorothea, Olutoyin, Eugenia, Peggy, Kathy, Mike, May, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, and George; for Matthew, Horace, Mitties, Scott, Anne, David, Ross, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, Edgar, and Vern, priests; for all victims of poverty, famine, violence, and disaster, especially the people of Texas, Louisiana, the Caribbean, Florida, and Mexico; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 17: 1946 Stanley Nelson.
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 . . . Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 PM, Bible Study Class, Saint Benedict's Study . . . Thursday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Mass and Healing Service 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Friday, September 22, 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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch is now at home continuing his recuperation after a recent fall. He was able to attend Father Jacobson's ordination at the Cathedral last Saturday and was at the noon Mass on Tuesday, September 12 . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital last weekend for tests and physical therapy. On Tuesday, September 12, she moved to the Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 211 East Seventy-ninth Street for physical therapy. Please keep Barbara and Dick in your prayers . . . Father Jay Smith will be away this weekend on retreat. He will be back in the office on Monday, September 18 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday: 143; Holy Cross Day 102.
AN UPDATE . . . Parishioner Emilie Williams gave birth to a son, Ellis Michael Williams, on the evening of August 19, 2017, in Urbana, Illinois. At his birth, Ellis was 10 lbs and 11 oz. Mother, son, and father, Geoffrey Williams, continue to do well. Geoff provided us with an update this week, "Doing well. Wouldn't be doing as well as we are, if Emilie's folks hadn't moved here-into the other side of our duplex no less! Emilie is killing it as a grad student and I'm nearing completion of my degree. We miss our Saint Mary's family . . . All good wishes to our friends in the city!" Please keep the Williams family in your prayers.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . .The cantor at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is bass-baritone Jeremy Hirsch, who has sung regularly in the Saint Mary's Choir for over a year. During the ministration of Communion he will sing the aria Gott, sei mir gnädig from the oratorio Paulus by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Mendelssohn's knowledge of the oratorios of Handel and devotion to the great Passion settings of J. S. Bach (1685-1750) are richly present in Paulus ("Saint Paul"), the first of his two signature choral masterpieces. The libretto for Paulus was devised by Mendelssohn in collaboration with pastor Julius Schubring, a friend of his from childhood. It draws its narrative heavily from the Acts of the Apostles. Additional biblical and chorale texts are woven into the narrative for reflection, much as Bach did in his Passions. Paulus was first performed in May 1836 in Düsseldorf, sung in the original German. The English premiere was less than five months later in Liverpool, translation having been accomplished by Mendelssohn's friend Karl Klingermann. In the aria Gott, sei mir gnädig, Paul, through the words of Psalm 51, repents and expresses his new Christian commitment in the wake of his dramatic experience on the road to Damascus.
Sunday's organ voluntaries conclude a series, initiated on August 13 of the eight "Little" Preludes and Fugues, traditionally attributed to J. S. Bach. These pieces are now widely believed to have been composed by one of Bach's pupils, possibly Johann Tobias Krebs (1690-1762), or his son Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780). Of these eight preludes and fugues, four are in major keys of C, F, G, and B-flat, and the remaining four are in their relative minors of A, D, E, and G. The standard ordering of these eight pieces begins with BWV 553 in C Major and progresses up the scale to BWV 560 in B-flat. This morning's prelude will be BWV 558 in G minor, and the postlude will be BWV 560 in the relative major key of B-flat. BWV 558, for the prelude, begins with a clear harmonic plan, almost suggestive of a chaconne, simply and directly stated. Its accompanying fugue has a charmingly delicate quality. BWV 560, the last of the collection and played for the postlude, is probably the most extroverted of the eight preludes and fugues. Its prelude includes a distinctive pedal solo, and its fugue is angular and emphatic.-David Hurd
SAINT FRANCIS DAY ANIMAL BLESSING . . . Wednesday, October 4, 6:30-7:30 PM, following Evening Prayer, Father Jim Pace, officiant, exact location to be announced. Bring your pets, give thanks for the goodness of creation, spend some time with fellow Saint Marians, AND meet our neighbors. Treats provided for dogs and cats, though maybe not for turtles or snakes! All pets are welcome!
OKTOBERFEST . . . The annual Oktoberfest Potluck Supper and Hymn Sing will take place on Saturday, October 7, from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM, in Saint Joseph's Hall and the Choir Loft. David Hurd, organist and music director, will play the organ at the Hymn Sing and will take requests from the assembled Saint Marians and their friends. Please join us. Bring a friend and a dish to share. All are welcome.
AFTER THE HURRICANES . . . If you are thinking about making a donation to help with relief and recovery efforts in Houston, southeast Texas, in the Caribbean, Florida, and beyond, consider visiting the following websites: Episcopal Relief & Development, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, The Church of the Holy Spirit, Father Josh Condon, rector.
HOMELESS MINISTRY . . . Donations needed: For our 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. Such basic items are proving to be useful to our neighbors living without shelter . . . 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.
SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST ALZHEIMER'S . . . Parishioner Michael Reid once again invites Saint Marians to join the fight against Alzheimer's Disease. There will be two Walks taking place in Manhattan in October. On Sunday, October 15, the Caring Kind Walk is scheduled to take place in Riverside Park. Then, on Saturday, October 28, the Alzheimer's Association will hold its Walk downtown starting at South Street Seaport and ending at City Hall. Michael is the captain of the Mount Sinai Team that will be participating in both Walks. If you would like to join him for one or both of the Walks, please send him an e-mail. If you would like to make a donation, you may do so either here or here.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Friday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM. (The Reverend Matthew Jacobson is the celebrant and preacher at 6:00 PM.) . . . Sunday, October 1, 2017, Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Academic-Year Schedule begins: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass with Choir 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Morgan Library, Madison Avenue between Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Streets, until January 7, 2018, Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindings. From the Library's website, "Treasure bindings-book covers encrusted with gold, silver, and gemstones-were a luxury in the Middle Ages. Few survive, and some of the finest examples are in the Morgan's distinguished collection. [This exhibition] presents these masterpieces in context for the first time. The treasure bindings on view include star sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, and garnets, alongside illuminated manuscripts and printed books that depict two-dimensional representations of these precious materials. Among the exhibition highlights will be the ninth-century Lindau Gospels, one of the two finest Carolingian jeweled bindings in the world, and the thirteenth-century Berthold Sacramentary, the most luxurious German manuscript of its time. In these and other examples, we learn that the application of gemstones and precious metals served to venerate the texts inside and embellish church services, as well as reflect the status and wealth of the patrons who commissioned them. Images of "imagined" gems are also featured on the pages of manuscripts and printed books presented, including three examples of Venetian books, hand-painted by Girolamo da Cremona. The artist's frontispieces to Augustine's City of God (1475), Plutarch's Parallel Lives (1478), and Aristotle's Opera (1483) are masterpieces of trompe-l'oeil. The last has been called the "most magnificent printed book in the world."