FROM THE RECTOR: NEWS FOR A NEW YEAR
Number One: Three bids were received this past week for the restoration of the West 46th Street façade of the church. At last. I am hopeful that the board of trustees will be able to approve a contract at its December 10 meeting. The bylaws of the parish’s board are flexible about the dates and the frequency of meetings, with one exception: the board must meet within eight days of the patronal feast, December 8, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hope there will be more good news for us before Christmas.
Number Two. The new church year begins with Daily Evening Prayer on Saturday, December 1, 2018, at 5:00 PM. The Sunday Vigil Mass for the First Sunday of Advent follows Evening Prayer. This week we will also celebrate our patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our principal service will be on the Eve of the Conception, Friday, December 7. There will be an organ recital at 5:30 PM. The recitalist is Dr. Judith Hancock. Our guest preacher for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM will be the Reverend Carl F. Turner, rector, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
Saint Mary’s first service was celebrated in a new church located at 228 West Forty-fifth Street on December 8, 1870. It would be its church home for twenty-five years. This church was never “dedicated,” or consecrated. The reason for this is that, until 1973, a church couldn’t be dedicated if there were a mortgage on the church building, or on the land on which the building had been erected. When the estate of Sara Louie Cooke (1841–1892) was received, plans were made to build a new and larger church, our second and present church home. There was no mortgage. The first service was held in the new church on December 8, 1895. Four days later, the church was dedicated by the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, VII Bishop of New York (1883–1908).
The Reverend Thomas McKee Brown (1841–1898; first rector 1870–1898) and his lay and clergy colleagues were leading members of the first generation of Anglo-Catholicism, the renewal movement that had emerged in the wake of the Oxford Movement. The principal Sunday service at Saint Mary’s has always been a celebration of the Eucharist. Daily Mass began when the doors of the first church opened, and that practice has continued. From the beginning, we have been a “free church,” one that cannot charge pew rents.
Number Three. We have two young children in the parish who attend Mass regularly. I’m the only resident member of the clergy who has training in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. On the four Sundays of Advent, I will be meeting with the children in our presently unused atrium, the name used in the catechesis for the space where the children work and pray. Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, now in Nashville, showed me around the stored catechesis materials that she lovingly acquired for this ministry. I hope I can be useful to the children.
As I write, I confess I am nervous about doing this—and I have no idea what comes next. But when I spoke with both children separately, their eyes lit up with joy. Their response touched me deeply. This formation is called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd because the two women who started it observed that the children derived great joy and peace from knowing Jesus the Good Shepherd of his sheep. We’ll see how it goes. This Sunday I’m hoping to be able to introduce them to the atrium space and the Prophecy of the Light: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). That light is not a star, but a child. A blessed Advent for us all. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carolyn, Ivy, Liam, Shauna, Jennifer, Renée, Ricardo, Kenny, Jondan, Michelle, Paul, Frank, MaryHope, José, Eloise, Michael, Alexandra, James, Karen, Susan, Marilouise, Greg, Timothy, Dennis, Abraham, Randy, Burton, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, and Sandy; for Horace, Daniel, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of Matthew Conti, Flossie Henderson, William McCaffery, and Romali Maria De Silva.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 2: 1888 Zebulon Homan Brower; 1916 Ruby F. Flynn; 1919 Annie Pauline Lindsey.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
PLEDGE CARDS . . . We encourage all friends and member of the parish to return their pledge cards as soon as possible so that the Budget Committee may begin their work, planning for 2019. Our needs are urgent. Our mission is clear. We welcome your support, and we are grateful to all those have supported Saint Mary’s so generously in the past.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2018–2019 . . . Our campaign and pledge drive is well underway. Last Sunday, Commitment Sunday, was a success. We received a number of pledge cards at all the services. Some statistics may be helpful. We mailed packets to 124 households that pledged last year and to 673 households that have expressed an interest in supporting the parish. We also, for the first time, sent a separate appeal to 157 households that have made donations in the past, but have not made a pledge. We have asked those donors to consider making a regular, periodic sustaining donation to Saint Mary’s. Once again this year, our goal for the campaign is $425,000. As of November 28, we have received $270,571 in pledges from 58 households, 63.7% of our goal. We still have a ways to go. We encourage all the friends and members of the parish to return their pledge cards no later than December 31. This will help the Budget Committee in its work. However, if making a commitment by that date is not possible, we will gladly receive pledge cards at any point during the coming year.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . With the First Sunday of Advent, we begin Lectionary Year C for the Eucharist and Daily Office Year 1 for Morning and Evening Prayer . . . At Solemn Mass during the Advent Season the congregation and choir will be singing the appointed psalm to Anglican Double Chant. For many it will be familiar. For those for whom this is new, it is the way most Episcopalians sang most of the canticles in the Prayer Book before the 1979 Prayer Book and the new hymnal. It’s a traditional and accessible form for Episcopal worship. —S.G.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Gathering in Saint Joseph’s Hall for fellowship following Mass on Sundays and Solemn Mass on holy days is an important part of our community’s life. It is a ministry that is not without its costs. The cost of food and beverages is significant. We welcome donations to help cover these costs. Please consider making a regular monthly donation to support this ministry. You may also make a donation to cover the costs of a single holy-day reception. We have been spending around $500 for each reception. Donations may be sent by mail to the parish office. Checks should be paid to the order of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Payment by credit card may also be made by contacting the parish office. We are grateful to all those who support Saint Mary’s so generously.
ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . Saturday, December 15, 9:30 AM–3:00 PM. Led by Brother Thomas, SSF, and Brother Damien Joseph, SSF, the Quiet Day will be centered around the stories of Advent. Using icons depicting scenes from the narrative of the Advent season, participants will be invited to engage in a guided process of discussion and prayer meditation. Using the process of lectio divina in the context of icons, participants will have the opportunity to explore the images and texts of the stories of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity in hopefully a new and prayerful way. The brothers will be discussing the use of icons, some of the symbolism within each image, and then lead the participants through the lectio divina process for each image. All are welcome. A donation of $10.00 to cover the costs of breakfast and lunch is gratefully received. Please RSVP by sending an e-mail to Father Jay Smith.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . December 2, the First Sunday of Advent, Sung Matins 8:30 AM and Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Adult Education led by Zachary Roesemann, 10:00 AM; Catechesis of the Good Shepherd 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, December 5, Sung Mass at 12:10 PM; Bible Study Class at 6:30 PM . . . Friday, December 7, Eve of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . The Centering Prayer Group will not meet on December 7 . . . Saturday, December 8, The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers on the following dates: Sunday, January 13, 20, and 27, February 10, 17, 24, and March 3. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on retreat from Thursday evening, November 29, through Sunday, December 2. He returns to the parish office on Monday, December 3 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 186.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Missa in contrapuncto a 4 vocibus by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c. 1656–1746). Fischer was recognized in his day as one of the finest German composers of keyboard music. He was strongly influenced by the French composer Jean Baptiste Lully, with whom he may have studied, and he conveyed French influences to the Italian-influenced German music of his time. J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel were the two most notable musicians who knew and were influenced by Fischer’s work. Unfortunately, the record of Fischer’s life and career seems best documented in writings devoted to others and which only mention him in passing. Of Fischer’s works which were published in his lifetime are collections of sacred music from 1701 and 1711. His Mass for four voices begins with a fugal Kyrie which references the opening phrase of the chorale Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (“Come now, Savior of the Gentiles”) and is therefore particularly appropriate for Advent. While evidencing aspects of the stile antico, this Mass also clearly embraces German Baroque style.
The motet O Heavens, Open from Above, sung during the ministration of Communion on Sunday, was composed in 2004 by David Hurd, organist and music director at Saint Mary’s. It was composed in recognition of the twentieth anniversary of the Reverend William Greenlaw as rector of The Church of the Holy Apostles, Chelsea, New York City. The text is by Genevieve Glen, OSB, of the Abbey of Saint Walburga in Virginia Dale, Colorado. Sister Genevieve is a prolific contemporary essayist, poet and hymn author. Her Advent-themed poem, sung this morning, takes its inspiration from Isaiah 45:8. The musical setting suggests an urgency of hopefulness.
Today’s organ voluntaries are two of the three settings of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland from the Great Eighteen Leipzig Chorales of J. S. Bach (1685–1750). The chorale (54 in The Hymnal 1982) is Martin Luther’s sixteenth-century adaptation of the fourth-century Latin hymn Veni Redemptor gentium attributed to Ambrose of Milan (55 in The Hymnal 1982). BWV 659, played for the prelude, presents a poignant ornamented version of the chorale melody above a walking bass and two accompanying voices. BWV 660, played for the postlude, is an animated trio featuring an ornamented version of the chorale melody above two quasi-canonic accompanying voices played by the left hand and on the pedals.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Sunday, December 2 and 9, at 10:00 AM, resident iconographer Zachary Roesemann leads the class in a discussion of the theology of the Incarnation in light of some of his recent work. The Adult Forum meets in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . The Adult Forum will begin its Christmas break on Sunday, December 16. Classes will resume on Sunday, January 13, at 10:00 AM . . . On January 13, John Basil, former artistic director of the American Globe Theater, begins a four-part series on William Shakespeare, focusing on Hamlet. The series is designed to help us read Shakespeare’s language, while looking at some of Shakespeare’s humanist and religious concerns . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets next on December 5 at 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer. The class is reading the Letter of James and is led by Father Jay Smith. On December 5, we begin our reading at James 3:1.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Drop-in Day on November 28 was a success. We served around 75 guests, and we welcomed some new volunteers. Donations and volunteers will be needed for our next Drop-in Day on Wednesday, December 12, and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. We are in particular need at the moment of warm hats, gloves, and packs of clean, new underwear for both men and women. Please contact Brother Damien Joseph, SSF, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation . . . We 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. We are very grateful to all those who continue to support this ministry with their time, talent, and treasure.
THE VISUAL ARTS AT SMV . . . The Third Annual Latinx Art Fair: DR/PR Collects, Supporting Dominican and Puerto Rican Artists, will take place in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Friday, November 30, 5:00–9:00 PM and Saturday, December 1, 12:00–6:00 PM.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Wednesday, December 12, The Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church, 1895 . . . Sunday, December 16, The Third Sunday of Advent: The O Antiphons begin . . . Friday, December 21, Saint Thomas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, December 24, Christmas Eve, Music for Choir and Congregation 4:30 PM and Sung Mass 5:00 PM; Music for Choir and Congregation 10:30 PM and Solemn Mass 11:00 AM … Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM . . . Wednesday, December 26, Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr . . . Thursday, December 27, Saint John the Evangelist . . . Friday, December 28, The Holy Innocents.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Metropolitan Museum, Fifth Avenue and Eighty-second Street, until January 6, 2019, Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche. From the museum website, “The Met continues a longstanding holiday tradition with the presentation of its Christmas tree, a favorite of both New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. The magnificently lit, twenty-foot blue spruce looms over a vivid eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene, enshrined in an abundant array of lifelike figures with silk-robed angels hovering above. The scene describes in detail the Mediterranean harbor town’s multicultural society. The installation is set in front of the eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid in the Museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall. Recorded Christmas music adds to the enjoyment of the holiday display.”