The Angelus


The Great Thanksgiving, Solemn Mass for the Annunciation, Monday, April 9
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

APRIL 15, 2018


One memory from my seminary days that almost always brings a smile to my face is remembering that at Morning Prayer or Evensong (depending on the lectionary year), on the Friday of the second week of Easter, the lector for the week, a middler (a student in the second of three years), would have to read Daniel 3:1–18. It’s the first part of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being cast into the fiery furnace. They survive the furnace because of the intervention of their God (Daniel 3:19–30). Smirking—giggling—would begin early.

Jerusalem is in ruins. The Hebrew people are in exile in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar then sets up an image of gold and commands all to worship it:

And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnez'zar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:4–6)

Mr. Balint Karosi, Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, New York City, played a recital before the Solemn Mass.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

The italicized words are repeated in the passage four times. For whatever reason, the giggles (with 90 or more people in the chapel) would start. The challenge would be for the reader to finish reading without himself or herself losing focus. I’m not sure anyone ever did. As I write on Friday morning, April 13, I’m sure I won’t laugh as the passage is read is read tonight, but I know I will smile. I think I can remember in my middler year that the retired archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, was smiling too. I remember hearing tales of students mispronouncing the words “Hittites” and “braziers”—but I can’t bear personal witness to that.

Worship was serious business at Nashotah House. The chapel was a holy and joyful place. Many students, and often members of the faculty, would arrive early for Daily Evensong to pray in silence—I was never up early enough to know if people came before Daily Morning Prayer and Mass to pray. When one was on the rota to serve, one wanted to do so in a way that one didn’t attract personal attention to oneself. The community made an effort to read and sing as one voice—of course there was good harmony from time to time. (Solo performances were actively discouraged.) I will confess to a moment of probably sinful pride when a colleague in my first position out of seminary remarked to me, “I can tell you are used to singing the liturgy by the way you read it aloud.”

The Rector leads the congregation in praying the Angelus before the Mass begins.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

I know more than a few faithful lay and ordained Christians who have prayed the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer for decades. It’s a wonderful way to read and pray the Bible. Anyone who prays the Offices will tell you that he or she continues to be surprised over the decades by suddenly becoming aware of a phrase or a whole passage that never registered, as it were, before. Quite honestly, this morning I ended up reading the second lesson and found myself hearing these words of Jesus as if for the first time:

And when [the Counselor] comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me. (John 16:8–9)

Of course, for John’s Jesus only one question matters: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35). I wonder, is there another form of sin for John’s Jesus?

Daily prayer can take many forms, but I’d like to think that if I weren’t a priest, I would still choose to pray Morning or Evening Prayer—or perhaps both. It’s a daily encounter with the Word made flesh. I can’t imagine giving it up. When a tragic story is read, I am sad. When words of war, slavery, and hunger are read I can wonder where God is. When something odd or funny comes up, I hope I will always have the grace to smile with joy and wonder at what God has done for humankind.
Stephen Gerth

After the opening acclamation, incense is prepared and the altar is censed while the choir sings Gloria in excelsis.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Dora, Marilouise, Nick, Gail, Candice, Dennis, Bob, Abe, Randy, Barbara, Burt, Mike, Kathleen, Kyle, Greta, Carlos, Bill, Mickie, Jerry, Eleanor, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Takeem, Ridhima, Nadira, Peter, Indy, David, and Sandy; for Horace, David, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; and for all the benefactors and friends of this parish.

GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 15: 1883 Alberta Swan; 1906 William P. Baker; 1910 Jennie Going; 1938 Frances Petty; 1941 Elizabeth Wagner McKesitt.

THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.

AVE ONLINE . . . “Project Canterbury is a free online archive of out-of-print Anglican texts and related modern documents. It was founded in 1999 by Richard Mammana and is an all-volunteer effort; it is not affiliated officially with any church body.” Richard, Wayne Kempton, archivist and historiographer of the diocese of New York, and Mary Robison, parishioner and secretary of the board of trustees, have been working to put our parish’s second newsletter, AVE, in this archive. Many issues are now online—and more are on the way. Again, many, many thanks to Richard, Wayne, and Mary for this project—and to Richard and many others for the great resource that Project Canterbury has become. —S.G.

A reception followed the Mass in Saint Joseph's Hall.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez 

STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Our pledge campaign continues, since we have not yet reached our goal for 2017. We hope to reach our goal of $425,000.00 by June 1, 2018. Please help us to reach that goal. We need your help. 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 grateful to all those who continue to support the parish so generously.

AROUND THE PARISH . . . Staff members and heads of guilds and outreach efforts are asked to submit their reports by Friday, April 27 for the Annual Meeting of the Congregation, which will take place on Sunday, May 6 . . . Sister Monica Clare will be away from the parish from Monday, April 16, until Wednesday, April 25. She will be attending a meeting in Toronto of the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in the Americas (CAROA) . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, April 15, until the afternoon of Thursday, April 19. He returns to the office on Friday, April 20. Attendance: Last Sunday 165; Annunciation 105.

OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . 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 . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our next Drop-in Day on April 25 and for the many requests for assistance between Drop-in Days . . . Please contact Sister Monica Clare, if you would like to volunteer for this important ministry or if you would like to make a donation.

The gospel procession on the Second Sunday of Easter.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 18, at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study in the Parish House . . . Friday, April 20, 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.

CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, April 15, at 10:00 AM. Father Peter Powell will introduce our series on the psalms . . . On Sunday, April 22, Brother Aidan Owen, OHC, will lead the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM in a discussion of the monastic practice of chanting the psalms each day as a form of prayer and contemplation . . . On Sunday, April 29, at 1:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall (note time and location), poet Chester Johnson will discuss his new book, Auden, the Psalms and Me, and the translation of the psalms used in the Book of Common Prayer 1979 . . . Sunday, May 6, at 10:00 AM, topic and presenter to be determined . . . On May 13 and 20, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will teach a two-part series The Dove Descending: bird, fire, wind, water, cloud, light, and other depictions of the Holy Spirit in readings from scripture and beyond (primarily poetry). This is a two-Sunday survey of symbol and significance, ending on the Day of Pentecost.

Father Jay Smith was celebrant and preacher.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez 

ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The Good Shepherd is an image, and a title, of considerable importance in the New Testament, and it is an image that plays a significant role in our Eastertide liturgies. “Surrexit pastor bonus” (“The [Good] Shepherd has arisen”) is the second Matins responsory for Easter Monday. Its text declares and rejoices that the good shepherd, who has laid down his life for his sheep, has indeed risen. Orlando di Lasso (1532–1594), also known as Orlande de Lassus, was one of several composers of his time to set this responsory text, as he did in his 1562 collection of sacred songs for five voices published in Nuremberg. The motet, which will be sung at the Solemn Mass on Sunday during the administration of Communion, begins with an upward sweeping phrase sung by the highest three voices. The two lower voices then echo the same. The two soprano parts joyfully weave among one another through the motet, and it concludes with many alleluias. Sunday’s Mass setting, Lasso’s Missa Surrexit pastor bonus, is Lassus’ parody of his motet, and it carries the same incipit and the same voicing. The Gloria and Sanctus begin with writing very similar to the opening of the motet. This Mass does not include a setting of Agnus Dei. However, another “Surrexit pastor bonus” parody Mass, previously attributed to Lassus but now thought to be the work of Ivo de Vento (c. 1543–1575), does include Agnus Dei. This latter setting of Agnus Dei, in six voices (SSAATB), will be paired with Lassus’ Gloria and Sanctus for the liturgy this morning.

"Lift up your hearts."
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

The prelude and postlude today are, respectively, the Prelude and the Fugue in D Major, BWV 532, of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). This is a youthful and exuberant piece, and sparkles with a joyful Easter spirit from the opening ascending pedal scale that launches the three-sectioned Prelude. The opening and closing sections of the Prelude are in a free fantasia style, while the center section features more ordered writing and is marked Alla breve to indicate a feeling of two beats to the bar. The Fugue is built on a theme presented as a short figure repeated four times followed by a brief pause and the sequential repetition of a similar figure. From this simplicity of melodic material, Bach builds a bright and energetic piece, and not without a sense of humor. —David Hurd

LOOKING AHEAD . . . Tuesday, April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day . . . Wednesday, April 25, Saint Mark, Sung Mass 12:10 PM and Mass 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, May 6, May Crowning and Annual Meeting of the Congregation . . . Wednesday, May 9, Eve of Ascension Day, Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 10, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Office 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 20, The Day of Pentecost . . . Sunday, May 27, Trinity Sunday . . . Monday, May 28, Memorial Day . . . Thursday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Flowers of Saint Mary's  Photo by Ricardo Gomez

The Flowers of Saint Mary's
Photo by Ricardo Gomez

AT THE GALLERIES . . At the Met Fifth Avenue, Eighty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, March 12–July 29, 2018. From the museum website, “Following in the footsteps of nineteenth-century artists who celebrated the out-of-doors as a place of leisure, renewal, and inspiration, this exhibition explores horticultural developments that reshaped the landscape of France and grounded innovative movements—artistic and green—in an era that gave rise to Naturalism, Impressionism, and Art Nouveau. As shiploads of exotic botanical specimens arrived from abroad and local nurserymen pursued hybridization, the availability and variety of plants and flowers grew exponentially, as did the interest in them. The opening up of formerly royal properties and the transformation of Paris during the Second Empire into a city of tree-lined boulevards and parks introduced public green spaces to be enjoyed as open-air salons, while suburbanites and country-house dwellers were prompted to cultivate their own flower gardens. By 1860, the French journalist Eugène Chapus could write: ‘One of the pronounced characteristics of our Parisian society is that . . . everyone in the middle class wants to have his little house with trees, roses, and dahlias, his big or little garden, his rural piece of the good life.’

CLICK HERE for this week's schedule.

CLICK HERE for the full parish calendar.