From Mr. Kennerley: Come, let us sing unto the Lord!
One may well be surprised that a member of the lay staff at Saint Mary’s is writing this week’s Angelus article: indeed, looking back over the archives of past articles, I think this may be the first time that a Music Director has written one! I am grateful to my colleagues, the curates, for giving me the opportunity, and I hope that it might offer them some relief during Father Gerth’s sabbatical. I want to write about singing, and how we might use this distinctly personal gift as part of our Lenten journey towards the glory of Eastertide.
Saint Mary’s is justly renowned for its musical offerings. We have a world-class professional choir and an historic Aeolian-Skinner organ, as well as a near-perfect acoustic for music-making. But more importantly, we have an accomplished and enthusiastic congregation that makes music through that unique, distinctly personal instrument, the human voice. Psalm 147 begins with the proclamation: “How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.” There are scores of passages in the Bible that link singing to the worship of God.
Singing is certainly the most ancient form of music-making. It is arguably the most expressive and deeply individualized form of human communication. In the words of Otto Jespersen, a Dutch linguist: “Men sang out their feelings long before they were able to speak their thoughts.” Primitive peoples sang to invoke their gods with prayers and incantations, celebrate their rites of passage with chants and songs, and recount their history and heroics with ballads and epics. Within the context of the Catholic liturgy, music and singing unify our prayers and envelop us with a distinct awareness of the presence of God. At the same time, however, music draws our attention to silence, the audible surrender to the mystery which is both Christ and the Church. It is surely one of our greatest gifts.
Services at Saint Mary’s, of course, present many opportunities for congregational singing. Hymns, responses, prayers, canticles and psalms adorn and enhance the various liturgical forms. Our wonderful choir leads the singing at Solemn Mass, and the Saint Mary’s Singers, or a visiting choir, leads the congregation during Solemn Evensong and Benediction. I remember my first “big” service – the Feast of the Assumption 2008 – when the Rector suggested that I stop playing during that great Marian hymn “Hail Mary full of grace.” I thought that things would collapse: I had images of complete catastrophe as choir, congregation and Altar party moved apart in pace and pitch! But, to my happy surprise, and through that wonderfully unifying act of hymn-singing, resonant and synchronized harmonies reflected off the vaulted ceiling and wafted up into the organ loft. During Lent, you will notice that our mighty organ is all but silenced. There are no preludes, postludes, or improvised “traveling” music. Let us then use this opportunity to raise our voices and awaken, strengthen and energize our communal worship with renewed vigor.
We have a series of special sung services during Lent, Stations of the Cross, on Fridays at 7:00 PM. It’s a very simple, but powerful, service of prayer and meditation on the Stations, and lasts about forty minutes. At each station we sing a verse of the hymn “Stabat mater dolorosa.” The simplicity of the plainsong and the immediacy of the words, combined with the literal journey between the Stations, inspire a distinctly focused meditation on Christ’s final hours. Come, also, to Solemn Evensong and Benediction on Sundays at 5:00 PM. The service is one of the most prayerful communal acts, particularly through the congregational plainsong psalms. If you feel that you would like more opportunity for leading the singing at Saint Mary’s, please think about joining the Saint Mary’s Singers (see below for details).
Lent is traditionally a time for Christians to renew their relationship with God and with each other. It is often said that singing is “praying twice.” I invite and encourage you then, during this holy season, to engage fully and actively in the act of singing. Renew your relationship with that most individualized and unifying gift, the human voice. Sing out during a hymn, come to Solemn Evensong, or join our volunteer choir. What wonderful ways to show forth His praises! In the words of Psalm 96: “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” James Kennerley
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Janet, Wayne, Laura, Angie, Jack, Ben, Alice, Harold, Lawrence, Rosemarie, Patrick, Caroline, Jocelyn, Mimi, Marcia, Richard, Deloris, Mary, Gloria, Stephen, Brooke, Donna, Margaret, Laura, Madeleine, Marc, Janelle, Jennie, William, Gert, Mary, Terry, Daisy, Rozalind, Rick, and Stephen, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christopher, Omar, Curtis, Timothy, Benjamin, Marc, Terrance, Steven, Patrick, Andrew, and Brendan; and for the repose of the souls of JoAnne, Michael, and Charles, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 1: 1888 Francis Burr James; 1909 John Netterfield; 1923 Henri Bigelow Beach LaFerré, priest; 1927 Julia Watt Lawrence, Mary Dral Werner, Mary Lynch; 1933 Amelia Jane Hammond Todd.
