From the Rector: The Sunday of the Resurrection
Easter music has been creeping into the offices (and into the rectory – no wimpy organ at SMV!) this week. It’s not Easter as I write. It’s the last morning in Lent, which will end tonight at sunset. The Church then enters the Easter Triduum, the Three Days when we celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection.
Easter music and Easter smells are alive in my mind all through the year. One of the most surprising and pleasing scents for me is that of honey that one can smell on the morning of Good Friday at the altar of repose. So many beeswax candles will have burned all night in the Mercy Chapel that the scent of honey hangs in the air amidst the flowers and the lingering fragrances of the incense. That smell of honey in the chapel brings to mind that wonderful line we hear proclaimed in the Exsultet, the great Easter Proclamation sung at the beginning of the Great Vigil,
Therefore, O holy Father, accept the evening sacrifice of this lighted candle, which your holy Church makes before you, and offers to you by the hands of your servants, the work of the bees, your creatures. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness, as we celebrate the glad solemnity of our redemption.
Worship is a living tradition. It is grounded in the mysteries of God, humankind and salvation history. It is always evolving because humankind and history, not God, are creatures of time. God’s loving providence extends to all of his creation. You and I are part of this unfolding of salvation history. We gather as a community to journey to the Sunday of the Resurrection. Our community changes from year to year. Our worship changes from year to year. Our lives change from year to year. Through our worship as a community we are joined to God’s plan to bring all people to himself.
A good story can often be helpful in an article or in the pulpit. I love to use them when I know one. But the facts are what really matter. Jesus died and rose from the dead. He gave his living Spirit to his disciples and commissioned them to call others into his living Body, the Church. We believe in life and in eternal life.
The principal Mass of the Resurrection is celebrated as the Third Day begins at sunset on Holy Saturday. (Again, on its most sacred days, the Church reckons time as Jesus did.) The Mass is known as the Great Vigil of Easter. It is the principal liturgy of the entire year. On Easter morning there are three more celebrations of the Eucharist. The Solemn Mass of Easter Day is especially glorious. But these Easter Sunday morning Masses are in origin a pastoral offering and are very rich in their own right. But the main work of the Church happens as Christ rises again in our midst in Holy Baptism in the persons he is calling to new life and faith. Baptism is resurrection in our midst. The context for baptism is the greatest service of the year. Nowhere is it celebrated with more integrity than here at Saint Mary’s.
The Great Vigil of Easter is celebrated on Saturday, March 26, at 7:00 PM. On Easter morning, Morning Prayer is sung at 8:30 AM. There are three Masses, Said Mass with Hymns at 9:00 AM, Sung Mass at 10:00 AM and Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.
On Easter Day a special form of Evening Prayer is celebrated to conclude the Sunday of the Resurrection, Solemn Paschal Evensong at 5:00 PM. The full choir will sing. The texts and the music are particularly glorious. At the end of Evensong during Benediction Luke’s account of the disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus is read. It is one of the most powerful moments of the Three Days.
I try to put my worries aside during the Three Days and to the extent possible to let the Church’s story and life be my story and life. I try as hard as I can for one of the songs in my heart to be not “I have decided to follow Jesus” but “We have decided to follow Jesus.” Because it is with the Church in this place and through time that I live in Christ. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jane who is hospitalized, for Barbara, Charlton, Patrick, Eileen, John, Virginia, Mary, Ruth, William, Thomas, Brian, Deborah, May, Tanya, Ibo, Pamela, Penn, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Kay, Bart, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Joseph, Brenden, Christopher, David, Nestor, Freddie, Patrick, Derrick and Christina and for the repose of the souls of Pamela and June . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 26: 1966 Frances Duckworth Young; March 29: 1964 Robert Edward Cerra, 1997 Brice Linville; March 30: 1968 Mabel Helen Arends.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Pamela Deane, sister of Winston Deane, died on March 19. A Mass of the Resurrection was held for her on Wednesday at Saint George’s Church, Brooklyn, New York . . . June Lennon, the mother of our parishioner June Lennon, died on March 21. Please pray for Pamela, June and all those who mourn. May their souls and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
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 third time of asking. S.G.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, March 28. The regular worship schedule is observed . . . Be sure to read the article concerning the Solemn Reproaches of Good Friday posted on our Internet site by Father Louis Weil. Father’s article discusses some of the history of these ancient prayers and the current debate over possible anti-Semitism . . . The parish clergy do not sit for confessions, except by appointment, on Saturday in Easter Week (or on Saturdays during the Twelve Days of Christmas) . . . No Christian formation classes will meet during Easter Week . . . MISSION NOTES . . . On Sunday, April 17 and Sunday, May 22, join us for “High Worship and High Hopes: Anglo-Catholicism and Social Change,” a discussion based on writings of those who have seen the close connection between worship and social outreach. The group meets in Saint Benedict’s Study from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM. .Attendance Palm Sunday 454.
FRIDAYS IN EASTERTIDE are not observed with special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord as are the Weekdays of Lent and the ordinary Fridays of the year.
NEW ICON EXHIBITION . . . The Visual Arts Program at Saint Mary’s presents a new exhibition, “Sacred Art, Sacred Breath,” March 26 through April 9. The exhibition consists of icons that were written by participants in the icon workshop led by Patricia Miranda last November at Saint Mary’s.
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
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . At the Great Vigil of Easter, the choir sings The Office of Holy Communion ‘Collegium Regale’ by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). This setting was composed in 1956 as part of a collection of liturgical music, begun in 1944, for the choir of King’s College, Cambridge (hence the Latin ascription in the title). Like much of the composer’s choral music, this work is atmospheric and diverse in style and mood, though a sense of deep joy pervades throughout most of it, particularly in Gloria in excelsis Deo . . . On Easter Day, the setting of the Mass ordinary is The Mass ‘Euge bone’ by Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1572). A magnificent work that dates from a transitional period of English Church music (due to the Reformation), it is more than likely a “parody mass” based on an unknown composition. It may have been Tye’s Doctoral exercise from Cambridge University in 1545. The music features two tenor parts and two bass parts and only one treble (soprano) part and one alto part, creating an unusually “thick” choral sound (even though the treble part is very high in range). The motet at Communion is Dum transisset Sabbatum, the first of two settings of this text by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545), probably the most important English composer in the generation preceding Tye. It features resplendent sections for full choir, including the typical English high treble part, alternating with verses in plainsong . . . Robert McDermitt plays the organ recital at 4:30 PM . . . At Solemn Paschal Evensong, the choir sings the canticles to Howells’s Gloucester Service, written for the choir of Gloucester Cathedral in 1946. It is an expansive and evocative setting of the text, and the beginning of Magnificat is particularly memorable for its two interwoven soprano parts, perhaps one of the most ethereal moments in Howells’s compositional output. The music at Benediction is by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971), one of the great French organists and composers of the 20th century. O salutaris Hostia was written for his own Church of Saint Sulpice, Paris, and Tantum ergo was composed for Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Robert McCormick
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Monday Monday in Easter Week
Tuesday Tuesday in Easter Week
Wednesday Wednesday in Holy Week
Thursday Thursday in Easter Week
Friday Friday in Easter Week No Abstinence
Saturday Saturday in Easter Week
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.