FROM THE RECTOR: EVENSONG AT SAINT MARY’S
With many, many thanks to our organ curator Larry Trupiano, who has repaired the chancel organ console, we will embark on what I hope will be our most prayerful season for Evensong on Sunday, October 3. I’m writing today to tell you what’s up with this service and to encourage you to come as you are able.
We’ve been offering Solemn Evensong & Benediction on Sunday evenings since the position of organist & music director was made full-time on January 1, 2002. There have been many wonderful services along the way. From time to time our own choirs and guests choirs have enriched our worship. But the core of our service – and what we are good at – remains congregational plainsong. We are blessed to have the tradition and the building that makes this possible.
On a lot of Sunday evenings, even those when there are only twenty-five of us here, we have experienced amazing moments of prayer. Sung prayer sounds warm in our building. It has a way of enveloping the assembly with its grace. There is a certain “groove” to plainsong that moves but is not rushed, is loud enough to be heard but not loud at all, is many voices singing as one, almost effortlessly paying attention to one another. For whatever reason, we have been unable to develop a weekly volunteer choir for this service. Perhaps that’s in our future.
(Before I go any further: No one has to be a singer or even able to sing at all to attend and pray Evensong or any other service at Saint Mary’s. Non-singers are never alone; there are always more than one.)
There have been other challenges. We’ve shifted the chancel organ console from behind a pillar so that the organist can hear better – the location behind the pillar really was a problem. Although the chancel console can only play about two-thirds of the organ – which is more than enough to accompany almost anything, an organist sitting there connects much better with a small congregation. Again, thanks to Larry that console is now in use for our Sung Masses on Wednesdays and will be used for Evensong.
Congregational plainsong found a place in the Episcopal Church through the scholarship and work of Charles Winfred Douglas (1867-1944). A priest of the Church, he was the musical editor of The Hymnal 1916 and The Hymnal 1940. In the era when the division between “high” and “low” church was marked, his work with plainsong transcended the theological controversies of the day. For example, Episcopalians everywhere sang Humbly I adore thee, Verity unseen and Creator of the stars of night. The Hymnal 1940 Companion lists him as having been arranger for every plainsong tune in that hymnal.
I’ve started to help recruit volunteer cantors to intone the psalms and canticles for the service. (If you would like to try out your voice in the space, please speak with James Kennerley.) It doesn’t take a large voice to be heard in Saint Mary’s, but it does require a certain volume and discipline. When I am in my seat in the chancel I know I can make myself heard anywhere in the building. I don’t look at the congregation in the nave when I sing. I sing “to the wall” directly opposite my seat; the walls do the trick. The building always wins – and we have one that helps us all if we let it.
This fall we are going to set up seats in collegiate style in the open area between the chancel and the nave. Like the chancel pews, these seats will face each other. This is the seating pattern which shaped the development of Evensong in our Anglican tradition. James Kennerley and I think this will help us pray together as one voice.
Father Smith and I continue to live into life at Saint Mary’s with only two priests, not three. This year we are going to try to have one guest preacher monthly at Evensong. On Sunday, October 31, the Eve of All Saints’ Day, the Reverend Peter Cullen, rector, Saint Paul’s Church, Carroll Street, Brooklyn, will be our preacher. On Sunday, November 21, the Reverend Alan Moses, vicar, All Saints Margaret Street, London, will preach. In December, on the First Sunday after Christmas Day, the Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols will keep Jay and me out of the pulpit that night.
Parish Archivist Dick Leitsch found in The New York Times from January 8, 1871, a month after the first service in our first church, Saint Mary’s service schedule listed in the Times’s “Religious Notices.” Here is the ad as it was printed in the style of the day:
FREE (EPISCOPAL) CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN, West 45th st., between 7th and 8th avs. – Services SUNDAYS: 7 holy communion; 10, morning prayer, 10¾ litany (choral); 11, holy communion (choral) and sermon; 4 evening prayer, (choral); 7½ compline (choral) and sermon. WEEK DAYS: 7, holy communion; 9, morning prayer; 8, evening prayer; (choral, Wednesdays and Fridays).
