From the Rector: Humbly and Daily
It was our former organist and music director Robert McCormick who put me on to a word change in one of my favorite hymns, “Only-begotten, Word of God eternal.” The hymn text is based on a ninth century song for the consecration of a church. Maxwell Julius Blacker (1822-1888), a priest of the Church of England, was the basic translator and author of the text we now use. It was sung at the preparation of the gifts at the Solemn Mass on Candlemas. This hymn came into use in the Episcopal Church in The Hymnal 1940. It’s been popular ever since, especially because of the wonderful tune, Rouen, that the editors of that hymnal chose for it.
The Hymnal 1940 editors did make a number of changes in Blacker’s original text that seem entirely helpful. One change was curious – and this is the one Robert put me on to: in the second verse, Blacker wrote, “at the mystic banquet, daily adoring.” For whatever reason, the 1940 editors changed the word from “daily” to “humbly.”
I’m pretty sure that in 1940 no one imagined how few of our parish communities would be able in 2010 to keep the doors of their churches open seven days a week and to offer daily what the Prayer Book calls “the regular services of the Church.” From the day the doors of our first church opened, December 8, 1870, Saint Mary’s has been committed to being a parish where “humbly” and “daily” the Body of Christ gathers, again, from the first day.
The Prayer Book catechism has a very useful definition of prayer, “Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words” (page 856). Christians pray daily. We can’t help it. Our lives are bound up with God’s life. Whether we come together on Sundays and weekdays in community or whether we carry on with little or no cognition of God’s presence, we can’t help but be in prayer. God is present in our lives, not absent.
We are very privileged at Saint Mary’s to have received a particularly rich inheritance of community prayer. Our church is a place where the gentleness and the glory of God can be perceived. The diversity of our parish community, the richness of our building and the simplicity and directness of our worship – yes, less is more at Saint Mary’s – offer us a setting where we can aware of God’s plan to bring all people to know him and to know his unending life and love. Saint Mary’s is a place where our relationship with others can be changed, be healed, grow.
In this year of grace, to use an old expression, the First Day of Lent is Wednesday, February 17. The Church will begin its season of preparation to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter. (I will save a digression on the complicated history of how we can get a count of “forty” days of Lent for another newsletter.) We begin with the outward sign of ashes. At our best, we receive ashes as a pledge that during this season we have the intention of turning afresh to God’s grace.
But before Lent, we have one more wonderful Sunday. At the Solemn Mass on February 14, the hymns are all great: “Alleluia! sing to Jesus” (Hymn 460), “Alleluia, song of gladness” (Hymn 122) and “Songs of thankfulness and praise” (Hymn 135). In all three hymns our attention goes not only to Jesus’ Easter victory but to the vision of a new Jerusalem, “where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea” (Hymn 460).
“Alleluia! sing to Jesus,” sung to the tune Hyfrydol –the editors of The Hymnal 1940 also get credit for that brilliant stroke, has probably brought faith and renewal to as many people as any other hymn around. “Songs of thankfulness and praise” is another great hymn. The haunting beauty of the plainsong tune Urbs beata Jerusalem matched with “Alleluia, song of gladness” speaks, I think, to a longing in every human heart to be at rest in God. I invite you to be with us on this Last Sunday after the Epiphany. During Lent, daily and humbly, may God’s Spirit keep the eyes of our hearts focused on the journey to the holy heavenly city. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, Robert, Roger, Henry, Jack, José, Timothy, Nicholas, Sandy, Jack, Chris, Dorothy, Robert, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, and Pegram, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James, Christine, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew; and for the repose of the souls of Edward and John, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 14: 1882 Albertus Longfellow Garden, 1895 Alfonso Rubira, 1953 Walter Petrie Mason.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Edward Linzell, who served here first as an assistant to organist and music director Ernest White and then from 1958 to 1963 as organist and music director, died on January 19, 2010, in Little Rock, Arkansas, where was born in 1925 and where he lived in retirement. Mr. Linzell was interviewed by Kyle Babin in 2007 as part of Kyle’s research for his dissertation on music at Saint Mary’s. Mr. Linzell was one of many remarkable and distinguished musicians who have served this parish. Please pray for him, for his family and for all who mourn . . . The Reverend John Llewellyn Scott, Jr. sometime assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s, died on January 26, 2010. Please pray for him, for his family and for all who mourn. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . James Kennerley plays a complete performance of Messaien’s “La Nativité du Seigneur” this Saturday, February 13, at 2:30 PM . . . Monday, February 15, is Presidents’ Day. The parish will observe our federal holiday schedule. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The parish office will be closed . . . The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday is February 17. On Ash Wednesday, there are Masses at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM and 12:10 PM. The Solemn Mass is at 6:00 PM. The imposition of ashes is offered in the church from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM . . . Stations of the Cross is offered every Friday in Lent at 6:30 PM . . . On Saturday, February 13, and on Saturday, February 20, Father Merz will hear confessions.
LA NATIVITE DU SEIGNEUR . . . This Saturday at 2:30 PM, James Kennerley, organist and music director, will give a complete performance of Olivier Messiaen’s (1908-1992) magnificent nine-movement organ suite, composed in 1935. The work comprises nine musical tableaux (the number nine chosen to honor the Virgin Mary) based on the various scenes of Christ’s birth and life. It was first performed at Saint Mary’s by the then-organist Ernest White in 1938, who played many of Messiaen’s works within a few years of their composition. Interspersed between the movements are appropriate biblical passages, read by parishioner Gypsy da Silva. It is hard to imagine a more ideal instrument and acoustic for this incredible music, and you are warmly invited to attend. The concert lasts an hour, and admission is free.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Congratulations to Erika and Craig Phillips who were married here at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, February 6 . . . Many thanks to all who helped with the Super Bowl party, especially Grace Bruni, Daniel Craig, Rosemary Kulp and Richard Theilmann, Marie Rosseels, Sharon Singh and Reha Sterbin. It was great! . . . Robert Picken is recovering from surgery on his wrist and is doing well. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Father Smith returns to the parish on Sunday, February 14 . . . Last Sunday 276.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude this Sunday is Fugue, Chorale and Epilogue from Six Pieces (1940) by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). The setting of the Mass Ordinary is Missa Brevis, Opus 57, by Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989). Berkeley was professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and among his famous pupils are William Mathias (1934-1992) and John Tavener (b. 1944). This fine setting was composed for the choir of Westminster Cathedral, London, in 1960. At the Ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet The Lord is my shepherd, Opus 91, No. 1, by Berkeley, which was written for the 900th anniversary of the foundation of Chichester Cathedral. It was commissioned by the dean, Walter Hussey, a man who was responsible for an extraordinarily large number of significant commissions from the likes of Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein and Henry Moore . . . At Solemn Evensong, we welcome the choir of the Episcopal Church at Princeton University, and their conductor, Stephen Buzard. Andrew Sheranian, organist and music director, Christ’s Church, Rye, New York, plays the organ recital at 4:40 PM. James Kennerley
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . February 14: Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Led by Mr. T. Remington Slone. Rem is a middler at the General Theological Seminary . . . February 21 and 28, March 7, 14 and 21: The Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Led by Father Peter Powell . . . April 25: Prof. Dennis Raverty, art historian and friend of Saint Mary’s, will give a slide lecture on “God & Nature in the 19th-Century American Romantic Landscape” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets at 6:30 PM on Wednesdays (7:00 PM on Holy Days) in the Mission House. The class is led by Sisters Deborah Francis and Laura Katharine. The class is reading Ecclesiastes and Job.
THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. In addition, the Fridays of Lent are observed traditionally by abstinence from flesh meats. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence from meat . . . The spiritual point of these disciplines is to remind ourselves to hunger for God, not to make anyone sick. Please do not give up common sense. S.G.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS . . . On Fridays in Lent we offer the service of Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM. The service lasts about 35 minutes and includes the singing of Stabat Mater (“At the cross her station keeping”). We use the exceptionally good version of the service published by the Episcopal Church in its Book of Occasional Services.
POSITION OPEN AT THE DIOCESAN OFFICES: Assistant to the Manager of Office Services . . . The major responsibilities are reception, telephone administration, and assisting the manager of office services in all aspects of office management. Experience handling a multi-line phone system, proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel; good verbal, writing and interpersonal skills are essential. Knowledge of the Episcopal Church is a plus. The ideal candidate must have an associate or bachelor’s degree and related work experience. Interested candidates may submit a cover letter and resume to Gloria Fitzgerald by email: firstname.lastname@example.org through February 22. Please, absolutely no telephone inquiries.
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
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
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Steven Gonley, building superintendent,
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons