FROM FATHER SMITH: "BACK HOME" AND "OVER THERE"
When I was growing up Roman Catholic in my small town in Western New York in the middle of the last century, "the missions" were something that took place "over there," a long way from "back home." Only specially qualified people went to serve in the missions. They were mostly white, but we didn't notice that, because we were mostly white, too. Every once in a while a "missionary" would come to the parish on a Sunday to preach. He would talk about his work "over there" and would ask for donations to assist with his faraway labors. That was the trajectory back then. We watched The Nun's Story (1959), starring the talented and lovely Audrey Hepburn, and assumed that that was just how things worked "over there" and always would. White missionaries would travel to mission "territory"-Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They would work with masses of people who seemed to be "not like us" and who, therefore, seemed exotic. Eventually, those missionaries would return, for a time, or forever. They, of course, came back change, but we didn't really understand that, because the gap between "back home" and "over there" seemed to us eternal and unchanging.
What we didn't see back then was that history was happening to us at a furious pace. The Cold War kept on getting colder. England and France were giving up their overseas colonies. The Commonwealth of Nations was taking shape. Terrible civil wars, fueled by Cold-War rivalries, broke out in Congo, Algeria, and Southeast Asia and went on for years. A revolution took place in Cuba. The struggle for civil rights emerged and flourished in the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., won the Nobel Prize for Peace (1964). The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was enacted by the United States Congress, and certain racist immigration restrictions came to an end. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) took place. Political and economic change waxed and waned and waxed again throughout the "Third World." Old colonial ways of doing things came fitfully to an end, though not without resistance. The world was growing smaller and more interconnected, and the old trajectory was coming to an end forever, though we mostly didn't see it at the time.
Last Saturday, I watched the royal wedding more than once, with pleasure and great interest. In the days since, it has been fascinating to see how much discussion the wedding has inspired. At midday on Saturday here in the Eastern United States, the Times of London, was giving the event mixed reviews. It seemed as if the newspaper's journalists, like some of the members of the congregation in Saint George's Chapel, were still trying to take in what they'd witnessed. The mixture of contemporary and traditional had startled them, as had, at first, Bishop Michael Curry's sermon. It seemed to me that many commentators-like many of the congregants in the chapel-had arrived with their prejudices fully intact: Anglican liturgy-and Anglicans-could be expected to be comfortably and safely predictable, if not, in fact, "stuffy," "dry," and "boring." In the end, the journalists and congregants both found that they were not bored, but were not at all sure that they enjoyed the sensation. As the day went on, however, the reviews grew more positive, as discussion of the wedding continued in the United Kingdom and here in the States. And that, of course, has been the most fascinating thing of all. Suddenly, people were talking about sacred music, about liturgy, about a sermon, about love, and about Jesus! Candice Benbow, a former parishioner of Bishop Curry's, now writing for Glamour magazine, posted an essay on her magazine's website entitled "My Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Just Changed the History of Royal Weddings-Here's Why His Sermon Matters." In her essay, Benbow talks about "Blackness," the black church, the struggle for racial justice, as well as emotional styles of preaching. But she also talks about theology and about the theme of love that was so prominent in the bishop's sermon. Another example: A British, married, formerly Anglican, now Roman Catholic, priest wrote a thoughtful and magnanimous analysis of the sermon in the Jesuit magazine, America.
As I've thought about the wedding this week, I've wondered if some of the excitement generated by the event is due to the fact that the old trajectory is gone. We are no longer able to think so casually and unthinkingly about "back home" and "over there." Bishop Curry, in his rochet, chimere, and bright red wrist bands, brought Anglicanism with an American accent into the very heart of the mother church. The Reverend Prebendary Rose Josephine Hudson-Wilkin, born in Jamaica, who helped lead the prayers at the wedding, writes on institutional racism in the church. She is also, among other things, the chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and a chaplain to the Queen. And she read the prayers in a manner that was more traditionally "Anglican" than this boy from Buffalo could ever pull off. The brilliant young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, of African and West-Indian descent, and born and raised in Nottingham, played a program of European music, while the newly married couple signed the registers. Some of the choral music was contemporary and American and some of it was English and written in the sixteenth century. Queen Elizabeth watched the proceedings in her familiar way. She didn't smile much. Still, the Queen has made some 265 visits around the world during her long reign. I doubt that much that took place in the chapel on Saturday surprised her. More than most of us, Queen Elizabeth II has seen a great deal of the world. She must see and know that "over there" has come "back home" for good.