Our roots and our traditions are strong ones. Saint Mary’s was “free” – that is, no pew rents – from its opening day. Our doors have always been open. The regular services of the Church have been offered. We remain the Episcopal parish church for Longacre, now Times Square.
We have little documentary evidence about the thinking that shaped the architecture of our second and present church home. I think one can conclude from our building and from the record of our common life, worship and music have always mattered here. They still do. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Mary, Carol, Thomas, Edward, Larry, Ashley, Lindsay, José, Sharon, Jessica, Daisy, Gerardo, Cesar, Chris, Rolf, Nicholas, Elsa, William, Gert, Miguel, Rick, and Emil, religious; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, and Benjamin; and for the repose of the soul of James Joseph Brown and Vivian Tomás Marshall . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 26: 1937 Warren Ray Thompson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . James Joseph Brown, the father of parishioner Penny Allen, died on Saturday, September 18, in West Virginia. Vivian Tomás Marshall, the father of Belva Marshall, died on Sunday, September 19. Belva is a member of our weekday congregation. Please keep James and Penny, Vivian and Belva, their families, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Wednesday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels. Sung Masses will be celebrated at both 12:10 and 6:00 PM . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from Friday, September 24, until Wednesday, September 29. He will return to the office on Thursday, September 30. . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, September 25. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, October 2. Confessions are normally heard from 11:30 to 11:50 AM and 4:00 to 4:50 PM on Saturdays. Appointments for confession at other times can be made by calling the parish office.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for our outreach partner, the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. The Food Pantry continues to serve several hundred households in the Clinton and Times Square neighborhoods. Please speak to Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or to Father Smith if you have questions or if you would like to volunteer . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday in Saint Joseph’s Hall. All proceeds are deposited in his discretionary fund and are used to help those in need . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 223.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday, I will serve as cantor and I will play the chorale prelude on Vater Unser (“Our Father”) by Georg Böhm (1661-1733). At the ministration of Communion, the motet is Lord, what is Man, Z. 192, by Henry Purcell (1659-1695). The song was published in the second volume of Henry Playford’s Harmonia Sacra, or Divine Hymns and Dialogues, in 1693. The text is by Dr. William Fuller, Bishop of Lincoln (1608-1675), and expresses, in vivid musical terms, an individual’s amazement at the Christian sacrifice. Despite its religious subject, it is probable that it was performed for private edification rather than as part of a service. This would also account for the extreme ranges of expression – including recitative, virtuosic flourishes and several time-meter changes. The postlude is one of a number of pieces that has been traditionally attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, although the absence of the composer’s manuscript, as well as a number of stylistic inconsistencies, would suggest that it was written by another composer, perhaps Buxtehude, who wrote a number of similar pieces. James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP 2010 . . . As the Stewardship Committee prepares to launch the 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign, we continue our ongoing series “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.” We hear this week from parishioner and faithful acolyte and cantor, Emily Helming: “My dad introduced me to Saint Mary’s during one of his visits from Seattle. He and my mother used to come to Saint Mary’s on occasion when they lived in New York. When I moved here, I visited a few churches but never felt compelled to return. I would share my reservations with my folks and my mother would say ‘Go to Smokey Mary’s!’ It took my dad’s initiative to get me here, but I had no reservations about coming back. I came back the very next Sunday, and the next, and so on. As someone who has enjoyed church in a somewhat peripheral way, I was amazed by how strongly I felt compelled to keep coming back. When I stepped foot into Saint Mary’s I was in awe of the entire experience. First, it was the music. Being a musician myself, the music has always been a huge draw for me and what I heard was transcendent. I was also taken by the liturgy. I gravitate toward the high-church and the older tradition. Finally, I was moved by the warm welcome my dad and I received after the service. I felt as though every gesture was genuine and that the members of Saint Mary’s truly wanted to get to know me and encourage me to come back (by then I already knew I would be coming back, no question). I am thankful everyday for being introduced to Saint Mary’s and I feel incredibly grateful every time I am there. I love serving at the altar, processing around Times Square, slinging smoke, singing the epistle and sharing this unique bond with my fellow Christians and friends. I always tell anyone curious about exploring their faith, “Come to Saint Mary’s!” It only takes one visit to see how special and wonderful Saint Mary’s truly is. Emily Helming
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The first Adult Forum of the academic year will take place on Sunday, October 3, towards the end of Coffee Hour, around 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Parish Archivist, Dick Leitsch, will give a talk on the history of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, focusing on Father Thomas McKee Brown, Saint Mary’s first rector and the organization of the parish during its early years. The presentation will take place in connection with the current exhibition of images from the archives in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on October 6, at 6:30 PM. Once again this year, the class will be led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., and Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B. The class will be reading selections from the so-called “apocryphal” or “deutero-canonical” books of the Bible. Building on their reading of the Wisdom literature last year, the members of the class will have the opportunity to study such important biblical themes as the end of prophecy and the rise of apocalypticism. If you have questions, please speak to one of the sisters.
CHILDCARE . . . 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 is in Saint Benedict’s Nursery & Playroom which is open and available every Sunday from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM.
CATECHESIS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD . . . Formation for younger children begins on Sunday, October 3. The children will be meeting in a new space this year, the former parish office, now the “Atrium of the Good Shepherd.” Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins is our catechist and seminarian Rem Slone will be assisting during this academic year. PLEASE NOTE: The Catechesis meets from 9:45 AM to 10:45 AM.
BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . Bishop Sisk will be with us for the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Wednesday, December 8. He will celebrate and preach at the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM. The sacraments of baptism and confirmation will be celebrated at that time. If you have been thinking and praying about baptism or confirmation, or if you think that you would like to be received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith.
HYMN SING & OKTOBERFEST . . . Join a very friendly group of Saint Marians for the fourth annual Hymn Sing and Oktoberfest in Saint Joseph’s Hall (and the organ loft) on Saturday, October 2, at 6:00 PM, after the Evening Mass. The food will be good and the music lively. We are grateful to parish volunteers MaryJane Boland, Grace Bruni, Randy Morgan, Marie Rosseels, and Richard Theilmann for their help in organizing this event. You may speak to one of our volunteers if you have questions or if you would like to help. If you would like to nominate a favorite hymn for the Hymn Sing, please contact Father Smith or James Kennerley. We hope that you can join us! All are welcome.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The evening receptions following Solemn Mass on Holy Days are made possible by the donations of generous parishioners and friends of Saint Mary’s. A donation has already been made for All Saints’ Day on November 1. We have also received a donation for the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8 and are looking for some additional help for the reception on that day. If you would like to make such a donation, or if you would like more information, please contact Fr. Jay Smith; and thank you to all who give so generously to this ministry.
ALTAR FLOWERS are needed for Sunday, October 24, and for three Sundays in November. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office and thank you to all those who support this ministry so generously.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Saturday, October 9, 1:00 PM, Saint Mary’s Guild meets . . . Monday, October 11, Columbus Day, the Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Monday, October 18, Saint Luke, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, October 16, 2010, 8:00PM, Concerts at Saint Mary’s: The Early Music Series of the Columbia University’s Miller Theatre presents In Paradisum, a concert performed by the early-music ensemble Stile Antico. Memorials and swansongs by Byrd, Dufay, des Prez, Lassus, and others . . . Thursday, October 28, Saint Simon & Saint Jude, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Monday, November 1, All Saints’ Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, November 7, 2:00 AM: Daylight Savings Time ends (clocks are set back one hour) . . . Saturday, November 13, 1:00 PM, Meeting of Saint Mary’s Guild . . . Tuesday, December 7, Solemn Evensong and Legacy Society Reception . . . Wednesday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, December 11, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Advent Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield. Father Beddingfield, who served at Saint Mary’s as curate, is the Rector of All Souls Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.
The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator