The Angelus

Volume 8, Number 2

From the Rector: Our Patronal Feast

The founders of this parish, led by our first rector, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, shared in a glorious vision of Christian community and worship.  It was a vision that looked beyond the divisions within the Christian community and forward beyond the life the Christian churches and our Episcopal Church of its day knew.  They glimpsed glory and beauty in worship which could win souls to Christ.  They sought the vision glorious of man and God.  And when the opportunity arose to take this parish from its small beginnings on three lots on West 45th Street to the church home we have today, they took it.

Let’s be clear: they did it for Christ.  They believed deeply in the transforming and saving power of his love.  In a time when congregations Catholic and Protestant, high and low, were mostly spectators in worship, our founding rector committed this parish community to worship which was – in his words – a “congregational” act.  From this our parish has never wavered.

Our second and present home’s cornerstone was laid on December 8, 1894.  The first service in this building was on December 8, 1895.  The building was consecrated by the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, bishop of New York, on December 12, 1895.  From the very beginning it was under the title and patron of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

This parish has continued this journey in this place, living and linked in every way to this City of New York.  It has had its peaks and valleys.  It has never flinched.  And it has never been afraid to move forward, to seek always to take out of the treasure of Christian belief and practice what is old and what is new.

In the nineteenth century (and even today) the choice of December 8 as our patronal feast, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was an act of faith.  It called this community and the wider Episcopal Church to the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in revealing God’s mystery in Christ in new ways.  The work of the Holy Spirit continues in the Church today.

We Christians believe that there has always been a plan in the mind of God to draw all people to himself.  Mary has always been part of God’s loving design.  I myself try not to get lost in the theological web of original sin and how Mary had to be born without it so Jesus could be born without it.  God chose Mary.  God acted in her life and in the history of the world.  She was not an accident – and neither are you, me or anyone else in the eyes of our heavenly Father.  God’s plan for our lives continues to unfold.

On Wednesdays, beginning December 7, 2005, we will welcome Sister Deborah Francis from the Convent of St. John the Baptist in Mendham, New Jersey.  The Sisters have become interested in our work here.  Sister Deborah Francis will be assisting us on Wednesdays with our parish work.  (And she looks very much forward to meeting members of the congregation!)  For most of our history, there has been a religious order in residence at Saint Mary’s.  I am confident that we will write a new chapter in our history along with the Sisters from Mendham.  (Their web page:

On Thursday, December 8, 2005 we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the first service in this church building.  Our celebrant and preacher for Solemn Pontifical Mass at 6:00 PM will be the Right Reverend David Stancliffe, bishop of Salisbury.  Many will remember that he was with us last December as a Sunday celebrant when his travels brought him unexpectedly to New York.  But for him to be here as celebrant and preacher has required almost two years of advance planning.  He is bishop of one of the major dioceses of the Church of England and until very recently had served, for over a decade, as chairman of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission.  He and his wife, Sarah Stancliffe, will be with us for a week.   In addition to the Solemn Pontifical Mass on December 8, he will be celebrant for the Solemn Mass on December 4.

I know that many in the wider parish community throughout our country will be with us in prayer on December 8 for the mission of Christ in this place.  I hope very much that many of our neighbors and friends in New York will be with us too.  It will be a very special night – with a special reception afterwards, of course!  And I can’t begin to tell you how personally delighted I am that our parish will be establishing a new relationship with a religious community to share in Christ’s work in this place.  May our common life here always be worthy of the great gifts that have been given to us by God and by our brothers and sisters who have gone before us.  Stephen Gerth


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Sarah, Clair, Jan, Susan, Josephine, Ida, Brian, Mary Jean, Emil, Naila, Mary, Michael, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Mamie, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Joseph, Timothy, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick; and for the repose of the soul of Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 5: 1989 Lorelle D. Brownell Britt; December 7: 1966 Eloise Cole Janke, 1993 Lily S. M. Latham.


CHRISTMAS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . New this year on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, will be a 5:00 PM Sung Mass of the Nativity.  Christmas music for congregation and choir will be offered at 4:40 PM.  The Rector will be celebrant and preacher . . . We are honored that the Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, will be celebrant and preacher at the 11:00 PM Procession & Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Nativity.  There will be Christmas music for congregation and choir beginning at 10:30 PM . . . On Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day, the only service is Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche at 11:00 AM.  Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher.


HELP HONDURAS THIS CHRISTMAS . . . You can sponsor a season of Sunday school for a child (providing supplies, biblical materials and a snack) for $25, provide for a bunch of cinder blocks with $50, supply a family with water for six months for $75 and provide one year’s worth of hot meals for a child for $100.  Gifts can be purchased in the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop and by e-mailing Father Beddingfield at  We have already received a very generous challenge grant of $1,000 toward the hot meal program—let’s match that and more!


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the voluntaries are settings of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), BWV 659 and 660.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa super ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’ by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c. 1670-1746).  Both the voluntaries and the ordinary setting are based upon a well-known German chorale for Advent.  Fischer is recognized chiefly for his instrumental music and for a prominent role in introducing French musical styles to Germany.  The motet at Communion is Ecce Virgo concipiet by Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517) . . . The recital at 4:40 is by Martin Boehling, curator of our organ from 1965-1973 . . . On Thursday, December 8, the recital at 5:30 is by the music director and includes works of Franck, Bach and Walton . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this evening is Missa ‘Puer natus est nobis’ by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585).  This music is offered in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Tallis’s birth.  This Latin setting was written the reign of Mary Tudor when Roman Catholicism was briefly restored as the faith of England.  At that time, composers such as Tallis brought back to some extent, though not entirely, musical styles preeminent in pre-Reformation English liturgical music.  This “festal mass” (a genre common in England before the Reformation) may have been written in 1554, the same year in which Queen Mary married Philip of Spain (she may have been pregnant at the time, hence the Latin in the title: “A boy is bon”).  Robert McCormick


CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN ADVENT . . . At 10:00 AM on Sundays, Dec. 4, 11 & 18, on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, the Reverend James Ross Smith will lead The Incarnation in New Testament and Patristic Thought.  Join Father Smith and explore one of the fundamental questions of Christian theology: what is the role of Christ’s humanity in God’s plan of salvation?  This class meets . . . At 1:00 PM on the same Sundays, also on the 2nd Floor of the Mission House, the Reverend Peter R. Powell will lead an Introduction to the Gospel according to Mark.  Begin the new liturgical year by learning the basics of Saint Mark’s Gospel . . . At 7:00 PM on Tuesdays (Dec. 6, 13 and 20) in Saint Benedict’s Study, Father Mead leads the Birth of the Messiah.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Special thanks to MaryJane Boland and Ginny Singeltary for making the Advent wreath this year . . . Brother Emil Denworth is now at Park Terrace Care Center in Rego Park.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . The Christmas crèche figurines are being restored.  Gifts to help offset the cost are most welcome . . . . Please join on Tuesday, December 6 for an informal concert of Advent music at 12:45 PM (following the Said Mass) by Con Brio, an English vocal ensemble . . . Attendance last Sunday 379.


The Calendar of the Week

Sunday              The Second Sunday of Advent

Monday                     Clement of Alexandria, Priest, c. 210

Tuesday                     Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c. 342

Wednesday               Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c. 342

                                    Eve of the Immaculate Conception

Thursday          The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

Friday                        Advent Weekday                                                         Abstinence

Saturday                   Advent Weekday



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