Rome and London
On Wednesday afternoon, May 21, the parish musician and I are going on a trip to Rome and to London to go to church together and to meet with liturgists and musicians. During the planning stages of the trip, Father Alan Moses invited me to preach at All Saints’ Margaret Street in London on Ascension Day. But the genesis of the trip is for me and Robert McCormick to go to church together in some of the great parishes and cathedrals and to see what we can learn about doing our job here at Saint Mary’s, Times Square.
Why Rome? Why London? These are two cities where Saint Mary’s has peer churches. There are many, many great parishes and cathedrals in our own country, but Saint Mary’s is a physically large urban liturgical church in a business district. In Rome and in London we expect to attend worship and to meet with people where the liturgical life of the community is on the same scale as our work in Times Square.
In some important ways Saint Mary’s is almost unique in the United States among Episcopal and other Christian communities. It has been one of the leading Anglo-catholic parishes in the United States since its inception. Its second and present church home has made it possible for worship here to be on a scale unlike that of any other Anglo-catholic parish in the United States. Our building is large. Our organ is large. Our city is large. Our commitment to liturgy is huge. Saint Mary’s is the only one of the historic Anglo-catholic parishes in New York that accepts and embraces both the ordination of women and the new rites of the Prayer Book.
I don’t expect to find women at the altar in Rome or in every place I visit in London. I don’t expect to find Rite II except in perhaps in an American parish in Rome! But what I do want to see is a Christian community where the liturgical act is known and loved. I want to speak with clergy and lay professionals who know the language of rite and are interested not in its details, which are known and shared by the people and their clergy, but in the wonder of Christ’s presence in the gathered assembly. I’m interested in the liturgical past as long as it helps me to know the liturgical present. I want to think about what we do at Saint Mary’s to make the Body of Christ present in rite. Again, it is not the details but the larger reality that calls me.
I want to know what the best thinking about liturgical worship and Christian community is today. I want what we do at Saint Mary’s to reflect this to the greatest extent possible. To what extent does the common life of some important Christian communities in Rome and London reflect the best thinking about liturgical worship and Christian community today? What can we learn? What makes sense for us as American Episcopalians?
While Robert McCormick and I are away, the parish will be in the good and capable hands of our parish clergy, Robert McDermitt, our assistant organists, and our great friend, Bishop C. Christopher Epting, the ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Epting will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day. Father Weiler takes the Sung and Solemn Masses this Sunday, Father Smith the following Sunday. I will be back for Pentecost. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Alice who is gravely ill, for Margaret and Marjorie who are hospitalized, and for Lois, Joan, Joanne, Eva, Nicholas, Bart, Brett, Nicole, Jack, Thomas, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Olga, Rick, and Charles, priest; 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 . . . May 18: 1949 Don Patterson; May 23: 1959 Edith May Place Bennett.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR EILEEN SORENSEN . . . A memorial service for our former parish secretary, Eileen Sorensen, will be held at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, June 28, at 10:30 AM.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 66:1-8, 1 John 3:14-24, John 14:15-21 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 17, by Father Smith, and on Saturday, May 24, by Father Weiler.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by assistant organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude will be Cantabile from Trois Pièces by César Franck (1822-1890) and the postlude will be Tuba Tune by C. S. Lang (1891-1971). At the Solemn Mass, the prelude and postlude will be two different settings of the Easter chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Canterbury Mass by Anthony Piccolo (b. 1946). Piccolo is a New York composer and singer who wrote this setting for the choir of Canterbury Cathedral when he was a member of the choir there. The anthem at Communion is Rise up, my love, my fair one by Healey Willan (1880-1968). We continue our organ recital series before Solemn Evensong & Benediction. This week, we welcome Mr. Paul Murray, organist and music director of Holy Family Church, Manhattan, who will play works of Bach, Widor, Clérambault and S. S. Wesley.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Wednesday, May 21, until Thursday, June 5. Father Weiler will be in residence during this time. The home telephone numbers of the rector and the curate are listed in the Manhattan white pages under their own names so that they can be reached in case of emergency . . . Ashley Stryker and John Speranza will be married at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, May 24, at 4:00 PM . . . Attendance last Sunday 247.
THE AMERICAN BOYCHOIR IN CONCERT . . . Please mark your calendars for the renowned American Boychoir in concert at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 PM. This is one concert you don’t want to miss. It will feature music of Buxtehude, Schütz, Poulenc, Rheinberger, Brahms, Britten, Bruckner, Randall Thompson and others. Joining the choir for portions of the concert will be the Albemarle Singers, a professional men’s choir. Tickets are $30.00 ($15.00 for students) and may be purchased by calling (212) 869-5830, extension 25 and at the door.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Monday Dunstan, bishop
Tuesday Alcuin, deacon & abbot of Tours
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday No Abstinence
Saturday Jackson Kemper, missionary bishop
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, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.