FROM THE RECTOR: MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christmas greens were delivered last Monday, and the Flower Guild has been hard at work ever since. After the greens were unpacked, to walk through Saint Joseph’s Hall was very much like walking through a kind of maze—I suspect it will be like that again once the flowers are delivered. A huge amount of work remains to be done. On December 23, morning and evening, it will be the Fourth Sunday of Advent, but by then signs of our celebration of Christ’s birth will be in view in some places in the church. I think I speak for many of the parish’s members and friends when I say that I am immensely grateful for the creativity, talent, and commitment of the members of the Flower Guild, and of those who help them at this time of year. The Guild’s work seems to be a labor of love, but the many hours spent are also a generous gift that helps us all to worship in a greater beauty of holiness at Christmas.
The Flower Guild is not alone in preparing for Christmas. Our Sacristy Team is hard at work as are the members of our Ushers Guild. Have I mentioned the church staff and clergy? Hospitality? The spirit here is very good, and I want to thank all who will be at Mass to worship with, and to welcome, our visitors on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve, the church will open at its usual hour of 7:00 AM. The final services of Advent, Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM and the last Advent Mass at 9:00 AM, will be offered. There are two Christmas Eve services, each with a musical prelude: Christmas Music at 4:30 PM and Sung Mass at 5:00 PM with the parish choir and Saint Mary’s Brass Ensemble; Christmas Music at 10:30 PM and Procession & Solemn Mass at 11:00 PM. If you arrive before the Christmas Music starts, you will have an easy time finding a seat.
On Christmas Day, the church will open at 9:00 AM. Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche will take place at 11:00 AM. The parish choir will sing. There will be a reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the service. The church will close at 2:00 PM.
December is a month of many anniversaries for me. I made my first confession in December 1976—walking one and a half miles on snow-covered sidewalks from Harper Library at the University of Chicago to the local parish church. I was ordained to the priesthood on December 21, 1983, and was celebrant for a Eucharist for the first time three days later at the 11:00 PM Christmas Eve Eucharist at the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas. It was my first job in the church. My first Sunday as a rector was December 18, 1988, at Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana. On December 5, 1998, I was called to be rector of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
I made a big change in the order of music at my first Christmas Eve in Michigan City. The last hymn that night was not “Silent Night,” but “Hark! the herald angels sing,” a hymn about our future, not our past—the change was well received. (Of course, we still sang “Silent Night” after Communion!) My mother died during the third week of Easter in 2013, my dad on Christmas Eve 2014. I never want an Easter Day when I don’t hear the Risen Jesus speak. And I don’t want a Christmas Eve without hearing the herald angels sing. Merry Christmas. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Emil, Carl, Louisa, Terry, MaryHope, Alexandra, Kyle, Carolyn, Ivy, Liam, Barbara, Ricardo, Kenny, Jondan, Michelle, José, Eloise, Michael, James, Karen, Susan, Marilouise, Greg, William, Dennis, Abraham, Randy, Burton, May, Heidi, Takeem, David, and Sandy; for Horace, Clayton, Daniel, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, and Norman, priests; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Dorothy Rogers.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 23: 1905 John Webber; 1959 Helen Partridge; 1964 Christine Cadney.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Dorothy Rogers, the mother of Mary Teresa Rogers, died peacefully at her home in Texas on Saturday, December 15, after a long illness. Mary, known to members of Saint Mary’s as Terry, is a good friend of the parish. She is also a Third Order Franciscan and is well known to the wider Anglican Franciscan community. Please keep Dorothy, Terry, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE COMPANIONS OF CHRIST . . . Three Major Feasts are celebrated on the second, third, and fourth days of Christmas. Saint Stephen, Saint John, and the Holy Innocents are known as the “Companions of Christ” . . . On Wednesday, December 26, Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr, the church is open from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM, and only the noonday services are offered: Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. The Mass will not be sung on St. Stephen’s Day . . . On Thursday, December 27, Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, and on Friday, December 28, The Holy Innocents, these services are offered: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer, Mass 6:20 PM. At the Masses on Thursday, the Anointing of the Sick is also offered.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR PLEDGE CARD! . . . 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 . . . Our campaign and pledge drive is well underway. Once again this year, our goal for the campaign is $425,000. As of December 18, we have received $316,107.00 in pledges from 80 households, 74% of our goal.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We hope to receive donations to help pay for the holy-day receptions on December 25, February 1, and March 25. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office. The total cost of each reception is around $500.00, but we welcome gifts of any size in support of this important ministry.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, December 22, Work Day: Decorating the Church for Christmas . . . December 23, The Fourth Sunday of Advent, Sung Matins 8:30 AM and Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Catechesis of the Good Shepherd 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evensong and Benediction 5:00 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 Procession and Solemn Mass 11:00 PM . . . Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day, Solemn Mass and Procession to the Crèche 11:00 AM . . . Wednesday, December 26, Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr . . . Thursday, December 27, Saint John the Evangelist . . . Friday, December 28, The Holy Innocents . . . Saturday, December 29, Saint Thomas Becket (The 848th anniversary of Saint Thomas’s martyrdom).