At the end of the day, of course, the things that announced the collapse of the old trajectory at the wedding were the words of Scripture, the liturgy, and, the bishop's sermon. All of those things, in their own idiom, spoke of things that are universal and eternal. The bishop quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. But his sermon was really based on Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew (22:37-40) and on Saint John's reflections on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1 John 4:7). That should not surprise us. It is Bishop Curry who speaks so frequently of our church as "the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement." And isn't that a good thing?: to be reminded that, in Jesus, there is no back home or over there, that we are all children of God, and that, when it comes to God, there is love enough for all of us. —James Ross Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Michael, Dick, Angie, Maxine, Alex, Mary, Dora, Marilouise, Dennis, Bob, Abe, Randy, Burt, Mike, Melissa, Kyle, Greta, Karen, Eugenia, May, Heidi, Ridhima, Takeem, David, Gloria, and Sandy; for Laura Katharine, religious; and for Yamily, Horace, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, and Jude, priests; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of Juan Solla, Sabika Sheikh, and all those killed in the shootings at Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 27: 1888 Eugene G. Barrows; 1933 Edith St. John; 1954 Caroline Elizabeth Kindred; 1957 Charles Wesley Barney.
THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD for Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, priest, will be offered on Saturday, June 2, at 10:00 AM, in the church. The Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche, bishop of New York, will be the celebrant. The Right Reverend Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan, will be the preacher. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow the liturgy. Mother Mitties' ashes will be interred at a later date at Saint Athanasius Episcopal Church at the Cathedral Center of Saint Paul, Los Angeles, California.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
AIDS WALK 2018 . . . Last Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, our Team served at the altar, ushered, and attended Mass, and then walked the AIDS Walk, trailing well behind the main walk that had begun earlier that morning. We may have followed the crowd, but we led most teams in our fundraising: As of this writing, our team is number 4 overall for funds raised. This year's AIDS Walk has garnered $4,416,919 and Saint Mary's Team has raised almost $60,000 of that. As of today, we are $609 short of that giant number. We received almost 300 donations. The donation period is open until mid-June. When the final tallies are in, we will give a report to the parish. In the meantime, we are deeply grateful to every one of those 300 people. If you would still like to contribute, you can do so online, or by giving a check paid to the order of AIDS Walk New York to Father Smith or to one of the two coordinators, Clark Mitchell or MaryJane Boland.
FROM THE TRENCHES . . . Design work continues apace for the restoration of the south façades of the church. Our architects, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, recently completed a close-proximity inspection of the façades using a mechanical lift that provided unimpeded access to elements that would have otherwise been inaccessible. As a result, the team of architects was able to determine the condition of the stone masonry and terra cotta, and thus create an appropriate approach for restorative intervention. The restoration documents that will be used by contractors to perform the work will soon be completed. The general schematic design of the access ramp at the Forty-seventh Street entrance, mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is nearly complete. Following selection of one of the possible design options, the ramp configuration will be formalized, and solicitation of contractor bids will take place. It is hoped that work on the ramp will begin in the fall, following approval by the appropriate City agencies.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, May 27, Trinity Sunday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM, Mass 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. This will be the final Evensong of the season. Solemn Evensong and Benediction resumes on the first Sunday in October at 5:00 PM . . . Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, Federal Holiday schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered, and the parish offices are closed . . . Thursday, May 31, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM and Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Friday, June 1, 6:30 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish Hall, Second Floor . . . Saturday, June 2, 10:00 AM, The Burial of the Dead for Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, priest.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Laura Katharine's "Candle Sale" will be held on Trinity Sunday, May 27, in Saint Benedict's Study following the Solemn Mass. This will be her final sale-big discounts are promised! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 201.
CHRISTIAN FORMATION . . . The final meeting of the Adult Forum took place last Sunday morning, May 20. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class met for their end-of-year dinner on Wednesday, May 23. Both the Adult Forum and the Bible Study Class will resume in late September or early October. Stay tuned for more information about start dates, times, and our list of offerings. We are very grateful to all those who gave of their time and expertise in order to lead the classes during the 2017-2018 season. We are also very grateful to all those who came to class, participated energetically and thoughtfully, and committed themselves to studying the gospel, the call to mission, and the Christian tradition. We look forward to being able to study together in the fall. If you, haven't gotten into the habit of coming to class, we invite you to give it a try!
