From the Rector: Holy Week II
As the ministers of the liturgy enter for the principal Mass of Palm Sunday, the solemn rite greets and challenges the assembly of the baptized with these words, “Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. O King of Israel: Hosanna in the highest.” These words address the Lord Jesus Christ, reigning in heaven, and his Body, the pilgrim Church here on earth.
Sometimes I can forget the meaning of familiar words and terms. I always remember that “Christ” means “anointed, greased.” A footnote in the The New Oxford Annotated Bible at the beginning of Matthew reminds me, “The Hebrew and Aramaic form of the word Jesus and he will save are similar.” “Hosanna” is a word only found in three of our gospels, Matthew, Mark and John. It’s an acclamation that means “O save!” Holy Week is a time of proclamation and celebration of God’s saving work among us through the Lord Jesus.
The Easter Triduum is the heart of Holy Week and of the entire Christian year. On these three days (Latin: triduum), the Church still reckons liturgical time as the first Christians did, according to the Hebrew tradition. Lent ends on Thursday at sunset. The first day of the Easter Triduum thus begins on sunset of Maundy Thursday. The second day begins at sunset on Good Friday. The third day begins at sunset on Saturday. A special form of Evening Prayer is used on the third day to conclude the celebration of the Three Days.
The first liturgy of the Triduum is called “The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.” We celebrate this liturgy beginning at 6:00 PM on Maundy Thursday (the general name in use among English-speaking Christians for Thursday in Holy Week – it’s a nickname from the Latin “mandatum,” that is, “command”).
The Maundy Thursday Gospel is from John’s account of Jesus’ supper with the disciples. Jesus washes the feet of all of them, including Judas. Peter does not want Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus is unmoved by his protestation. After washing their feet he tells them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). At Saint Mary’s everyone is invited to sit to have his or her feet washed and then to wash the feet of another.
The entire money offering at this Mass is for the poor. Please be sacrificial in your gift. Our offerings are collected while the congregation sings the ancient offertory song appointed for this Mass, “Where true charity and love dwell, God himself is there.”
During the Great Thanksgiving sufficient bread and wine are consecrated for the Communion of the Church during this Mass and at the liturgy of Good Friday. After the ministration of Communion, the Sacrament for Good Friday is carried in solemn procession to another altar. At Saint Mary’s this “altar of repose” is the Mercy Chapel altar. The church will be open all night for prayer in response to our Lord’s question to his disciples, “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mark 13:37b). [Only the West 46th Street door closest to the Mercy Chapel remains open all night. A guard will be on duty.]
On Good Friday Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. At Saint Mary’s the Good Friday liturgy is celebrated twice, at 12:30 PM and at 6:00 PM. The services are identical except that the preacher at the 12:30 PM liturgy will be the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York. I will preach at the evening service.
On Saturday morning, Easter Eve, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. Then the work begins! The church and the altars (and Saint Joseph’s Hall!) will be prepared for the celebration of the Great Vigil of Easter. This is the principal Mass of the year. Bishop Grein is celebrant and preacher. We begin at 7:00 PM. A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
On Easter Day, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. Father Beddingfield is celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Said Mass with Hymns. I am celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass. At 4:30 PM associate organist Robert McDermitt will play a recital. The full parish choir will sing at Solemn Paschal Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM. The Reverend Louis Weil, James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, will preach at this special form of Evening Prayer for Easter Day.
These are the services I think everyone should attend if at all possible: Maundy Thursday 6:00 PM, Good Friday 12:30 PM or 6:00 PM, the Great Vigil of Easter, Easter Eve 7:00 PM, and Solemn Paschal Evensong, Easter Day 5:00 PM. I will be at all of the others too! By long Christian tradition you may come to the Easter Vigil and to one of the Masses on Easter Day (and again receive Easter Communion). I think Saint Mary’s is the only ordinary parish church in the country that sings Morning and Evening Prayer throughout Holy Week. But the services I have listed as the ones to attend if at all possible are the core liturgies of Easter Triduum.
I cannot begin to do justice to the richness of the tradition of the Church or the richness of the tradition of this special parish community here in Times Square. Pope Paul VI famously remarked at the Second Vatican Council before he was pope, “The liturgy was instituted for human beings, not human beings for the liturgy.” That being said, the liturgy is the great gift of Christian tradition to help us know who we are, to help us know God loves us completely and to give us the courage to do the work he gives us to do. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for June, Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Jane, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, May, Tanya, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 22: 1971 Mary E. Fargher; March 24: 1952 Ida Mary Steifel.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS of Marriage between the Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery of Brooklyn and Diane France Louise Vassiliki Eliopoulos of Brooklyn. If any of you knows just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. S.G.
CONFESSIONS . . . On Saturday, March 19, Father Montgomery will hear confessions at 11:30 AM and Father Gerth will hear confessions at 4:00 PM . . . On Good Friday, Father Gerth, Father Smith and Father Weil will hear confessions after the 12:30 PM liturgy. Father Gerth and Father Beddingfield will hear confessions after the 6:00 PM liturgy.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . March 18 at 7:00 PM will be the final Stations of the Cross for Lent 2005. Please join us! . . . Saint Mary’s Guild and Saint Vincent’s Guild Alert: Those not attending the diocesan ordinations will begin work on Saturday, March 19, at 10:30 AM. The rehearsal for the Palm Sunday Solemn Mass will be at 3:00 PM . . . Father Mead’s Tuesday night Bible study will not meet for the next two weeks….Many thanks to our mailing team, George Handy, Esther Kamm and Rosie Talbird, for preparing the Easter mailing . . . Attendance last Sunday 250.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Palm Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary (on this day, only Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung) is Mass fir Mixed Chorus, Opus 84 by Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987). Persichetti, a Philadelphia native, worked as a Church musician in his youth; for much of his career he was on the faculty of the Juilliard School, including a period as chairman of the composition department. This unaccompanied setting was composed in 1960 for New York’s Collegiate Chorale, a distinguished choir that remains active today and in fact presented a concert at Saint Mary’s this past January. Persichetti employed traditional compositional techniques in this work, including counterpoint and plainsong thematic material, but his strikingly “modern” harmonic language gives a distinctly mystical and haunting effect . . . The service leaflets for each of the Triduum liturgies will provide details on that day’s choral music. Maundy Thursday features Missa brevis by American composer Jackson Hill (b. 1941) and on Good Friday a haunting and powerful setting of the Reproaches by John Sanders (1933-2003) will be sung. Music at the Easter Vigil is by Howells and Stanford, and great music of the English Renaissance will be sung at the Solemn Mass of Easter Day (Tye and Taverner). The Easter Day recital by Robert McDermitt at 4:30 features works of Marchand, Buxtehude, Elgar and Bach. The full choir sings for Solemn Paschal Evensong, including the canticles to Gloucester Service by Herbert Howells (1892-1983) and hymns for Benediction by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). Robert McCormick
HANDMAIDEN OR MOTHER OF GOD? THE VIRGIN MARY IN PROTESTANT THEOLOGY . . . On Monday nights, April 18 to May 16, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Taught by Father Beddingfield, this class will explore attitudes toward the Virgin Mary arising from scripture, tradition, creeds, popular devotion and theological reflection. The class is offered through the Center for Christian Studies at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and will take place at 7 West 55th Street. For information on registration and suggested readings see www.christianstudies.org.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Monday Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Holy Week
The Easter Triduum
Good Friday Strict Fast & Abstinence.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, The Reverend Matthew Mead, curates,
The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.