From the Rector: New Year, Visitation, Patronal Feast, & Curate
In this year of grace, the new Church year begins as the sun sets on Saturday, December 1, as the First Sunday of Advent arrives. The Bishop of New York, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, will make his formal visitation of the parish on Friday, December 7, at 6:00 PM, when we will be celebrating our patronal feast. And I am also delighted and honored to announce that the Reverend James Ross Smith will become our next curate. Our parish community is receiving many gifts as Advent begins. And have I mentioned that the 2008 Stewardship Campaign is well underway?
“Advent” means “coming.” Records suggest that Advent emerged clearly in the Roman Church in the sixth century, though there are echoes of it in earlier centuries (See Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year: Its History & Its Meaning After the Reform of the Liturgy, Collegeville, 1981). When Father Louis Weil, professor of liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, was with us at the beginning of Lent this year, he spoke of the concept of “liturgical bleeding.” Advent is a season into which a secondary purpose of Lent (penitence for those already baptized) almost took over (“bled into”) an entirely different season (Advent).
Advent is really about preparation to celebrate Christmas. The Church does this with some sobriety, shaped historically by Advent becoming almost another Lent. But it isn’t Lent. It’s Advent. It is a season of many joys. If Advent is new to you, I promise you its treasures will unfold wonderfully. Reserving the celebration of Christmas until Christmas – December 25 is the first of the Twelve Days, not the last – can do much for one’s soul. My own favorite entrance song of the year comes this Sunday at the Solemn Mass. As the ministers enter, the choir sings the first verse of Psalm 25, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you.” It’s a great way for the Church to begin its year.
Every three years the bishop of the diocese makes a visitation of each parish in his or her diocese to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and to make a review of the ministry of the parish. Happily, our bishop is able to be with us for this visitation on our patronal feast. December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the great days of the year in our common life at Saint Mary’s. Although the parish was incorporated on October 22, 1868, the first service in the first church at 228 West 45th Street was held on December 8, 1870. The cornerstone of our second and present church home was laid on December 8, 1894. The first service was held here on December 8, 1895. The founders of our parish were very aware that December 8 had taken on new importance after the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. The great painting behind our high altar is about the Immaculate Conception; that is, Mary, by special election and grace, was conceived without “original” sin. Most happily, the generous ecumenical spirit of our parish’s founding vision has been wonderfully upheld in the recent work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” (2004). [It is available online on the webpage of the Episcopal Church.] There is much all Christians can affirm about Mary and about our election as God’s children.
Finally, Father Smith! I can’t begin to express my own personal delight that Jay has felt called to be curate at Saint Mary’s. He has been associated with the parish since 1998. Hundreds of us already know and love him. He brings an extraordinary education and range of gifts to us. He is a priest and preacher of the first order. Sunday, December 9, 2007, will be Father Smith’s eighteenth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. He will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM Sung Mass and the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass that day. I will introduce him more fully in next week’s newsletter, but I think you will want this news now. Stephen Gerth
2008 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . To date, we have received $327,349 in commitments for 2008, or 59.7% of our goal. We have $220,000 left to go. Included in the tally so far are almost $30,000 in commitments from new pledgers, and returning pledges are averaging 12.5% higher than 2007! Thanks to everyone for the generous response, and we look forward to hearing from the rest of you soon. Steven Heffner, treasurer
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Wayne, Lois, Terry, Mary, Jane, José, Jack, Gert, Ana, Kevin, Gloria, William, Gilbert, Rick, Seamus, Carl, priest, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Steven, Andrew, Patrick, Brenden, Christopher, Marc and Steve; and for the repose of the souls of Michael A. Burke and Lucille Riley . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 3: 1990 Francis Timothy Dlugos, 1991 Mrs. Olga Edgar; December 5: 1989 Lorelle D. Brownell Britt.; December 7: 1966 Eloise Cole Janke, 1993 Lily S. M. Latham.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: This Sunday at 10:00 AM, Bishop Grein’s Class on the Parables of Jesus meets in the Mission House . . . Saint Vincent’s Guild will meet after the Solemn Mass on Sunday, December 2 . . . You can help decorate the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 22, Sunday December 23, and on Monday, December 24. Please speak with Dale Bonenberger or MaryJane Boland if you can help one or more days! . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, December 1, and Father Mead on Saturday, December 8 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 391.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa super ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’ by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c. 1670-1746). The prelude, the ordinary setting and Communion motet (by Samuel Scheidt, [1587-1654]) are based upon a German chorale for Advent, found in The Hymnal 1982 as Savior of the nations, come. Fischer, a German Baroque composer who is not well known today, is recognized chiefly for his instrumental music and for a prominent role in introducing French musical styles to Germany. This piece is written in the stile antico, the style of Renaissance choral music (with which Fischer would have been well acquainted); nonetheless, it possesses many stylistic traits of the Baroque period. The postlude is Bach’s Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 . . . The recital at 4:40 PM is by Katherine Meloan . . . On the Eve of the Immaculate Conception, the organ recital at 5:30 PM is by the music director and includes works of Tournemire, Dupré, Langlais and Hancock. At Friday’s Solemn Mass, the setting of the ordinary is Messe solennelle (1951) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991), the French composer and organist who was blind from a young age. This past February saw the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. Langlais’ music often has a certain “ancient” sound, in part due to modally-inflected harmonies. This great work is for choir and two organs. Many French churches have two organs: the grand orgue in the gallery and the orgue de choeur (with the choir, as the name implies) in the chancel. At Saint Mary’s we have only one organ, but the alternation between full choir and full organ produces an electrifying effect. The Communion anthem is Judge eternal by Gerre Hancock (b. 1934), who was from 1971 to 2004 organist and master of choristers at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Dr. Hancock was an improvisation student of Jean Langlais . . . Ye who own the faith of Jesus (tune: Daily, Daily) is sung at the offertory on Friday evening. The text is by English priest Vincent Stuckey Stratton Coles (1845-1929), with the exception of verse 4, which is by American priest Francis Bland Tucker (1895-1984). Coles was committed to the Catholic wing of the Church of England, and his text expresses sentiments held dear by the Catholic movement: prayer for the departed, the intercession of saints and, most notably, devotion to the Virgin Mary. The French tune has a riveting militaristic air. Robert McCormick
FIRST MEETING OF NEW VOLUNTEER CHOIR . . . This Sunday, December 2, at 3:00 PM, there is an initial meeting for those interested in the new volunteer choir. We will meet in the choir room to discuss plans, enjoy refreshments and sing just a little. All that’s required is an ability to match pitch and a willingness to learn. All interested persons are welcome, but please let me know beforehand if you plan to come (212-869-5830, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org). Currently, we plan to begin rehearsing weekly on Sunday, January 13, and sing our first service, Evensong & Benediction, on Sunday, February 3 (and once or twice a month from then on). R.M.
THE GIFT SHOP . . . We invite you to visit Saint Mary’s Gift Shop. In addition to Saint Mary’s mugs, T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps, we also carry Christmas cards, art objects, crosses, rosaries and CDs produced by several of our very talented choristers. One new item is New York Polyphony’s CD I Sing the Birth. We are also selling gift cards designed to support the parish’s Honduras mission; come and browse, come to support the work of the parish, or just come to say hello!
CLERGY FRIEND NEWS . . . The Reverend Jeffrey D. Lee, rector, Saint Thomas’ Church, Medina, Washington, was elected twelfth bishop of the Diocese of Chicago on November 10. Father Lee was preacher for our patronal feast in 2003 when the then Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, (and tenth bishop of Chicago) was celebrant. We look forward to welcoming him again to Saint Mary’s very soon . . . Former Saint Mary’s seminarian, the Reverend E. Clare Nesmith, was recently appointed director of Episcopal Charities for the Diocese of Long Island.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday of Advent
Monday Advent Weekday
Tuesday John of Damascus, Priest, c. 760
Wednesday Clement of Alexandria, Priest, c. 210
Thursday Nicholas, Bishop, c. 342
Friday Ambrose, Bishop, c. 397 Abstinence
Eve of the Conception Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday Immaculate Conception Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
Eve of the Second Sunday of Advent
Sunday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong and 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.
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.