LENT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Fridays during Lent are observed with special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Stations of the Cross are offered on Fridays in Lent at 7:00 PM . . . Sister Laura Katharine will offer a Lenten Meditation Day of Personal Reflection through the use of the Mandala on Saturday, March 14, from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM . . . The Reverend Peter Powell will offer an Adult-Education Class on the Psalms at 10:00 AM each Sunday in Lent . . . During Lent we are excited to have a number of guest preachers at Sunday Evensong & Benediction, including the Right Reverend Andrew St John, the Reverend E. Clare Nesmith, the Reverend Dr. Ryan Lesh, and the Reverend Robert Rhodes . . . Lent is a season of simplicity: throughout the season there are no flowers on the high altar, organ music is used only to accompany singing, and there are no pre-service organ recitals, preludes, or postludes . . . In addition to our regular observance of Lent, this year Father Mead and Father Smith will offer a six-part, fifteen-minute midday Bible study on the Gospel narratives of the Passion of Jesus. The class will meet in the choir area every Wednesday in Lent (not in Holy Week) immediately following the 12:10 PM Sung Mass, and it will feature a 10-15 minute lecture (the lecture will end at 1:00 PM) followed by a brief question-and-answer period for those who do not have to rush back to work. The class on Wednesday, March 4 will be led by Father Smith on the Trial before the Jewish Authorities in the Gospel narratives.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is for congregation and organ. Dr. Mark Risinger, Bass, is the Cantor. Ordinarily, we would have the full choir sing on Sundays during the choir year. However, due to the financial restrictions placed on the church by the economy, the music budget was reduced by 65% and this is one of the regrettable manifestations of those cuts (it costs us around $1000 for the full choir at each ‘regular’ Solemn Mass). At the ministration of Communion, the cantor sings the motet Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch (“Verily, verily, I say unto you “) from Cantata No. 86 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Composed for the fifth Sunday of Easter and first performed in Leipzig on May 14 1724, this aria (the opening movement of the cantata) is also particularly appropriate for Lent. Apart from light hymn accompaniment, the great organ remains all but silenced throughout Lent. The Saint Mary’s Singers meet not this Sunday but NEXT Sunday, March 8, at 3:00 PM, to rehearse and to sing at Solemn Evensong. Please note that we have professional singers leading each voice part, so, if you were thinking of joining us, do not be worried that you’d be the only one in your section! James Kennerley
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday School will NOT meet on Sunday March 1: Deacon Fox will be away . . . Father Montgomery will hear confessions on Saturday, February 28. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, March 7. Confessions are also heard by appointment . . . Father Peter Powell will begin his class on the Psalms on Sunday, March 1, at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. The psalms are intrinsically interesting because of their beauty and their expressive power. They have always been central to the church’s worship and they play a central role in the liturgies here at the parish. This week, Fr. Powell will examine the Psalms of Lament . . . The twenty-minute Bible Study class will meet immediately after Wednesday’s Sung Mass on March 4, at 12:45 PM, in the chancel choir. This week Father Smith will look at the Trial before the Jewish Authorities . . . Father Mead’s class on the Prophets will meet on Wednesday, March 4, at 7:00 PM. We will read the Book of Isaiah during Lent.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Reverend Dr. Charles Everett Whipple, II, longtime friend and benefactor of Saint Mary’s, died on Friday, February 20, after a long illness. His funeral was here at the parish on Monday, February 23, at 10:30 AM. Father Mead was the celebrant at the Solemn Requiem Mass and Father Smith was the preacher. The Mass setting was the Duruflé Réquiem, sung by our choir and directed by Mr. Kennerley. Please keep Father Whipple, his friends, and all who mourn in your prayers . . . Thank you to all those who worked so hard once again this year to make Ash Wednesday the important witness and ministry to our neighborhood that it is. To the acolytes (some of whom did double-duty this year as ushers and greeters), the ushers, the sextons, and the choristers. Thank you so much. Your work and ministry make the day possible . . . The Parish Library on the fourth floor of the Mission House is still being painted with money from the Jones Library Fund. Once adequate shelving has been installed, we hope to begin moving books into the space in March . . . Friday, March 13–Sunday, March 15: Youth Group of the Church of the Mediator, Allentown, PA, Visit to Saint Mary’s . . . Saturday, March 14, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM: Lenten Meditation Day of Personal Reflection through the Use of the Mandala . . . Sunday, March 22, 1:00 PM, Meeting of the Mission & Outreach Committee in Saint Joseph’s Hall. A light lunch will be served . . . Thursday, April 2, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: Music for Double Choir, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director. The concert is a presentation of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. For tickets, please call the theatre box office at 212.854.7799. Admission is $40.00 . . . The Rector began his sabbatical on January 1. He returns to New York at the end of March and to the office on April 1, in time for Holy Week . . . Attendance: Last Sunday, Last Epiphany 223; Ash Wednesday 641
CHILDREN AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Children are always welcome at Mass at Saint Mary’s. The Rector encourages families with children to sit at the front of the church – so the children can see easily and clearly. Childcare for younger children is available in the Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom which is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM . . . Sunday School for children meets on Sundays during the academic year at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room (follow the blue signs in Saint Joseph’s Hall to the Morning Room). Sunday School is led by Deacon Jedediah Fox and Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
MISSION & OUTREACH . . . The next meeting of the Mission & Outreach Committee will be on Sunday, March 22, at 1:00 PM, following the Solemn Mass. A light lunch will be served . All are welcome to attend . . . Reha Sterbin has begun an outreach project for the Seamen’s Church Institute. She is knitting cold-weather garb (hats, scarves, etc.) for mariners visiting the Port of New York and New Jersey. If you would like to help with this project or if you would like to receive more information, please contact Reha at firstname.lastname@example.org . . . Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church, 46th Street: Saint Marians are invited to bring non-perishable food items on Sundays and place them in the basket at the ushers’ table in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall during Coffee Hour. The food is then delivered to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry on 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. (We hope to make our third delivery to Saint Clement’s this week.). Cash donations can also be made: please write the check to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and put “Fr. Smith’s Discretionary Fund” in the memo line. (Both diocesan and parish guidelines stipulate that such funds are only to be used for outreach and for those who are in need. They are not used for personal reasons. Here at Saint Mary’s the clergy’s discretionary funds are administered by the Finance Office.) Lightly used clothing may also be donated and should be placed on the table near the Kitchen in Saint Joseph’s Hall. During the winter months, coats and sweaters, hats and gloves are particularly welcome. Thank you to all who continue to give so generously to the Food Pantry! . . . Mission Trip: Hope for South Africa/Hope for Richmond. A group of partners in South Africa and the United States, including Saint Matthew’s Anglican Church, Richmond, South Africa, have come together to try and address the many needs in the areas of health, sanitation, education, job training, nutrition, and pastoral care in the town of Richmond, South Africa. Richmond is located in the southernmost tip of South Africa’s Northern Cape, halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Unemployment there is in excess of 70% and the current rate of HIV/AIDS infection is estimated to be in excess of 35% of the town’s population. Saint Mary’s parishioner, Dr. Michael McNett, and Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., returned home on February 21. We hope to hear about their experiences in South Africa at the next meeting of the Mission and Outreach Committee on March 22. Jay Smith
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During this time of belt-tightening and budget cuts, we would like to invite the members and friends of Saint Mary’s to consider making a donation to support the parish’s hospitality efforts. There are several ways that one can do that. First, you can sponsor a feast-day reception. (We try, when possible, to pay for such receptions through the generous gifts of friends and parishioners.) The next planned reception will be on the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. We now have a donor for that reception and for the reception following the Easter Vigil. We are now hoping to find a donor for the reception on Ascension Day. If you would like to sponsor (or co-sponsor) that reception, or some other upcoming reception, please let me know, or, if you would like to plan and host a reception, please contact me. Second, you can donate unopened boxes of cookies or other sweets or pastries for use at our receptions on Sunday evenings after Evensong & Benediction. Third, you can make a cash donation. Checks should be written to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and “Hospitality Fund” should be written in the memo line. Finally, if you feel called to be a server and host at a reception, please let me know. Jay Smith
COME AND SING WITH US! . . . Saint Mary’s Singers is looking for members. We are a group of parishioners and non-parishioners who now sing twice a month at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square. The church has one of the finest acoustics in the city, as well as one of the city’s greatest organs. Why don’t YOU consider taking a break from work on Sunday afternoons to come sing and socialize with a group of Saint Mary’s neighbors, friends, and parishioners. If you are able to match pitch and have a desire to sing, especially some of the great Anglican choral repertoire, why not consider being part of our new choir? We promise that you will have fun! Professional singers lead each voice part, so you will never be alone! If you would like to join, or just come along for a rehearsal, please email me at email@example.com. James Kennerley
THE PSALMS . . . The Reverend Peter Powell will lead a class on the Psalms in Lent 2009. Father Powell is the president of the Interfaith Housing Corporation, Westport, Connecticut. He is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and holds advanced degrees from Princeton and the University of the South.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saint Mary’s offers a wide variety of concerts each year. In addition to concerts offered by our music department, we also host a number of outside groups who offer concerts in the church. See below for upcoming concerts at Saint Mary’s . . . Every Sunday, 4:40 PM (October to June, except during Lent): Before Sunday Evensong & Benediction Saint Mary’s offers a weekly organ recital by a visiting musician. For more details, please see the current music schedule HERE . . . Monday, March 16, 7:30 PM: Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH . . . Saturday, March 21, 1:00 PM: Lenten Recital by the Choir of Saint Mary’s School, Calne (near Salisbury), England.. Admission is free . . . Sunday, March 29, 5:00 PM: The Service of Evensong and Benediction is sung by the Choir of the Church of Saint Paul, Fairfield, Connecticut, Jonathan Abdenour, director . . . Thursday, April 2, 2009, 8:00 PM: Music for Double Choir, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director . . . Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 1:15 PM: The Choir of the Royal Memorial Chapel, Sandhurst, UK, Peter Beaven, director . . .
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The First Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Tuesday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Wednesday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Thursday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Friday Weekday of Lent Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent Abstinence
Eve of the Second Sunday In Lent
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School & Adult Christian Education, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday.
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 Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include anointing of the sick.
A service of Stations of the Cross is offered every Friday in Lent at 7:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. Confessions are heard Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.