Holy Week Notes
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
There are two Masses today, one at 9:00 AM and one at 11:00 AM. The later service is perhaps the single service of the year where Saint Mary’s character and vocation as an urban liturgical parish is most evident. The Blessing of the Palms and the Mass of the Passion are celebrated in the church with great solemnity. Between the palm rite and the Mass there is a procession through Times Square. Members of the assembly will be sharing palms with hundreds of people in the square. It is extraordinary. The day begins, of course, with Sung Matins at 8:30 AM and ends with Solemn Evensong at 5:00 PM. If you are a parishioner you ought to come to 11:00 AM this Sunday even if your ordinary practice is to go to the 9:00 AM or the 10:00 AM. The 11:00 AM is really the parish liturgy of the day – and one of the great parish liturgies of the year.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week
Times Square is not normally a place for morning Masses. However, during Holy Week many appreciate and take advantage of the opportunity to come to Mass in the morning. Therefore on these days Morning Prayer is offered at 7:40 AM and Mass follows at 8:00 AM. The Noonday Office and the 12:15 PM Mass is also celebrated as is customary. In the evening, we offer Evensong at 6:00 PM. There is no evening Mass on these days.
On Tuesday in Holy Week the Chrism Mass is celebrated at the cathedral at 11:00 AM. All are invited. Historically this Mass is celebrated on Maundy Thursday. But since Vatican II Roman Catholics and Episcopalians have tended to celebrate this on another convenient day. At this Mass the bishop blesses the Holy Oils that are used in the sacraments of the Church. One member of our parish clergy always misses this Mass so that the usual 12:15 PM Mass can be offered.
Lent ends today at sunset when the Easter Triduum begins. On these three days (“Triduum”) the Church continues to reckon time as the Lord did. Days begin at sunset. In the morning of Maundy Thursday (the nickname for the day comes from the Latin mandatum - “command”), Matins is sung at 8:30 AM. After Matins the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle and the church is prepared for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. There is no Mass during the day.
The Mass begins at 6:00 PM. The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, presiding bishop & primate of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher. The entire offering from the Mass is given to the poor – usually to a social service agency selected by the trustees.
There are many wonderful rites associated with the liturgies of the Triduum, too many to enumerate here. The most important rite of this Mass is the Washing of Feet. This follows the sermon. It takes the place of the creed. It is almost primeval, however, in its creedal character. At Saint Mary’s the entire congregation is invited to participate. We first sit to have our feet washed; then we wash the feet of the next person. It’s not scripted except that the bishop and priests start the washing and they are the last to have their feet washed.
In addition, at this liturgy bread and wine are consecrated for the Communion of the Church at this Mass and on Good Friday. At the end of the service the Sacrament is carried in a solemn procession to an altar of repose that will have been prepared in the Mercy Chapel. You are invited to come to spend time with the Most Holy Sacrament in prayer. The church is open through the night. A security guard will be on duty. (He will also have the key to the restrooms!)
We begin with Sung Matins at 8:30 AM. On Good Friday the liturgy of the day is celebrated twice. Historically it was always celebrated in the early afternoon – the time of the Lord’s death. But Good Friday is now a day of work for most of our community. I will be the celebrant at 12:30 PM. The preacher at 12:30 PM will be the Reverend Louis Weil, who now teaches at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, but was professor of liturgics and church music at Nashotah House when I was in seminary there. In the evening, the Presiding Bishop will be with us as celebrant and preacher. The service (and the music) itself is the same at 12:30 PM and 6:00 PM.
We begin with Sung Matins at 8:30 AM. The Third Day, the day on which Jesus rose, begins at sunset. The Great Vigil of Easter begins at 7:00 PM. It is the very heart of the Christian year. Eat a light supper before you come. Bring a hand bell. (You will be sorry if you don’t.) Champagne and cake will be served afterwards. The Presiding Bishop is celebrant and preacher.
Some General Remarks
It is a great anomaly that our Presiding Bishop does not have a diocese and a cathedral of his own. Archbishops usually do. For us it means that we have the extraordinary opportunity to have him with us. I hope very much you will make every effort to be here and to bring others. The parish clergy and others have been working very hard to see that all of Holy Week is an expression of our appreciation for the particular richness this year offers us. It will be a time to experience in a new way the mystery of Christ’s love for us. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Isaura and Margaret who are hospitalized, and for Peter, Loretta, Eva, Nicholas, Bart, Brett, Nora, Nicole, Jack, Thomas, Sarah, Grover, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Olga, Rick, Charles, priest, and Paul, bishop, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Timothy, Jonathan, Patrick, Edward, Keith, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Mark, Ned, Timothy, David, John and Colin.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 13: 1958 Earle W. Stevenson; 1992: George Edward Mueller; April 19: 1977 Gudrun Lagergren.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Mark 11: 1-11a, Isaiah 45:21-25, Psalm 22:1-11, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 14:32-72, 15:1-47 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 12 by Father Gerth, and by all the parish clergy after both Good Friday liturgies . . . The faithful are reminded that the weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meats. Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Maundy Thursday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary will be Missa syllabica by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Pärt's unique style is known as tintinnabuli, which refers to the practice of considering two voice parts as one line, as one of the parts moves in steps, and the other in larger leaps from one note to another. His beautiful and haunting Mass setting seems to capture the mood of Maundy Thursday – both the glory of the evening’s liturgy and the gathering gloom. On Good Friday, most of the music is plainsong, though the choir sings Tomás Luis de Victoria’s (1548-1611) Reproaches at the Solemn Veneration of the Cross. On both days, the richness of the liturgy does not really allow room for extra-liturgical music. At the Great Vigil of Easter, the setting of the Mass is Communion Service in E (“Collegium Regale”) by Harold Darke (1888-1976). If Pärt’s setting fit the mood of Maundy Thursday, then this exuberant setting is perfect for the Vigil. The anthem at Communion is Sing ye to the Lord by Edward Bairstow (1874-1946). The postlude that evening is Choral-Improvisation sur le “Victimae paschali”, which is one of the set of five improvisations by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) that were transcribed by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Easter Vigil promises to be a wonderful time of welcome for many new Saint Marians. As we go to press, we expect there to be two baptisms and ten persons to be confirmed or received. If there are additional persons to be confirmed, received or who wish to make a reaffirmation of faith, please call the parish office as soon as possible . . . Altar servers are reminded of the workday and rehearsal this Saturday, April 12 . . . Attendance last Sunday 221.
The Calendar of the Week
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday in Holy Week
The Easter Triduum
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Robert Rhodes, assisting deacons,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.