FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTMAS AT SAINT MARY’S
A newly published book arrived from England this week. It’s The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity by Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson. Paul and Max are both professors of liturgy at Notre Dame. This is the first book they have co-authored. Bradshaw and Johnson share a commitment to reading historical evidence as straightforwardly and carefully as possible. I’ve only had time to skim the chapter “Christmas and Epiphany.” The chapter concludes with an observation that the liturgical celebrations of Christmas in Rome, in the latter part of the fourth century, include celebrations of Christ’s birth (Luke’s gospel) and celebrations of his incarnation (John’s gospel).
On Christmas Eve, we will hear Luke’s narrative of the birth of Jesus at the Sung Mass at 5:00 PM and the Solemn Mass at 11:00 PM. Saint Mary’s choir will sing at both services. There will be Christmas music and congregational carols at 4:30 PM and at 10:30 PM.
I will be celebrant and preacher for the 5:00 PM Sung Mass. This service is over shortly after 6:00 PM. The nursery room is open, but not staffed. At Saint Mary’s, we welcome children to all services, especially at this Mass. The Mass ordinary is Missa Festiva by Marius Monnikendam (1896-1977). The hymns for the Mass are O come, all ye faithful; Angels we have heard on high; Silent night, holy night; and Hark! the herald angels sing. A brass quartet will join our musicians at this service. It will be glorious.
We are very honored that at 11:00 PM, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for Procession & Solemn Pontifical Mass. This service concludes about 12:45 AM, as I recall. Of all the longer services of the year, none seems to pass more quickly.
As the service begins, the choir sings, in Latin, “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.’” We continue with the chanting of the “Proclamation of the Birth of Christ,” a text from the daily list of martyrs of the church in Rome. The proclamation sets Jesus’ birth in the context of history. It’s quite powerful. An image of the Christ child is then carried from the altar in procession as the congregation sings, O come, all ye faithful. When the image is placed in the crèche, prayer is offered. Then, as Once in royal David’s city is sung, the procession moves to the middle of the nave and stops under the great rood beam with its extraordinary image of Christ on his cross. Prayer is offered. Then, the Mass begins in the ordinary way. The Mass ordinary will be Mass in G minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
At the Solemn Mass on Christmas Day and at all the Masses on the First Sunday after Christmas Day, we will hear what is called the Prologue of John’s Gospel, his proclamation of the incarnation. On Christmas Day, there is only one service, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche. Father Smith is celebrant and preacher for this Mass. The Mass ordinary is Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est by Palestrina (1525–1594). There will be more great hymns. The service concludes with a procession of the clergy and congregation to the crèche for the praying of the Angelus. It’s really very special.
On Sunday, December 26, we will observe our regular service schedule with one change. Instead of Solemn Evensong & Benediction, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be sung by the choir at 5:00 PM.
I write on the morning of Wednesday, December 22. Deliveries of greens and flowers have begun. Sister Laura Katharine is working in the sacristy. Several members of the flower guild are attending to deliveries. I can’t keep track of communications about all the people and work being done this week. My colleagues on the parish staff are just working a lot – and I want you to know I’m very, very proud of them. I’ve been bragging about our music to visitors for weeks now. And, again, on behalf of the whole parish I can say, we are honored that Bishop Griswold can be with us.
I want to conclude with thanks to the members and friends of Saint Mary’s. I continue to be excited by our parish and its traditions. This will be my twelfth Christmas at Saint Mary’s. I’m glad to be in a place where all of Advent Season is part of the journey to Christmas. There is something very real here. Merry Christmas. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mildred, who is gravely ill, and for Larry, Carol, Peter, Lynn, George, Savannah, Alan, Sharon, Chris, Averie, Lin, Tom, Ann, Mary, Joan, Paul, Owen, Robert, José, Daisy, Rolf, Gert, Gerardo, Cesar, Rick, Emil, religious, and John, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James; and for the repose of the soul of Michaela, religious . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 26: 1887 Caroline Seitz; 1922 Charles Bennett; 1940 Paul Blodweir.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Parishioner Mary Gossy has informed us of the death of a member of the Community of Saint Clare, an Anglican contemplative community in Freeland, England. Mary writes, “I am writing to ask that Sister Michaela, OSC, be listed in the prayers for the departed. I heard from their Abbess today that Michaela had passed away. [Sister Michaela] was advanced in years but the toughest Scrabble player I have ever encountered. I don't care for Scrabble much but it is one of the semi-homicidal pursuits allowed in enclosed convents and she was a genius. An Aussie who found her way all the way to Oxfordshire and the Clares after marrying and raising a family. She was a widow and then a nun. Amazing woman, if you ask me.” Please keep Sister Michaela, her community, Mary, and all who mourn in your prayers. Jay Smith
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Leonard Surdyk and Mercedes Colwin, of Long Island, New York. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the first time of asking . . . I publish the Banns of Marriage for Ricardo Eugenio Miranda and Julia Elizabeth Heard, of Brooklyn, New York. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the first time of asking. J.R.S.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, December 26. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on December 29 . . . Please click on this link for the Services of Christmastide & The Epiphany . . . On Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25, and on Monday, December 27, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . On New Year’s Eve, Friday, December 31, the church will be open from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . Confessions are only heard by appointment during Christmastide.
THE HOLY NAME . . . Saturday, January 1, 2011, is the Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The church will be open New Year’s Day from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. There will be a Sung Mass at 11:00 AM.
DECORATING THE CHURCH . . . 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, Scott Holman, or Rick Austill. You are very welcome just to show up and help.
COMPANIONS OF CHRIST . . . In the Calendar of the Episcopal Church, the feasts of Saint Stephen, Saint John and the Holy Innocents are observed this year on Monday, December 27 (Saint Stephen), Tuesday, December 28 (Saint John), and Wednesday, December 29 (The Holy Innocents). On Monday, December 27, the church is open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The 12:00 PM Noonday Office and 12:10 PM Eucharist will be celebrated. On Tuesday, December 28, and on Wednesday, December 29, the regular major feast day schedule will be observed with the Daily Office and Eucharists at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM. Our guest celebrant for the Wednesday evening Mass will be the Reverend William Krueze, associate pastor, Saint John’s Lutheran Church, Stamford, Connecticut. Pastor Krueze is a good ecumenical clergy friend of our parish. (You can read more about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other “full communion partners” of the Episcopal Church on the web page of the Episcopal Church.)
AROUND THE PARISH . . . George Handy is now at home, where he continues to recuperate after breaking his right hip. He is doing quite well. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Weekly offering envelopes will be available at the ushers’ table in the church for those who have requested them on Sunday, December 26 . . . Sponsors are needed for the reception following the Solemn Mass on Epiphany, Thursday, January 6. If you would like to be one, please call the finance office or speak with Father Smith . . . Altar flowers are needed for the first three Sundays in February. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 276.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the 5:00 PM Sung Mass on Christmas Eve is Missa Festiva by Marius Monnikendam (1896-1977). Born in Holland, Monnikendam studied with Dresden at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and with d′Indy and Aubert in Paris. In 1930, he was appointed professor of harmony and analysis at the Conservatories of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Before the Mass, the choir will be singing music by Rutter, Flecha, and Howells. Timothy Brumfield is the accompanist, and we are joined by the Saint Mary’s Brass ensemble . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary at the 11:00 PM Solemn Mass is Mass in G minor (1921) by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). This setting, a gem of early twentieth-century sacred music, is for double choir without organ or instrumental accompaniment. Before the Mass, the choir will be singing music by Flecha, Ledger, and Lauridsen . . . The prelude at 11:00 AM Solemn Mass on Christmas Day consists of two chorale preludes on the tune In dulci jubilo. The first is by Johann Michael Bach (1648-1694), and the second by Dieterich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). The setting of the mass ordinary is Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–1594). The communion motet, Hodie Christus Natus Est was published in Palestrina’s third volume of motets in Venice in 1575 . . . Music on the First Sunday after Christmas Day, December 26, is sung by a quartet drawn from the choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Ave maris stella by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings Ding, dong! merrily on high, a sixteenth-century French carol harmonized by Charles Wood (1866-1926) . . . . At the Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 PM, the choir will sing music by Ord, Mathias, Rütti, Howells, Warlock, and Poulenc. Beforehand, I will play the organ recital at 4:40 PM; music will include settings of In dulci jubilo and the virtuosic Variations sur un vieux noel by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). James Kennerley
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . As of December 22, we have received pledges from 154 households. $398,456.00 has been pledged to date. We are still 12% short of our goal and have received pledges from only 73% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign. We think we are going to make it! Every single gift, no matter its size, brings us closer to our goal!
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet next on January 5 at 7:00 PM, following Solemn Evensong. The class will be led by our seminarian Rem Slone . . . The Adult 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.
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. J.R.S.
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