The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 3


This Sunday, December 12, 2010, marks the one hundred fifteenth anniversary of the consecration of the present church by the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, bishop of New York.  The first services in this new building had been held already on Sunday, December 8, 1895.  The bishop came four days later to consecrate it, that is, to set it apart “from all unhallowed, worldly, and common uses.”  The bishop and the rector, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, were clearly not rigid about the tradition that the service of consecration be the first service in a new church.

The contemporary newspaper accounts, quoted in Newbury Frost Read’s 1930 The Story of St. Mary’s, give different details about the actual services.  Comparing the accounts with The Book of Common Prayer (1892), I think we can say with some confidence that Bishop Potter officiated at the service of consecration, which was a relatively straightforward office.  This was followed immediately by a full service of Morning Prayer and then by a Solemn Mass for which the rector was celebrant.  The New York Evening Post for the day reported, “There was no sermon.”

On that Thursday morning, as the opening procession entered the church, the congregation sang, “The Church’s One Foundation.”  We can’t be sure which tune was used, but the tune we know, Aurelia, was already in wide use.  It had been joined to this text in Hymns Ancient & Modern (1868).  This Sunday it will be our final hymn at Solemn Mass.

In 1892, The Book of Common Prayer ordered that the bishop, before giving the final blessing of the communion service, pray the following collect:

Blessed be thy Name, O Lord God, for that it hath pleased thee to have thy habitation among the sons of men, and to dwell in the midst of the assembly of the saints upon the earth; Grant, we beseech thee, that in this place now set apart to thy service, thy holy Name may be worshipped in truth and purity through all generations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

We have no order of service, but I think we can presume this prayer was said.  We do have (framed and in need of conservation) the certificate of consecration.

I am writing this to you on Thursday morning, December 9.  Last night, on the anniversary of the first services in our first church in 1870 and our second church in 1895, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, the bishop of New York, was here as celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass.  The music was extraordinary and, I think it is fair to say, the hospitality and fellowship in the church and at the reception were extraordinary as well.  The altar had been lovingly and generously adorned for the festival.  Of course, this morning it is again Advent.  Extra candlesticks, some from the first church, have been put away.  The beautiful flowers have been moved to side altars and shrines.  A purple veil hangs at the tabernacle.  The church will be somewhat, but not entirely, quiet until Christmas Eve.

It is a happy accident of the calendar that this coming Sunday is the “Refreshment Sunday” of Advent – dating from the centuries when Lent crept into this season of preparation.  Rose vestments are worn; flowers are placed at the high altar.  The nickname for the Sunday, “Gaudete”, is taken from the Latin of the entrance song used at Solemn Mass.  The words are from Saint Paul’s Letter to Philippians, “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete,” that is, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

I hope many will be able to be here and to sense the wider fellowship of the Church, especially of those who have gone before us in this place.  The women and men who first gathered with Father Brown in the first Saint Mary’s in 1870 could not have imagined this church today and the number of visitors to this building since its consecration.  It numbers in the millions.  Glory be to God on high.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, George, Alan, Wayne, Sharon, Chris, Averie, Lin, Tom, Ann, Mary, Joan, Paul, Cesar, Gerardo, Owen, Robert, Thomas, Edward, José, Daisy, Rolf, Gert, Rick, Emil, religious, and for John, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James; and for the repose of the soul of Joe Baker . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 12: 1887 Charles Emery Soule; 1907 Charlotte Andrew; 1914 Lawrence Baker; 1916 Arthur Haight; 1931 Herman Brandt; 1959 Hilda Morris Carswell; 1961 Jeannette Bolton; 1962 Martha R. Townroe; 1980 Jane E. Thomas


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, December 12; the Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, December 12 . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, December 13, at 6:30 PM in the Mission House . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on December 15 and will be led by seminarian Rem Slone . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, December 11.  Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, December 18.


CHRISTMAS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Flower Guild will be working to decorate the church on Thursday, December 23, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and on Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  If you are able to help, please come and join them.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get ready for Christmas.  For more information, please speak to José Vidal, Marie Rosseels, or Rick Austill.  You are very welcome just to show up and help . . . CHRISTMAS SERVICES are listed on the web.  Please visit the website at


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Advent Quiet Day, Saturday December 11, 9:30 AM . . . George Handy is at Roosevelt Hospital, where he is doing rehabilitation therapy following surgery to repair his broken right hip.  He is doing well.  We expect that he will be at Roosevelt for at least another week.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Our annual Christmas Appeal was mailed on Monday, December 6.  A number of volunteers gathered to process the mailing: Renate Brand, Tom Heffernan, Rita Johnson, Dick Leitsch, Brenda Morgan, José Vidal, Sister Deborah Francis, and Sister Laura Katharine . . . Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the Feast of the Conception such a wonderful celebration: to Bishop Sisk; to our candidates for reception and reaffirmation; to our faithful and talented acolytes, ushers, and musicians; and to all those who provided hospitality, especially Jim Dennis and Jon Bryant, who were hosts at the reception after Mass.  Thank you to all our volunteers for their help and hard work . . . The Reverend Sister Eleanor Francis Reynolds, C.S.J.B., Superior of the Community of Saint John Baptist, has been in residence here at the parish this week.  She was a concelebrant at the Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Conception and will be attending the Quiet Day on Saturday.  We are honored by her presence and are very happy to have her with us . . . If you would like to sponsor the receptions that follow Solemn Mass on Epiphany (January 6) or Candlemas (February 2), please contact the Finance Office, or speak to Father Smith . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 248, Conception of Mary 298.


WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of our 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign, we continue our series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.”  This week we hear from parishioner and acolyte Clark Mitchell.  Clark writes, “On most Sunday evenings since January 2002, when weekly Sunday Evensong and Benediction began, I have had the honor of serving at Saint Mary’s.  The monastic rhythm of the office and the period of quiet reflection before the Sacrament has become such an important part of my spiritual life that I cannot imagine a week without it.  I'll never forget what someone said to me about Benediction at St. Mary's when I first started attending: ‘I don't think people realize how important this is.’  Several weeks ago, Father Gerth asked me to help bake the altar bread used at Solemn Masses.  On a recent Saturday afternoon, I loaded up a canvas shopping bag with around twenty loaves and I got on the subway to take them to church for the next day’s services.  As I sat there, I became aware of the heft of the bag and started to ponder its contents.  This bread would become the Body of Christ and would feed all those people who passed through Saint Mary's!  But the bag and the bread also made me think of Christ present in everyone around me: in the well-dressed tourists studying the subway map, in the young mother with a screaming baby and a squirming toddler, in the older man with the fedora who offered his seat to the lady with all the shopping bags, in the homeless man no one wanted to sit next to.  God was present if you stopped for a moment to be still and watch.  At Benediction on Sunday nights, the celebrant and acolytes kneel on the first step of the altar.  From that vantage point, it’s easy to see the underside of the canopy which covers the tabernacle.  It’s painted blue with gold stars.  The same pattern is echoed on the ceiling of the nave.  The Holy of Holies is covered with the same motif that covers the congregation.  Even the very architecture of St. Mary's points to a simple tenet of our faith: Christ is not only present in the Bread we share, but in those with whom we share it.”  Clark Mitchell


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the chorale prelude on 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, Communion motet and postlude are based upon a well-known German chorale for Advent, which is found in The Hymnal 1982 as Hymn 54, Savior of the nations, come.  Fischer, a German Baroque composer who is not particularly 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.  James Kennerley


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . We continue to make progress, if a bit more slowly than we would like: as of December 9, we have received pledges from 122 households.  Of those households, 14 are pledging for the first time or have begun to pledge again after some time away from the parish.  $354,626.00 has been pledged to date, which is just over 81% of what the Budget Committee hoped we might achieve during this year’s campaign.  All of this is good news.  We still have a ways to go, however.  We have received pledges from only 64% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign.  We very much hope that by year’s end we will have received pledges from every household that pledged last year.  If you are worried about finances or about your ability to fulfill your pledge, understandable concerns in these difficult times, please note the very encouraging news in these statistics: we are just 19% short of our goal!  In these circumstances, every pledge makes a difference.  Every pledge matters.  Every single gift, no matter its size, brings us closer to our goal!  Please join those who have already made a pledge and help us to continue our ministry to our members, our friends, and to the Times Square community.  We are very grateful to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so faithfully and so generously.  Jay Smith


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum will not meet between Sunday, December 12, and Sunday, January 9.  The forum resumes on Sunday, January 16, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will begin a three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission.  The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.”  Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century.  The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on December 15 and on January 5.  Those classes will be led by our seminarian Rem Slone.  The sisters will return to the Bible study class on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are continuing to collect toys and other gift items that will be donated to the New York Foundling Hospital . . . We are now collecting new or very lightly used and well-laundered coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive, which runs from December 1-31 . . . We also continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  Jay Smith


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, December 11, 8:00 PM & Monday, December 13, 8:00 PM: Voices of Ascension: Christmas Concert, Dennis Keene, artistic director . . . Saturday, December 18, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra.  Annual NYRO Benefit Concert...and the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber.  David Leibowitz, music director & Eric Jacobsen, cello.  Music by Barber, Schumann, and Rimsky-Korsakoff . . . Saturday, January 22, 8:00PM: The Early Music Series of the Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.  Songs from the Island Sanctuary: Sequentia, Benjamin Bagby, director.  A musical portrait of life in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, circa 1200.


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, Exhibition: “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam”.  Until February 27, 2011.




The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus


Saint Mary’s Mission House
Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
The Community of St. John Baptist


The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator


The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager

Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons