From the Rector: Feast and Commemoration
This year, All Saints’ Day is Sunday, November 1, and All Souls’ Day is Monday, November 2. All Saints’ is one of seven “principal feasts” of the Church year. All Souls’ Day is an optional commemoration. Each celebration has ancient roots in the Christian communities of the late Roman Empire and the early Byzantine Empire. Layers of complexity about the meaning and context for each of these celebrations have entered Western Christianity as it evolved before and since the Reformation.
Briefly, All Saints’ Day in origin was a commemoration of Christian martyrs. In the first centuries of the Christian era, great numbers of men, women and even children were killed by the Roman government for their belief in Jesus Christ. In the ninth century, this feast becomes a commemoration of holy men and women who are in the nearer presence of God and is celebrated in the West on November 1.
We know quite a bit more about All Souls’ Day. It was instituted in 998 A.D. by the abbot of the influential Benedictine community at Cluny. It gained almost immediate acceptance in northern Europe, including England. It would be the thirteenth century before it was celebrated regularly in Rome. The Spanish gave the Western Church the custom of each priest celebrating three Masses on this day.
By the time of the Reformation, many practices that had developed in the Western Church since the classical age were easy targets for those who became known as Protestants. Chief among these were prayers addressed to saints and prayers for the departed – practices unknown to New Testament Christians. The history of these types of prayers is far too large for this article. The Reverend William Sydnor surveys the question in a straightforward way in The Story of the Real Prayer Book, (rev. ed., Wilton, CT: Morehouse Publishing, 1989).
That said, All Saints’ has become a beloved celebration. The Anglican return to a New Testament understanding of “saint” has been helpful. In the New Testament the word “saint” refers only and always to those who are baptized. With the nineteenth century catholic revival, a new sense of communion of all members of the Body of Christ, the living and the dead, emerged. Devotion to saints was rediscovered. In 1928, prayer for the departed finally became a part of the American Prayer Book. Massey Shepherd in The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950, 74-75) writes, “The thanksgiving and petition for the faithful departed in the final paragraph [of the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church] were the occasion of much strange and useless controversy from the issuance of the Prayer Book , until satisfactorily settled by the last revision .”
I like both days, All Saints’ and All Souls’. I think of All Saints’ as the day we rejoice in all members of the Body of Christ, the living and the dead. On All Souls’ Day, we remember with love Christians whom we ourselves have known and who live in the nearer presence of God. For Christians, death does not stop the love we have for anyone or that anyone has for us.
If I had to pick one, and only one, favorite hymn, it would be the William Walsham How (1823-1897) text, “For all the saints” for which Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote the tune Sine Nomine. We sing it during the preparation of the gifts at Solemn Mass. (Curiously, as I am writing this, the choir of Wakefield Cathedral, where How was bishop, was rehearsing for a concert in the church.) I hope you may be able to be with us for this Mass and for Mass on All Souls’ Day when at the Lord’s Table we join through Holy Communion all the saints in the nearer presence of God. Stephen Gerth
SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Naveen, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Timothy, Burt, Alex, Aaron, Dennis, Robert, Dorothy, Cindy, Sharon, Margaret, Eva, Allan, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, and for Carl, priest; for the members of our armed forces on active duty, especially Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew; and for the repose of the soul of Duane . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 1: 1891 Stephen Standard Eyre; 1918 Jessie Wilson; 1925 Harry Taylor; 1960 David Lane Smith; 1961 Alice Snyder; 1997 Mark Hamilton.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Duane R. Smith, a very faithful friend and supporter of Saint Mary’s, died suddenly on Sunday, October 25. Duane, a member of our sister parish, Saint Clement’s, 46th Street, was a longtime member of our own “weekday congregation.” He was almost always at the noonday Mass, sitting in his favorite spot, in choir, epistle side, second row, aisle seat. In his eighties, fighting various ailments, Duane still managed to volunteer at Saint Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital a couple of days each week. He had lived in New York his entire life and he had show business in his blood. His mother was a performer. Duane once told us that he first came to Saint Mary’s as a child when he would sit in the Lady Chapel for a couple of hours and would read or draw while his mother performed at a matinee at the theater on 47th Street and Broadway. Duane was a dancer and was part of the renaissance of modern American dance in the middle of the twentieth century, dancing for choreographers like Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins. He had been looking forward to an upcoming revival of Brigadoon at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s since he had danced in the original production of that musical, which opened in New York in March 1947. We will miss him greatly. Please keep Duane, his family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers. James Ross Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, November 1 . . . Holy Baptism will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on November 1 for Mugen Christopher Aoki, son of Katsuya and Sayako Aoki . . . The organ recital before Evensong will begin at 4:30 PM this Sunday . . . The Saint Mary’s Singers sing Evensong this Sunday at 5:00 PM . . . On Monday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, the 12:10 Mass is sung. Solemn Mass is at 6:00 PM.
PARISH REQUIEMS . . . On November 4, 5, 6 and 9 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 request: 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. Please return your forms with the names of those for whom you are requesting prayers as soon as possible.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Eastern Standard Time begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 1. Please set your clocks back one hour . . . New and Prospective Members Reception: 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 . . . The Saint Mary’s Guild, the parish’s altar guild, will meet on Saturday, November 7, at 1:00 PM, following the 12:10 PM Mass . . . Flowers Needed: We do not yet have donors for flowers for the following dates: November 22 and January 3, 10 and 17. Please contact the Parish Office, if you would like to make a donation . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 321.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010 . . . We have gotten off to a very encouraging start. We have heard back from nearly 17% of those who pledged for 2009. We have received 31 pledges as of October 28 and are at 19.9% of our goal of $476,100.00. We are very grateful. Commitment Sunday is November 22, the Feast of the Christ the King. We hope to have received all pledges by that date (though we never say “no” to a pledge card!) . . . What things cost at Saint Mary’s: From Steven Heffner, treasurer, “Saint Mary’s is loaded with pipes – pipes that carry water, pipes that carry steam, and pipes that make glorious music. Over the past few years, keeping them all in working order has been a challenge. The regular maintenance for our organ pipes costs about $7.68 per day, while the maintenance and repair of our less glamorous pipes has cost us an average of $155.83 per day! We tend to focus on the former when we think of Saint Mary’s, but none of us could enjoy Mr. Kennerley’s tremendous talent without the heat and restrooms supplied by the latter!”
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the Preludio Sine Nomine, No. 1, of Six Pieces by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Five Voices by William Byrd (1543-1623). Byrd was a Roman Catholic in protestant Elizabethan England. In spite of the political difficulties he faced due to his faith, his career flourished because of his protection by the Queen, a great admirer of Byrd’s music. The composer was a distinguished gentleman of her Chapel Royal, which at that time was the greatest honor a musician in England could receive. Much of his Latin music, however, was written for clandestine Catholic liturgies in private homes (including this work, one of three Latin masses), and therefore has a somewhat intimate character. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Beati mundo corde by Byrd who set all four of the Minor Proper texts for the Liturgy of All Saints. At the Requiem for All Souls’ Day, the choir will sing Requiem and Dorian Mass by Howells. Both pieces are very rarely sung, partly for their difficulty, and also because of their history. The Requiem, composed in 1936, was set for divided mixed chorus with soprano, tenor and baritone soloists. The work was the first of two which arose from the tragic death in 1935 of the composer’s only son Michael Kendrick Howells, aged nine, from either meningitis or polio (he had also found Elgar’s death in 1934 difficult to bear.) However, it was not until 1980 that the Requiem was re-assembled from manuscript and released for publication and performance. The Saint Mary’s Singers will rehearse this Sunday at 3:00 PM to sing for Solemn Evensong and Benediction for All Saints. All are welcome to join us! James Kennerley
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Studies in Sacred Scripture: Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, led by Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., Wednesday, November 4, 7:00 PM, following the evening Parish Requiem Mass . . . Studies in the History of Christian Art: The Adult Education Class will not meet this coming Sunday, November 1 . . . Sunday, November 8, 10:00 AM: “Icons, A Very Short Introduction.” Prof. Dennis Raverty, Ph.D., friend and neighbor of the parish, is teaching a two-part series 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 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 . . . The Adult Education Class will not meet on Sunday, November 29, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
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.
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.