From the Music Director: “Came for the music, stayed for the Mass”
Not long ago, I re-read the parish profile that Saint Mary’s published in 1998. It occurred to me, and not for the first time, that many of our parishioners could identify with the phrase that appeared in that document, “came for the music, stayed for the Mass.” As the ethereal In paradisum from Gabriel Fauré’s beloved Requiem came to a close at Mr. George Blackshire’s Requiem Mass just over a week ago, amid the fading echo of voices and a light haze of incense, I paused. I thought to myself how very powerful music is in our parish. Music is particularly important in the way that it serves as a starting point for so many visitors on their journey towards an appreciation and understanding of Saint Mary’s uniquely rich worship experience. As I write this, having just witnessed a superb a capella concert in the church sung by the English choral group, Tenebrae, the same thoughts passed through my mind. Almost everyone that I spoke to afterwards said that they hadn’t heard of or even imagined that something like Saint Mary’s existed, and that they are determined to come back for more. Again, the opening phrase seems to be ringing true.
Since I started to work at Saint Mary’s, music (and the church, as well as just about every organization, of course) has faced severe financial challenges. Challenges of this nature have, in fact, plagued Saint Mary’s ever since its inception, but the most recent cuts are the most severe that I have been able to locate in our 141-year history. The operating budget for music in 2008 was $157,429 (Source: 2008 Annual Report). For 2009, it is $34,100. Coping with a reduction of almost 80% has been extremely difficult. It has taken a good deal of faith, ingenuity and plain hard work to restructure the music program and take account of the changes. The Assistant Organist position was eliminated, as well as all payments not directly associated with the core of the professional choir (organ-recital stipends, substitute singers, accompanists, sheet-music purchases, to name just a few items).
And yet, despite these challenges (I hope), the overall standard of music-making has not decreased by 80%. I might suggest that it has actually continued to grow, thanks to the dedication of our fantastic choir, the marvelous opportunities afforded to us by the wonderful liturgies of the church, and the generosity of those who have made gifts to sustain the program. Instead of having the full choir sing at Mass, for example, we have performed several services with just three or four singers, which, as a result of our unique acoustic, tricks the ear into hearing many more voices!
Planning music for the choir is one of the most inspiring parts of my job, and I’m essentially at total artistic liberty, save for the need for relative brevity (gone are the days of the sixteenth century when mass movements could be as long as fifteen minutes each!). Of particular interest this season is the Requiem by Herbert Howells, to be sung on All Souls’ Day. Composed in 1936 following the death of his son, Michael, it was not until 1980 that it was reassembled from manuscript and released for performance. It is coupled with movements from Howells’s Dorian Mass, written for the marvelous choir of Westminster Cathedral, London, in 1912. At Christmas, the choir will sing Francis Poulenc’s Messe en Sol, a highly distinctive and virtuosic setting whose quiet mystery is well suited to the Midnight Mass liturgy. It is performed with two of his Motets pour le temps de Nöel.
The Saint Mary’s Singers, the church’s volunteer choir, will sing its first service on November 1 at Solemn Evensong and Benediction for the Feast of All Saints, the first in an exciting season of events. All those who have an interest in singing with the choir are very welcome to join us that day (please see the website for details). Singing in a choir is an excellent and enjoyable way to improve sight reading skills and vocal confidence, and, just in case you’re worried about being exposed and alone, professional section leaders lead each voice-part!
Saint Mary’s now hosts a large number of concerts, partly due to my effort to secure extra income for the church in this time of financial difficulty, but, most important, to expose more and more people to this wonderful place. When possible, admission is free. We now have a resident orchestra–the New York Repertory Orchestra, under the direction of David Leibowitz–that rehearses and gives concerts in the church (the first of which is this Saturday, October 24, at 8:00 PM). Particular attention is drawn to their benefit concert on Saturday, December 19, also at 8:00 PM, when I will perform with them on our magnificent Aeolian-Skinner organ Francis Poulenc’s Concerto pour Orgue and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphonie No. 3 (“Organ”). Our reputation for excellent music is due in part to my predecessor Kyler Brown’s Concerts at Saint Mary’s, and I hope to continue that reputation by (re-)establishing a concert series of our own. It comes as little surprise that churches with top-level and wide-reaching music programs invariable support a thriving concert series.
As I write, work on relocating the Music Office and Choir Room is underway. This is an essential project that was started several years ago by my predecessor, Robert McCormick, but, for various reasons, has been delayed. Our current space suffers from intense heat all year round (the steam pipes pass through it), as well as insects, and restaurant exhaust fans, among other inconveniences. We hope to have the work completed in a couple of weeks.
Another exciting project is that of webcasting. More and more churches are broadcasting their services via their websites, and it is a proven way to reach out to potential new members and initiate parish growth, as well as to connect with friends of the parish who are not able to attend for reasons of distance. What we do at Saint Mary’s is world-class, and the audio-visually rich liturgies are absolutely ideal for webcasting (at the present time, I already make CD-quality audio recordings of our services for archive purposes.) I hope that this essential project will become a possibility in the near future.
And so I return to those thoughts following the recent performance of Fauré’s Requiem, or Schubert’s Mass in C a few weeks ago, or to the excited anticipation of musical activity that will take place during the Christmas season. We’re doing something quite extraordinary, week in and week out, and it’s my deep conviction that if people are aware of this, they will join our parish community. I hope and pray that music at Saint Mary’s receives the level of funding that it deserves, and I have every faith that that prayer will be answered. James Kennerley
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Jane, Timothy, Rachel, Burt, Alex, Aaron, Dennis, Robert, Dorothy, Cindy, Margaret, Eva, Allan, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, Emil, religious, and Carl, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 25: 1902 Jennie McLean; 1924 James Robert Wood.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010 . . . Stewardship packets were mailed on Monday, October 19. Please be on the lookout for an envelope containing information about this year’s campaign: a letter from the Executive Committee for the Board of Trustees; a fact sheet about pledging (in some, though not all, of the envelopes), a pledge card, and a return envelope. Please give our appeal letter your prayerful consideration and please return your signed pledge cards by Commitment Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, November 22, 2009. If you have questions about pledging, stewardship, or about any of the materials contained in your packet, please contact MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Father Smith. Please pray for the success of this year’s campaign and we thank you for your generous support! As part of the 2010 pledge campaign, the Stewardship Committee plans to continue publishing contributions to its ongoing series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.” Parishioner Robin Landis has written this season’s third entry in the series.
WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . “There are many things that I love about Saint Mary’s–the building, the people, the liturgy, the music, the hospitality–but others have written about those things in their contributions to this series. I want to write about two other aspects of Saint Mary’s that matter to me. One is that her doors are always open for prayer and worship. I have taken part many times in morning and evening prayer and weekday masses, and those services have enriched my life, providing reassurance during difficult times and joy during happy times. Even when my weekday attendance is infrequent, I am glad to know those services are being offered. The other reason is the openness of Saint Mary’s clergy and congregation to new ideas in seeking to offer the best in liturgical thinking and practice. I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at Saint James’s Church in Cleveland many years ago, when I was a senior in high school. The view at Saint James at that time was that Saint Mary’s was the foremost Anglo-Catholic church in the United States. On my way to college, we made a special stop in New York so I could attend the 11:00 Sunday Mass here. Years later, I moved to New York. When I was seeking a church in 1992, Saint Mary's seemed a natural choice. Many things had changed both at Saint Mary’s, and in the Episcopal Church in the years since I had left Cleveland, but Saint Mary’s seemed, and seems to me still, to reflect the best thinking in worship, liturgy and doctrine available in the Anglo-Catholic movement of the Episcopal Church. I believe that our faith and our religious understanding must be open to new developments in liturgy and theology if they are to be alive and growing. I love Saint Mary’s because it nurtures me in new growth and new life within the church and within the Anglo-Catholic tradition.” Robin Landis
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, October 23, Saint James, Brother of Our Lord and Martyr: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Saturday, October 24, 8:00 PM: New York Repertory Orchestra Concert (free admission) . . . Sunday, October 25, Adult Education Class, “Icons: A Very Short Introduction, 10:00-10:55 AM, Arch Room, Mission House, 2nd Floor, led by Prof. Dennis Raverty . . . On Monday, October 26, at 7:30 PM, the American Globe Theatre will present a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Phone: 212.869.9809 . . . Wednesday, October 28, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Wednesday, October 28, Bible Study: the Book of Proverbs, 7:00-8:00 PM, Arch Room, the Mission House, 2nd Floor, led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B. . . . Thursday, October 29, Lunchtime Concert, “Sounds Spectacular,” Choir of Wakefield Cathedral, United Kingdom, 1:00 PM (free admission) . . . Father Gerth is on vacation this week and is away from the parish. He returns to the office on Wednesday, October 28.