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Mass for Five Voices of William Byrd (c. 1540-1623). Byrd composed settings of the Latin Mass for three, four, and five voices. The Mass for Five Voices probably dates from about 1594 and was the last of the three to be composed. Its voicing is the most expansive, having two tenor parts, but its movements are the most concise of the three Byrd Masses. The whole business of Latin Masses in post-Reformation England needed to be a somewhat clandestine matter to protect those involved from the possibility of arrest. This being the case, Byrd's part books were undated and without title page or preface, nor was the printer (Thomas East) identified. Fortunately, Byrd's settings survived the period in which their performance-if not their very existence-was illegal, and now they are rightly regarded as great treasures of Western music. Composed with the Continental Tridentine liturgy in mind, Byrd's Masses were also influenced by pre-Reformation works of English masters John Taverner (c. 1490-1545), Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1573), John Sheppard (c. 1515-1558) and Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). The several movements of Byrd's Mass for Five Voices are linked by recurring freely composed themes.
The Communion motet on Sunday is a setting for five voices of the Matins Responsory for Trinity Sunday by a contemporary of Byrd and fellow Roman Catholic, organist and composer Peter Philips (c. 1560-1635). Philips had a particularly colorful life which included performing, composing, editing and publishing sacred and secular music in England, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Like Byrd, Philips's compositional mastery extended to all the forms he took on, including instrumental, keyboard, and choral expressions. Despite his having begun his music formation as a choirboy at Saint Paul's Cathedral, Philips's madrigals and motets are stylistically closer to continental styles than the English examples of his time. Tibi Laus is one of the more madrigalian of Philips's motets with its chordal textures and meters shifts between duple and triple.
Following the administration of Communion, the canticle Te Deum laudamus will be sung while incense is offered. The choir will sing this canticle, traditionally attributed to Saint Ambrose, to traditional plainsong in alternation with verses played on the organ. This manner of presenting liturgical texts, called alternatim, was often applied to portions of the Mass and Office. Alternatim performance practice was well established throughout Europe from the seventeenth century, documented in part by many organ versets, which were composed for this purpose by leading organ composers. It is also not uncommon, in our time, for organists to improvise verses in alternation with those sung to chant.
Sunday morning's organ voluntaries are movements from Te Deum Laudamus, a four-movement work by David Hurd, based upon the Latin hymn for which it is named. Te Deum Laudamus was composed for Larry King, who was then director of music at Trinity Church, Wall Street. Dr. King premiered Te Deum Laudamus at the Riverside Church in July 1982. The second movement of Te Deum Laudamus, played for the prelude today, is subtitled The Adoration. It has four distinct sections of its own: one for each constituency which offers praise in the Latin hymn. The Apostles' praise is set in twelve-tone technique; the Prophets' praise uses ascending and fuguing thirds; the Martyrs' praise is expressed in boldly juxtaposed major triads; the Holy Church's praise is a five-voice fantasia in which the chant cantus firmus is fully given out in the upper pedal voice. The first movement of Te Deum Laudamus, played for the postlude, is a Toccata subtitled The Acknowledgement. The chant melody for the initial verse of the Latin hymn provides the cantus firmus which is played in long tones on the pedals in the outer sections of this movement and adapted as a fugue subject in its central section. —David Hurd
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Thank you so much to all those who volunteered on Wednesday, May 23, for our monthly Drop-in Day, and to all those who continue to make donations of cash, clothing, and toiletry articles in support of this ministry. We served 65 people on May 23, all of whom were grateful for the warm welcome and for the assistance that we were able to provide . . . Donations and volunteers are needed for our next Drop-in Days on June 27 and July 11, 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 . . . 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.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Friday, June 8, 2018, 10:00 AM, Convent of the Community of St. John Baptist, Mendham, New Jersey, Life Profession of Sister Monica Clare, C.S.J.B. . . . Monday, June 18-Monday, July 9, Father Smith will be away from the parish on vacation . . . Sunday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist . . . Friday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles.