The Dedication of the Church
As far as I can tell, the anniversary of the dedication of Saint Mary’s church building has never been celebrated on the actual anniversary. The church was consecrated by the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, bishop of New York, on December 12, 1895. Yet the first service had already been held, on December 8, 1895. Beginning in 1896, December 8 was celebrated as the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church.
Since 1931, the first Sunday in October has been kept as our Feast of Dedication. It’s a convenient Sunday to begin the choir season. The scripture readings, prayers and hymns are wonderful. We have a building of unusually rich glory in which to gather to worship God. It is something for which this community is very thankful.
This Sunday also marks the return of our regular schedule. Beginning this Sunday, Morning Prayer will be sung at 8:30 AM instead of being said. And on Sunday evening, Solemn Evensong & Benediction will be offered at 5:00 PM. Except in Lent, there is an organ recital before Evensong at 4:40 PM. This is a remarkably rich liturgical schedule. Of course, worship is why our building was built. Worship is why our parish was organized. And at Saint Mary’s, worship is always about Jesus Christ.
There are many reasons for Christian communities to have church buildings. I think it is true that the original reason was simply to have enough space for Christians to gather together. At the same time, church buildings from the beginning also had a theology. In addition to everything else, Saint Peter’s Basilica is a monument to papal theology; Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London is an Anglican monument. Saint Mary’s has been about worship, liturgical worship. This is our parish’s vocation.
Our vocation could be described another way, arguably a better way. Saint Mary’s has always been about Jesus Christ, his Good News, his gifts, his presence, his love. To say that Saint Mary’s is about liturgical worship is to say to those who are familiar with this language something about the way in which Saint Mary’s proclaims Christ and follows him.
This Sunday will be special for many reasons. It’s hard for us not to be aware and thankful of the gifts of the past that have made the present possible. Personally, I know that the flowers for the day are given in memory of the departed rectors of this parish – something which I find almost impossible to think about. Instead, I will think about how I depend on Jesus Christ. I believe in him. I believe in his Church. I believe in his loving providence for us and for all people. And I can hardly wait to for the celebrations of the day.
We will have three priests with us as guests this weekend. The Reverend Peter Galloway, vicar of Emmanuel Church, Hampstead Heath, London, is a longtime friend of Saint Mary’s, who is our preacher at Evensong, and the Reverend David John, an assisting priest at Father’s parish. Father John is a member of the London police force.
The week after I was called as rector of this parish, while I was still in Indiana, I got a call from a friend of mine who was visiting New York at the time, the Reverend Kenneth Dimmick, now associate rector of Palmer Church, Houston. He called from Times Square. He had stepped into the church before a matinee. He couldn’t wait to talk to me. He said to me something like, “It’s spectacular.” Father Dimmick will be here on Sunday and I’m really glad a friend who loves this place as much as I do will be with us.
Sometimes I feel as if I talk about music too much, but I really don’t think I do. It’s just really fine these days at Saint Mary’s. And I hope very much many in the parish will be able to be here for the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning and for Solemn Evensong on Sunday evening. This is the only Sunday night the full choir will sing Evensong until Easter Day (we will have a few visiting choirs during this time). Mr. Daniel Beckwith is our recitalist before the service. The music, organ and choral, will be glorious. And, as always at Saint Mary’s, it will all be about Jesus. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Francis and Hazard who are hospitalized, and for Jason, Bernard, Harold, Louise, Gates, Harold, Billie, Susan, John, Michael, Virginia, Bart, Brett, Nicole, Jack, Thomas, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Rick, and Charles, priest, Gregory, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; especially Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, John and Colin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 7: 1962 Stephen Waterman Mason, 1965 Josephine Barreaux; October 9: 1971 Roger Rolt-Wheeler, 1987 Barbara L. Coates; October 10: 1994 Octavia Josephine Wenz Wall.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Kings 8:22-30, Psalm 84:1-6, James: 4:7-5:6, Matthew 21:12-16 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 4, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, October 11, by Father Beddingfield.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by assistant organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Trio in F Major by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and the postlude is Bell Symphony by Henry Purcell (1659-1695). At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Hymne d’Actions de grâce “Te Deum,” Op. 5, No. 3 by Jean Langlais (1907-1991). The postlude is Tu es petra et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus te (“You are the rock, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it”) by Henri Mulet (1878-1967), from his collection Esquisses Byzantines. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Aeterna Christi munera’ by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594), a paraphrase Mass first published in 1590, quoting the plainsong hymn Aeterna Christi munera, the office hymn for feasts of Apostles. The anthem at Communion is Lord, I have loved the habitation of thine house by Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656). We resume our weekly series of organ recitals at 4:40 PM. This week, Mr. Daniel Beckwith will play works of Bach, Roger-Ducasse and Vierne. He is currently the interim organist and choirmaster at Saint John’s in the Village Church in Manhattan, and an internationally renowned opera conductor. The full choir sings for Solemn Evensong & Benediction this week. The music includes Hail, gladdening light by Charles Wood (1866-1926), a setting of Phos hilaron in a translation by John Keble, which has become one of the best-loved English anthems of the 20th century. The setting of the canticles is Evening Service in D by George Dyson (1883-1964). Dyson was a versatile person – he also had a military career and wrote the official guide to hand grenade fighting used in World War I! Also sung on Sunday evening will be Thou, O God, art praised in Sion by Malcolm C. Boyle (1902-1976) and music for Benediction by Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and George Henschel (1850-1934).
CHRISTIAN FORMATION AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Bishop Grein’s class on the Gospel according to Mark continues through October 8 . . . On Wednesday, October 15, the day on which the Church commemorates Saint Teresa of Avila, we will begin a two-week class on Teresa. The class will be led by our seminarian Clare Nesmith and Father Beddingfield . . . On October 29 we begin a journey through the Wisdom Literature, led by Joseph Pearson, a parishioner and professor of medieval theology at Fordham University . . . On December 3 and 10, Ms. Joan Baldridge will help us explore the image of Mary Magdalene in art history, particularly focusing on ways in which Mary was portrayed in art of the fourteenth century . . . Christian formation at Saint Mary’s is offered on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study.
WOMEN AND SPIRITUALITY GROUP . . . On the second Tuesday of each month, this group gathers in Saint Benedict’s Study to read passages from the upcoming Sunday lectionary, pray through the scripture, and share reflections based upon their prayerful reading. This method of prayerful reading and listening for God’s word is called lectio divina. The group’s next meeting is on Tuesday, October 14, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, and is especially welcoming of newcomers. New to Saint Mary’s? This is a great place to get to know other women in the parish.
HELP IS NEEDED AT THANKSGIVING . . . Common Ground Community is an organization that seeks to help the homeless. On December 1, Saint Mary’s will host a benefit concert for Common Ground. Before then, volunteers are needed to help with two Thanksgiving dinners at The Prince George, located at 14 East 28th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues. The Prince George contains 416 permanent apartments, 50% of which are for low-income working people and 50% of which are for the formerly homeless with special needs such as mental illness, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse issues. The two dinners will be held on Monday, November 24 and Tuesday, November 25. There are two volunteer shifts for each dinner: shift one, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM and shift two, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. Fifteen volunteers are needed for each shift, on each day. If you are interested in helping, please call Father Beddingfield at 212-869-5830, extension 17 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AROUND THE PARISH . . .It was great to have Mother Mary Haddad with us on Michaelmas as celebrant and preacher for the Sung Mass. There were many guests from our neighboring parish here and it was great to welcome them on such a wonderful feast day . . . Altar flowers are needed for October 12, 19 and 26 . . . Attendance last Sunday 208, Michaelmas 104.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Feast of the Dedication of the Church
Procession & Solemn Mass 11:00 AM
Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM
Monday William Tyndale, priest
Thursday Robert Grossteste, bishop
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend John Kilgore, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.