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS . . . Looking for volunteers: Preparations to decorate the church for Christmas begin next week. Saturday, December 22, is a day on which a big volunteer force would be helpful. Please contact Grace Mudd, if you think you might have some time to give.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers on the following dates: Sunday, January 13 and 27, February 10, 17, 24, and March 3. We also welcome donations to help defray the costs of flowers and other decorations at Christmas. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish attending a funeral in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday, December 21 and 22 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 204.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa Dixit Maria by Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612). Hassler was a student of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510–1586) in Venice and one of the first of a succession of German composers to experience in Italy the musical innovations that were shaping what would later be identified as baroque style. Although he was a Protestant, Hassler’s early compositions were for the Roman church. His Missa Dixit Maria, published in 1599, is a parody Mass with themes borrowed from his own motet Dixit Maria ad Angelum. The text of the source motet recounts Mary’s words to the angel of the Annunciation, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me, according to your word.”
The motet sung during the ministration of Communion was composed by the American Frank Ferko (b. 1950). It is the third of Six Marian Motets for unaccompanied mixed chorus commissioned in 1994 by the Schola Cantorum of Saint Peter’s Church in the Loop, Chicago. The text is taken from a Troparion, a type of short hymn characteristically sung at Vespers in Byzantine and other Eastern Christian churches. The translation set by Dr. Ferko is credited to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Frank Ferko holds music degrees from Valparaiso, Syracuse and Northwestern universities. He has an impressively extensive and varied catalogue of compositions, many of which have been performed and recorded internationally.
The organ prelude is the more extended of two Buxtehude organ works for Magnificat on the first psalm-tone. It divides clearly into two principal sections, each with four sub-sections and a coda. While bits of the fantasy style are in evidence, most of the sub-sections are clearly imitative if not strictly fugal. Some researchers have taken occasion to identify the shape of the first psalm tone as it lay concealed in Buxtehude’s counterpoint. A debate centers on whether the sub-sections of this work were intended to be performed in alternatim with sung verses of Magnificat, or if the entire piece should be played continuously without the insertion of chant verses. As is often the case, historic music of distinction lends itself to a variety of reasonable interpretations, and what remains is for musicians to find performance solutions appropriate to the occasion, and let the hearer delight.
The postlude is by the celebrated African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941), currently professor of composition at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia. In Hailstork’s Toccata one can hear fragments of the fifteenth-century Advent hymn O come, O come Emmanuel, although the entire chant melody is never stated as such. The unusual meter of five beats to the bar gives the Toccata a curious off-balanced rhythmic energy, and the harmonic dissonances may reflect a world in chaos awaiting the birth of the Savior. —David Hurd
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum began 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. John writes, “This will be an introduction to William Shakespeare’s first folio and will provide an approach to the text using methods that Shakespeare and his company utilized. The participant will learn how to uncover the character’s physical life from the language. This gutsy, visceral way to analyze Shakespeare’s language teaches the participant how to use the script as a ‘blueprint.’ The Tragedy of Hamlet will be the text explored. We will also hope to uncover all of the Protestant and Catholic references that are hidden in the text. Workshops begin on January 13, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study, and classes are fifty minutes long . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on December 19, 26, January 2, or January 9. We are reading the Letter of James. The class is led by Father Jay Smith. Class will resume on January 16, when we will begin reading at James 4:1.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We have begun our annual winter “Take One, Leave One” Project of placing a basket with woolen scarves, hats, and gloves near the ushers’ table at Forty-sixth Street. These are made available to those in need. We welcome donations of such woolen items. If you are a knitter—or a shopper!—and would like to make a donation, simply place the item in the basket; and we thank you for your generosity . . . Donations and volunteers will be needed for our next Drop-in Day on Wednesday, January 16, and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days. We are in particular need at the moment of packs of new, clean 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 . . . Works from The Third Annual Latinx Art Fair: DR/PR Collects, Supporting Dominican and Puerto Rican Artists are still on view in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Please contact curator José Vidal for information about the artists or for prices.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Sunday, January 6, The Epiphany . . . Sunday, January 13, The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Friday, January 18, The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle (Said Mass at 12:10 PM and Sung Mass at 6:00 PM). . . Friday, January 25, The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle . . . Friday, February 1, The Eve of the Presentation . . . Wednesday, March 6, Ash Wednesday.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the New-York Historical Society, Central Park West and Seventy-seventh Street, until March 3, 2019, Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow. From the museum website, [This exhibition] explores the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded in the fifty years after the Civil War. When slavery ended in 1865, a period of Reconstruction began, leading to such achievements as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. By 1868, all persons born in the United States were citizens and equal under the law. But efforts to create an interracial democracy were contested from the start. A harsh backlash ensued, ushering in a half century of the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow. Opening to mark the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the exhibition is organized chronologically from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I and highlights the central role played by African Americans in advocating for their rights. It also examines the depth and breadth of opposition to black advancement. Art, artifacts, photographs, and media will help visitors explore these transformative decades in American history and understand their continuing relevance today.”