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the Fantasia in Four Parts by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Douce mémoire by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594). Almost sixty of Lassus’s masses survive, and most of them are parody masses (which means that they are based on ideas or melodies from existing works by Lassus and others, works both sacred and secular.) Doulce mémoire is a chanson by Pierre Sandrin, first published in 1537-38. It served as the basis for several settings of the Magnificat and of various mass texts during the Renaissance. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet O sacrum convivium by Giovanni Croce (1557-1607). Croce served at Saint Mark’s, Venice, first as a chorister at the age of eight, and, beginning in 1603, as maestro di cappella. While many Venetian composers of the time wrote polychoral works (music for several choirs of singers or instruments), the Motetti a Quattro Voci (1597), from which today’s motet is drawn, are of a simpler contrapuntal style that is more reminiscent of the Roman School. The Saint Mary’s Singers will NOT meet this Sunday, October 25 (I must accompany the visiting choir). They will meet on November 1 at 3:00 PM to sing for Solemn Evensong. James Kennerley
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you! The clergy and staff of the parish wish to express their gratitude to all those who volunteered their time to prepare, organize, and mail our 2010 Stewardship Campaign packets and our All Souls’ Day Appeal letters. All that hard work was a very great help and we thank you. On Sunday, October 18, two Saint Marians gave of their time and represented the parish at the Episcopal Chaplaincy at NYU. They cooked dinner for around forty people (including Father John Merz, chaplain, who is an assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s) and stayed to socialize with the students. Thank you for representing Saint Mary’s so ably. Thank you also to our servers, ushers, and musicians for their hard work on Saturday, October 17, for parishioner George Blackshire’s funeral. We are very grateful . . . Our annual All Souls’ Day Appeal letter was mailed on Thursday, October 22. In your envelope, you will find a letter from the rector, a form for requesting prayers for the departed on and around All Souls’ Day, and a brochure that describes Saint Mary’s Legacy Society. The brochure explains how one can make a gift to Saint Mary’s as part of one’s estate planning. This year’s Parish Requiems will take place on November 4-6, and 9. On those four days there will be two Masses each day, one at 12:10 PM and one at 6:20 PM. Continuing the custom of many years, prayers will be offered for the departed at both Masses on those days according to the following schedule, by the last name of the person making the intention: Wednesday, November 4: last names A–G; Thursday, November 5: last names H–M; Friday, November 6: last names N–R; Monday, November 9: last names S–Z . . . New and Prospective Members: On Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, following the Solemn Mass, there will be a reception in the Rectory for those new to the parish or those who are thinking about making Saint Mary’s their parish home. If you would like to find out more about the parish or would like to attend the reception, please contact Father Smith . . . Save the Date: Monday, December 14, 6:30 PM, following Evening Prayer, Members of the Saint Mary’s Legacy Society will gather for a reception in the Rectory. The members of the Legacy Society have committed themselves to the parish and its future by making a provision for the parish in their estate planning. For more information about the Society or about the December reception, please contact Father Smith . . . Flowers Needed: We do not yet have donors for flowers for the following dates: November 15 and 22. Please contact the Parish Office, if you would like to make a donation . . . Hospitality: Please speak to Father Smith if you would like to make a donation (of either food or money) for the Sunday coffee hours or receptions . . . Outreach: we continue to collect non-perishable food items and some clothing for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry; also, please contact Father Smith if you think you would like to donate toys or other gift items for the AIDS Action International Event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on November 17 . . . The American Globe Theatre (AGT), Saint Mary’s resident theatre group, has announced its fall season. On Monday, November 30, at 7:30 PM, John Basil, AGT’s artistic director will deliver the second part of a three-part lecture series “What Makes Shakespeare Great?” Part 1, on October 5, was “Words!” Part 2, on November 30, is “Women!” and Part 3, “Sex!”, takes place on January 11 . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, October 24. Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, October 31 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 237.
OUTREACH MINISTRIES: There will be a Meeting of the Outreach Committee on Sunday, November 15, at 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall, after Coffee Hour. A light lunch will be served . . . On Sunday, there will be a basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall, where toys and other gift items may be placed for the AIDS Action International Event at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Tuesday, November 17, 2009. Saint Mary’s has made significant contributions to this effort during the past several years, helping to support families in need who have been affected by HIV and AIDS . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and some clothing for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the food basket in the back of the church before Mass or in Saint Joseph’s Hall at Coffee Hour . . . Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) “Christmas at Sea” Program: We have now made four deliveries of wool caps, scarves, and gloves knit by members of the parish to SCI. Those items are then distributed to mariners from warmer climes who are visiting the Port of New York and New Jersey. For more information, speak to Patricia Mottley . . . “The Glass Garden” rehabilitation program at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (400 East 34th Street) is looking for volunteers to work with their exotic birds, in their conservatory. Experience is not absolutely necessary, but if you have worked with such birds, your skills would be particularly welcome. Rusk is part of the New York University Hospital. It is a first-rate rehabilitation center, serving those who have suffered strokes, other neurological disorders, and a variety of conditions requiring a long-term stay in the hospital. If you are interested, speak to Barbara Stettner.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Studies in the History of Christian Art: Sunday, October 25, and Sunday, November 8, 10:00 AM: “Icons, A Very Short Introduction.” Prof. Dennis Raverty, Ph.D., friend and neighbor of the parish, will teach a class on the history and theology of icons in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Prof. Raverty received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota. At present, he teaches in the Art History Department of New Jersey City University in Jersey City. As an educator, Prof. Raverty is a generalist. He has taught courses on the art of a number of different cultures and time periods, including the art of the Byzantine tradition; as a scholar, his specialty is in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism. Session 1 (October 25): “Origin of the Icons” – An examination of the early development of the icon within the context of late antiquity, early Christian art and the veneration of relics of the martyrs. Session 2 (November 8): “Iconoclasm and the Triumph of Tradition” – Iconoclasts (“image smashers”) during the eighth and ninth centuries threatened the very existence of icons, and in response to this crisis an orthodox theology was formulated. A later stylistic crisis resulted in the decline of the tradition in the seventeenth century, but the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a veritable renaissance of the tradition . . . Studies in Christian Doctrine: Sunday, November 15, and Sunday, November 22, 10:00 AM, “What do we mean when we talk about ‘revelation’, our conviction that God acts to reveal himself to us and to the world”? Led by Father Jay Smith . . . Studies in Christian Liturgy: Sunday, December 6, 10:00 AM, The American Editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Led by the Rector.
CONCERTS & RECITALS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, November 21, 2009, 3:00 PM, Cameron Carpenter, organ (for further information and ticketing, please visit: http://www.Cameron11-21.org) . . . Friday, December 5, 2009, 7:30 PM, “Jubilee Christmas,” Treasure House Chorale and Orchestra . . . Saturday, December 12, 2009, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director . . . Saturday, December 19, 2009, 8:00 PM, The New York Repertory Orchestra, Annual NYRO Benefit Concert, David Leibowitz, music director & James Kennerley, organ soloist . . . Sunday, January 3, 2010, 7:00 PM (admission free), The Green Mountain Project presents Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers . . . Saturday, January 9, 2010, 2:30 PM (admission free), James Kennerley, organ . . . Saturday, January 23, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre, conductor . . . Saturday, February 6, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: “The Art of the Canon,” Vox Vocal Ensemble, George Steel, conductor . . . Saturday, February 13, 2010, 8:00 PM (admission free), The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Susie Park, violin soloist . . . Saturday, February 27, 2010, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University Early Music Series: “The Birth of the Renaissance: Guillaume Dufay,” The Orlando Consort . . . Saturday, March 27, 2010, 8:00 PM (admission free), The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Erin Keefe, violin soloist . . . Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 8:00 PM, Voices of Ascension/Chorus and Orchestra, Dennis Keene, artistic director and conductor . . . Saturday, May 22, 2010, 8:00 PM (admission free), The New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Jennifer Grimaldi, soprano
A GOOD REVIEW . . . From the Church of the Ascension’s 2009-2010 music brochure, Voices of Ascension, “We complete our season tour in one of the most remarkable musical venues of the city. Because of its vaulted Gothic arches and cathedral acoustics, the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is widely known as one of the most atmospheric and satisfying spaces for Renaissance choral music in New York. [On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 8:00 PM], we [will] offer a celebration of the glories of the great master of the late Renaissance, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.” The Church of the Ascension is the Episcopal Church at Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Their music program is directed by Dennis Keene, artistic director and conductor. We are grateful for the appreciative words of our neighbors in Greenwich Village.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector.
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate.
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon,
The Reverend John Merz, assisting priest.
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.
Aaron Koch, business manager.
Mr. Hector Rojas, building mechanic.
Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Tony Santiago, Mr. Timothy Zimmerman, sextons.
Questions about the Angelus newsletter
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School and Adult Forum, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday of the year.
Monday–Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer. The Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include anointing of the sick. Holy days as announced.
Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. Confessions are normally heard on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.