From The Rector: Pace
Saint Mary’s is a place where we always have visitors and newer members at every service. It’s truly a given around here and it’s one of the really great things about our parish. Our response is a given too. A lot of us, lay and clergy, work very hard to make visitors feel welcome. There are always going to be people who need to know where we are or what is coming next. That’s such a blessing for us, a great blessing.
Almost all of our visitors will look to the rest of us for other cues too – when to stand, when to kneel. And most will first listen to the way we participate to find how they should join in. The principal use of the organ at Mass is to assist the congregation in singing. Hymn playing is an art well-practiced by our parish musicians. But it’s not just the organ or our choir that helps people sing. The assembly itself does.
There’s something extraordinary about a parish community that can pray together, can sing together and can read together. When this springs from a certain kind of compulsion, quite frankly it’s more than a little crazy. When this springs from a concern for each other, it can take personal and congregational prayer to a very deep place of praise. It is something I and your other priests try to encourage as those who preside at public worship.
A group of people in Saint Mary’s who want to read, sing and pray together have one very great asset in doing that – our building has extraordinarily fine acoustics. If it has a downside, it can seem to encourage solo performances by individuals, readers, singers and musicians. If we listen to one another, I think one finds that our building cries out for a unity of the Body of Christ.
A good rule of thumb is that one should sing or read loudly enough so that others can hear you but not so loud that you can’t hear others. If you are finishing every line faster or slower than most people around you, you are not praying with them. You are doing your own thing. Very occasionally that is all right, but Christian community, and we Episcopalians in particular, aim for communal prayer.
I had one boss in my career who always read faster than the congregation. He was always several words ahead of the congregation, large or small. He thought he would speed everyone up. Yet a hundred or more people do not speed up with a priest going fast. It just made the liturgy sound like a stereo that is out of sync.
As a presider in a large room I am aware that I need to be heard. I remain surprised that my voice carries so well in Saint Mary’s – not just that the room has superior acoustics but that the timbre of my own voice is much stronger than I ever thought. Then again, I’ve never been in a priest or parishioner in a building like ours.
My work also has some tricks. Our building in a real sense sets the basic parameters for reading and singing. When I’m the celebrant and I’m chanting a line where the congregation is going to join in, I start slow and then follow the congregation. One example: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. I could just plunge ahead and sing the whole thing at one pace, but I’d leave the assembly behind and I’m here not to do that. Again, I start and then I follow the congregation. At my best, and I hope it’s more often than not, I’m clear that I am here to serve. What I am getting at is that pace is a sign of something much more than performance. It’s a way we are in community with one another. It’s a sign of how attentive we are. It’s a sign of how we care.
One final word. I’m not writing to be neurotic. When I was a curate in Baton Rouge, I once made a remark about a three year-old and how I couldn’t wait for him to grow up. I can still hear in my mind Father Ralph Webster telling me in his quiet North Carolina accent, “Father, there will always be a three year-old in church.” He was right of course. And for that I am thankful. We will always have newcomers and children in church.
Saint Mary’s is a place where the parish community, the assembly of the baptized, matters profoundly. This article is a way for me to be clear about what your parish clergy are up to and what shapes our work. This article is for newcomers and old timers too. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Rick and Ronald, religious who are hospitalized, for Clare, Vesta, Jan, Ida, Brian, Mary, Michael, MaryAnne, Ray, Betty Ann, Mikhail, Deborah, Charlton, Virginia, William, Mary, Gilbert, Robert, Gloria, Marion, Joseph, Rick, Henry, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, David, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie and Derrick, and for the repose of the soul of William . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 15: 1983 Faith Trumbull Cleveland Booth; January 17: 1967 Letitia Fidelia De Sousa, 1998 John Zippler Headley; January 21: 1977 Edward Parker Amos.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 14 by Father Gerth and on Saturday, January 21 by Father Mead.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Mr. Robert McDermitt, associate organist, plays for the Solemn Mass this Sunday . . . Many thanks to parishioner Dale Bonenberger, who plays for the Sung Mass . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass is Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The postlude is Postlude in D by Healey Willan (1880-1968). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Il bianco e dolce cigno’ by Stefano Bernardi (c. 1585-1636). An Italian composer, Bernardi worked for a time in Rome and later lived in Salzburg, where composed a large-scale Te Deum for the consecration of that city’s cathedral. Much of his Church music, including today’s setting, is written in what was to him an old-fashioned style, much like the music of Palestrina (who was several generations older than Bernardi). This mass is based upon a madrigal of Jacques Arcadelt. The motet at Communion is Omnes de Saba venient by Jacob Handl (1550-1591) . . . The recital at 4:40 is played by Andrew Scanlon of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Robert McCormick
A GIFT FOR CLARE . . . A group of parishioners have begun to contribute toward a special gift for the Reverend Clare Nesmith. Clare is now a deacon and serves as curate at Saint John’s of Lattingtown in Locust Valley, New York. Her ordination to the priesthood will be on February 11, 2006. A set of white vestments is being made for her. If you would like to contribute to this gift, please make your check payable to Saint Mary’s and mark it for “Nesmith Ordination.”
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, January 16, in observance of Martin Luther King Day. The church will be open on our federal holiday schedule from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . Flowers are needed for 2006. Send your request to Sandra Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org or online http://www.stmvirgin.org/ParishClergyAndStaff: click on Reserve Flowers for Sunday and Feast days/Special Services and fill out the form . . . It costs us approximately $30 per person and $7,530.00 per year to send out the Angelus via snail mail. Join online www.stmvirgin.org and use the Angelus logo to sign up for the Angelus . . . Saint Mary’s Lenten Retreat at the Community of St. John Baptist in Mendham, New Jersey, will be held March 3 through March 5. See the brochure in the back of the church. Information on the Community can be found at http://www.csjb.org/. . . Ordo Calendars for 2006 now available in the Gift Shop . . . 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. No agenda, just Christian fellowship . . . 2006 pledge envelopes are available at the back of the Church . . . Attendance Epiphany 353, Last Sunday 319.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & FORMATION. . . Tuesday Night Bible Study does not meet this week. We will meet at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, January 24, 31, February 7, 21, 28 in Saint Benedict’s Study, and we will examine the arrest, trials, crucifixion and resurrection narratives in the Gospels. Please see the parish website for more information . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group meets on Sunday, January 22 at 1:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. The group will read Peace In The Post-christian Era by Thomas Merton . . . Sunday School meets Sundays at 10:00 AM.
KEEP THE HONDURAS MISSION TEAM IN YOUR PRAYERS . . . Joining others from the Diocese of New York and Trinity Church in Wilmington, Delaware will be four Saint Marians. Father Beddingfield, Rebecca Weiner, Andrew Smith and Kevin Claiborne will be leaving for Tegucigalpa, Honduras on January 16 for the seven-day mission trip.
THE RECTOR has been invited by our former curate, the Reverend Allen Shin, who is now chaplain at Keble College, Oxford, to preach at Keble on Sunday evening, January 22. Father Gerth will be leaving on Tuesday afternoon, January 17, and returning to the parish on Wednesday evening, January 25. He will also be preaching on Sunday morning January 22, at Saint Saviour’s Church, St. Alban’s.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Federal Holiday Schedule in observance of Martin Luther King Day
Tuesday Antony, Abbot in Egypt, 356
Eve of the Confession of Saint Peter
Wednesday The Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today.
Thursday Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095
Friday Fabian, Bishop and Martyr of Rome, 250 Abstinence
Saturday Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 304
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