From the Rector: Presentation
February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. It is based on the account in Luke’s gospel of the bringing of the infant Jesus to the temple on the fortieth day after his birth. Along with the feast of the Annunciation on March 25, it is one of two “Christmas” celebrations outside of the Christmas Season. Here at Saint Mary’s it is one of the great annual celebrations in the life of our parish community.
As is our custom, our celebration begins on Wednesday, February 1, the eve of the Presentation, with Evening Prayer and the 6:20 PM Mass. On Thursday morning at 8:30 AM, Morning Prayer will be chanted – yes, the Morning Prayer regulars at Saint Mary’s are a singing lot on feasts of our Lord. The 12:10 liturgy will be a simple Sung Mass. The Thursday evening service, Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass, is our principal celebration. The Reverend Philip North, priest administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, England, will preach. A reception follows the evening Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
A year ago I was in Rome for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. While I was there I met Father North. His predecessor, the Reverend Martin Warner, now canon pastor at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, was with us in September 2000. I mentioned to Philip the possibility of coming to us to preach at Candlemas and he said he would be delighted. As it turns out, he will be in the United States this week to launch the U.S. portion of a new capital campaign for Walsingham. (See details in this newsletter about an event at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue on Monday, January 30.) But he comes to us to preach the gospel – of course, Father will be delighted to answer questions about the appeal! I know you will be delighted to meet him and to welcome him to the parish.
Especially for those who are new to Saint Mary’s, I want to remind you that the Solemn Mass of the day includes some special ceremonies involving the distribution, blessing and lighting of candles. I’m not sure when the candle rite was introduced to this liturgy – one online source (New Advent) said the eleventh century – but the association of candles, light and Christ in the middle of the winter is very appealing. In addition, the hymnody for our evening Mass is really great.
The Feast of the Presentation has two other names, “Candlemas” (candles plus Mass) and “Purification.” The latter refers to the Virgin Mary and the Jewish rites associated with childbirth. The preferred name for the day focuses on what is most important in Luke’s account, the bringing of the child Jesus to the temple. There seems to be a special symmetry in the bringing of the child by Mary and Joseph and his recognition as the Light and Savior by the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:22-40).
For yours truly, Candlemas is the seventh anniversary of my first Mass at Saint Mary’s. And my first Mass here was a Solemn Mass. I believe Candlemas also was Father Wells’s (my predecessor) first Mass as rector. I know it was the date of institution of Father Donald Garfield as the seventh rector of Saint Mary’s.
It still seems a stunning act of grace in my life that I should have been called here as rector. I cannot begin to express my thankfulness to you who called me here to grow and who have been willing to work and grow with me. We are stewards of an extraordinary tradition within the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and the wider community of Christians. I thank you for your continuing confidence in the journey of Saint Mary’s. I can’t recall from whom I heard the phrase that Saint Mary’s is a place where prayer and mission matter more than issues. I hope that will always be true of this wonderful parish. Thank you for your presence and your prayers. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Henry, Clare, Vesta, Jan, Ida, Brian, Mary, Michael, MaryAnne, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Ana, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Rich, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Henry, Ronald, religious, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 2: 1985 Walter Phelps Warren, John Doy Woods; February 3: 1983 Van Buren Chaney.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Blessing of Throats is offered during the Masses on Saint Blase’s Day, Friday, February 3. Christians far and wide have asked for the prayers of Saint Blase, a fourth century Armenian bishop, for healing since the Middle Ages. Since the seventh century he has had a special association with afflictions of the throat. The blessing includes the use of lighted candles in a special holder.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 711 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Bach’s Praludium und Fuge A-dur, BWV 536. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1512-1562). Though he was Protestant, Hassler, a student in Venice of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586), wrote a good amount of Latin music for Roman Catholic liturgy (in addition to madrigals, keyboard music and instrumental music). This Mass setting is one of his most popular, and is admired for its beauty and brevity. The motet at Communion is Hassler’s Iubilate Deo . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by Mark Trautman of New Brunswick, New Jersey . . . On Candlemas, the recital at 5:30 is played by the music director, and includes works of Bach, Howells and Gigout . . . At the Solemn Mass, music at the candle lighting is Nunc dimittis (Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense) by Michael Tippett (1905-1998). This setting of the canticle (in addition to a setting of Magnificat) was written in 1961, as the title indicates, for the choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, England. Considered one of England’s most important 20th century composers, much of Tippett’s diverse output remains widely performed, including recent productions of his opera The Midsummer Marriage at the Royal Opera House, London, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis, Opus 50 by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). Leighton was born in Wakefield, England, and his unique musical language (including lyrical melodies combined with chromaticism, and later in his career, use of serial techniques) earned him great respect as a composer. This striking setting for unaccompanied choir was written in 1968 for the choir of Liverpool Cathedral. The anthem at Communion is The Lamb by John Tavener (b. 1944). The postlude is Final from Symphonie III, Opus 28 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937). Robert McCormick
APPEAL FOR WALSINGHAM . . . The newly formed ward of the Society of Mary at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue invites you to join them for a reception and program at Saint Thomas on Monday, January 30. The Ward will welcome the chair of the Walsingham Appeal, the Right Reverend Alan Chesters, retired bishop of Blackburn, and the chair of the American Appeal for Walsingham, the Reverend Andrew Sloane, rector, Saint Paul’s Parish, Washington, D.C. Mass will be at 5:30 PM. There is a reception at 6:00 PM. The program is at 7:00 PM.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Tickets are on sale for the concert by our choir on Thursday, February 9 at 7:30 PM. The music includes a rarely-heard and glorious Renaissance masterwork by John Taverner, Missa ‘Gloria tibi Trinitas’, as well as Herbert Howells’s Te Deum (Collegium Regale) and Bach’s “St. Anne” Fugue, played by Robert McDermitt. For tickets, call 212.869.5830, ext. 25, see www.stmvirgin.org/MusicatSaintMarys, or speak to MaryJane Boland after the Solemn Mass this Sunday and on Candlemas. R.M.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember: Movie Night is Friday, January 27. Please call or email the office for details . . . Brochures for the March 3-5 Lenten retreat are in the back of the church . . . 2006 pledge envelopes are available at the back of the Church . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, January 30, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Flowers are needed for 2006. Send your request to Sandra Schubert at email@example.com or online, http://www.stmvirgin.org/ParishClergyAndStaff. Click on Reserve Flowers for Sunday and Feast Days/Special Services and fill out the form . . . Lunch with Sister Deborah Francis continues on Wednesdays after the 12:10 Mass. Bring a lunch and eat with Sister and others in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Sister Deborah Francis is also available to meet with persons for spiritual direction on Wednesday afternoons. Please contact Father Beddingfield to schedule an appointment . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 28 by Father Beddingfield and on Saturday, February 4 by Father Gerth . . . Attendance last Sunday 250.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION . . . The Tuesday Night Bible Study meets at 7:00 PM on Tuesdays (January 31; February 7, 21 and 28) in Saint Benedict’s Study. We will examine the arrest, trials, crucifixion and resurrection narratives in the gospels. This week we are studying accounts of the trial of Jesus before the Jewish authorities. Please see the parish website for more information . . . Sunday School meets on Sundays at 10:00 AM . . . Coming in Lent: On Sundays throughout Lent the Reverend Peter Powell, president, Interfaith Housing Association, Westport, Connecticut, will lead a class on the prophet Jeremiah. Matthew Mead
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Wednesday Brigid, 523
Eve of the Presentation 6:00 PM
Thursday The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday Blase, Bishop and Martyr, c. 316 Abstinence
Saturday Cornelius the Centurion
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass,
6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass