From the Rector: Assumption
One of the most important feasts of our year at Saint Mary’s is August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you are new to Saint Mary’s I especially invite you to join us on Wednesday of this week for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. The church will be full. The music will be glorious. The reception following Mass continues our celebration.
A useful book on the Church calendar is Adolf Adam’s The Liturgical Year (The Liturgical Press, 1981). Adam writes that the first evidence of the feast is from a fifth-century lectionary from Jerusalem, written in Armenian. It’s for the “Day of Mary Mother of God.” Eventually the commemoration would spread throughout the Christian world and focus on her death. At the Reformation, the Church of England dropped all of the greater Marian feasts save two, the Annunciation and the Purification, which we know as the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (and also as “Candlemas”). With the spiritual and liturgical renewal we call “Anglo-catholicism,” parishes like ours were founded throughout the Anglican Communion. And with this renewal came the desire to re-embrace our heritage as Christians who are catholic and protestant.
Many of you know Kyle Babin, a member of our parish. He is a musician, serving as organist and choirmaster of Christ Church, Manhasset. He is also researching the history of Saint Mary’s music program for a dissertation. He and I were looking at some of the first service bulletins we have for our parish. The parish opened its doors at 228 West 45th Street on December 8, 1870.
The first service bulletin is from October 15, 1871. There were three services with music that Sunday, “High Celebration,” “Even-Song,” and “Compline.” On December 25, 1872, the service schedule is given: 1st Celebration (Low) Midnight, 2nd Celebration (Low) 7:00 AM, 3rd Celebration (Low) 8:00 AM, Morning Prayer 10:00 AM, High Celebration 11:00 AM, 2nd Vespers 4:30 PM. The schedules for Christmas 1872 and 1873 are not listed. But for Christmas 1874, there is a notation that the “1st High Mass” is now at Midnight.
It’s not clear for how many years a “High Mass” on Christmas Eve at midnight was offered, but it seems to be not more than a couple of years. It would reappear at Saint Mary’s as a regular annual service only in 1928. Our parish began to observe the Assumption in the 1930s, but with said Masses only. In 1971 the Assumption fell on a Sunday and was observed with a Solemn Mass. In 1972 the parish celebrated the Assumption on a weekday with a Solemn Mass for the first time. This has been the practice since then. It’s hard to imagine our summer without it today.
The men and women who were first called Christians don’t seem to have thought very much about Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ – or at least their thoughts and concerns were not recorded as part of the New Testament narrative. John’s gospel, for example, mentions prominently the “mother of Jesus” but never gives her name. But the Church through the years does come to care. The Church continues to grow, with God’s grace and help, in its understanding of the mystery of life, death and eternal life.
We can rejoice in the change and growth in our lives, in our Church and in our world. There are very few constants. The strength of God’s love for us is nowhere more powerful than the love of God for Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. God continues through her Son to redeem the promise he made “to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Steven, Henry, Pamela, Joan, Hilyard, Charles, Virginia, Daisy, Joseph, Marcia, Ana, Kevin, Gert, Gloria, Ray, William, Eve, Virginia, Mary, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Thomas, priest, Henry, priest, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Steve, Patrick, Brenden and Christopher; and for the repose of the soul of Tony . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 12: 1987 Toyoko Anne Tsutsumi Morton; August 15: 1963 Rose Macchia, 1971 Elvira Horg Oyx.
ASSUMPTION SCHEDULE . . . Eve of the Assumption, Tuesday, August 14, 6:00 PM: Solemn Evensong; The Assumption, Wednesday, August 15, 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Sung Mass, 6:00 PM Solemn Mass. There is an organ recital at 5:30 PM. A reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall follows the evening Mass.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We are delighted to announce that the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on the Feast of Annunciation, Tuesday, April 1, 2008 . . . Father Beddingfield’s class “Handmaiden and Mother of God” continues on Sunday, August 12, following the Solemn Mass . . . Many thanks to George Handy, Dennis Smith and Esther and Tom Kamm for work on the annual Assumption Appeal mailing . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 11, and on Saturday, August 18, by Father Gerth . . .The annual Saint Vincent’s Guild Barbecue is Saturday, August 18. (Saint Vincent’s is Saint Mary’s guild for all who serve at the altar) . . . Attendance last Sunday 242, Transfiguration 71.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is an improvisation on ‘Leoni’. The postlude is Fuge a-moll, BWV 543.ii by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The cantor is Ms. Elizabeth Baber, soprano. The music during Communion is Komm in mein Herzenhaus from Bach’s Cantata, BWV 80 (Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott) . . . On Wednesday, the Assumption, the organ recital at 5:30 PM is played by the music director and includes works of Bach, Widor and Parry. At the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Assumpta est Maria’ by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). Often regarded as the greatest of the late Renaissance masters (perhaps his only rivals are William Byrd and Orlande de Lassus), most of Palestrina’s career was spent in Rome (his name comes from the town of his birth, not far from Rome). He was a boy chorister at St. Mary Major, and at various points in his career was maestro di cappella of the Basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. Palestrina composed an extraordinary quantity of liturgical music including 104 masses. A number of these were based upon his own motets (including today’s setting; the motet is sung at Communion). This late setting for six-part choir is one of the composer’s most beloved works. The postlude is Improvisation sur le “Te Deum” by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) and reconstructed by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). Robert McCormick
OUR SUMMER SEMINARIAN . . . Simon Morris returns to England on Friday, August 17. He is preparing for the priesthood at Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford, and will be ordained in June 2008. We are delighted that he was given this placement by his theological college and we look forward very much to him visiting the parish in the years to come.
A WEEKDAY COMMEMORATION . . . On Tuesday, August 14, the Episcopal Church commemorates the life and witness of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, seminarian from the Church of the Advent, Boston, who was shot and killed while saving the life of another person during the struggle for Civil Rights in Alabama 1965. Our commemoration will be on August 14 at the 12:10 PM Mass.
NEWS FROM THE VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . During the summer months the Visual Arts Program has been showing the work of Gaetano LaRoche in Saint Joseph’s Hall gallery. Born in Rhode Island in 1965, Gaetano is a graduate of New York’s prestigious Cooper Union (BFA, 1987) and the Rhode Island College (MAT in Art Education, 1992). Gaetano is a teacher in the New York City school system and has done work in the University of Wisconsin’s Program in Urban Education (1986) and in the doctoral program in Arts Education and Art at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Gaetano first came to Saint Mary’s to attend the parish’s concert series. While here, he read about the Visual Arts Program’s work and goals and asked if the program would be interested in exhibiting some of his work. Until recently, most of Gaetano’s work has been “secular” in nature, but he has recently begun to explore a variety of spiritual themes. The work now being shown includes a controversial Saint Sebastian, which is flanked by two paintings of angels (on the north wall), two paintings depicting New Testament scenes (executed in a style somewhat reminiscent of Coptic or Ethiopic drawings), and a painting of an archangel done in Gaetano’s more typically expressionist manner (all three of which are on the west wall). Our curator is particularly pleased that the gallery’s work has begun to attract artists who have begun to explore spiritual themes in their work; he is also happy that some of Gaetano’s work has been perceived as provocative and has inspired conversation about the nature of art, spirituality, sanctity, martyrdom, iconography, the body, and canons of artistic and spiritual “propriety.” To see more of Gaetano’s work you may access his website at http://www.gaetanolaroche.com.
FROM THE STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE . . . From one of our parishioners: “When I returned after many years away from church, finding my place with regard to stewardship and pledging wasn’t easy. On a tract rack in another church, I found a little pamphlet about pledging. Question: shouldn’t I give until it hurts? Answer: No, you should give until it makes you feel good. It was right. My now very high level of financial commitment to Saint Mary’s gives me a sense of joy and of commitment to the future of my church family,"
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, 1667
Tuesday Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian, 1965
Eve of The Assumption
Wednesday The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Please see the newsletter for the service schedule for Assumption Eve and Day.
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Mass. 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.
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.