The Angelus

Volume XII, Number 3

From The Rector: A Way of Life

Sometimes it’s hard to explain that Saint Mary’s traditions of worship aren’t a matter of style; they reflect a commitment to a way of life.  This is not immediately apparent to all who join us for worship.  Although there is a special glory to our church building, we are just ordinary people.  We come together week by week to be fed with Christ’s Body so we can live out our lives as members of his Body.  At its best – and our best – our Sunday Eucharist and our celebrations on the greater festivals nurture our life in Christ.  Like countless generations before us, worship enables us to grow in our relationship with God and with each other and to do the work to which Christ calls us.

This Sunday there will be visitors who remark on the rose-colored vestments we will be wearing – and this is not just a matter of style for us.  The usage of rose, instead of purple, on the Third Sunday of Advent is thought to be a “bleeding” – liturgist Louis Weil’s word – of Lent into Advent.  In the season of Lent, on the fourth Sunday, there has traditionally been a lessening of the spiritual disciplines of the season.  Three outward signs of this were the color, music and flowers.

This “bleeding” makes some sense in a restrained celebration in Advent.  The season has never been taken over entirely by a stern discipline the way Lent was overwhelmed.  Advent retains “Alleluia” before the gospel.  Advent is not a season of fasting.  But it is for us still Advent, a respite from a world that is busy celebrating the coming of winter.  That is something human beings have been doing since there have been human beings – and long before we Christians took over the solstice for our own great purposes.

In addition to the great hymns of the season, our parish makes use of some of the most wonderful plainsong that is part of our heritage.  There’s nothing especially penitential about Advent plainsong.  The association, for example, of the texts Creator of the stars of night and Redeemer of the nations come with wonderful tunes seems to create spiritual space in a way few things can at this time of year.

Saint Mary’s will not be decorated for Christmas until Christmas.  We won’t be singing Christmas carols and hymns until Christmas Eve.  There will be flowers on the altar and rose vestments this Sunday – and there will be the historic entrance psalm, Gaudete in Domino semper.  The full English text for the antiphon is from Saint Paul, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance; the Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:4-5).  The verse is, You have blessed your land, O Lord; you have put an end to Jacob’s captivity (Psalm 85:1)Our call in Christ as a community and as individuals is to make these words live.  Otherwise, our worship is just style and not what it is intended to be: an expression of our faith.

Through the remaining days of the season, we will let the great tradition of the Church remind us that it was into the poverty of this world that the Lord Jesus was born.  And into the poverty of this world our Christ still sends us out to do his work, rejoicing as we go.  Stephen Gerth


SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Steven, Wayne, Philip, Jack, Sandy, Burt, Dennis, Regina, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Timothy, Alex, Dorothy, Sharon, Margaret, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, and Emil, religious; and for the repose of the soul of Marshall . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 13: 1876 Mary Esther Weston; 1947 Minnie Simonson; 1961 Katherine Ann Collins.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Saturday, December 12, Saint Mary’s Guild work day, following the noon Mass . . . Saturday, December 12, is the 114th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church.  We will commemorate this at the 12:10 PM Saturday Mass . . . Saturday, December 12, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary’s: The Early Music Series of The Miller Theatre at Columbia University presents The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips, director.  For tickets and information, please contact the Miller Theatre Box Office, 212.854.7799 . . . Sunday School for Children meets at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Education Class will not meet on Sunday.  The class will be in recess until mid-January. We will announce our adult-education classes for 2010, including the Wednesday Evening Bible Study, next week.  Please stay tuned! . . . Monday, December 14, Meeting of the Board of Trustees, Arch Room, Mission House, 2nd Floor, at 5:00 PM. Please note the earlier time . . . Following the Board Meeting and Evening Prayer, there will be a reception in the Rectory to honor and thank the members of Saint Mary’s Legacy Society, 6:30-8:00 PM.  If you have not done so already, please contact Father Smith and let him know if you plan to attend the reception.  If you do plan to attend, but cannot arrive before 6:30 PM, please go to the Rectory entrance at 144 West 47th Street . . . Sister Deborah Francis and Sister Laura Katharine will be away from the parish Monday, December 14, until the afternoon of Thursday, December 17.  Please keep the sisters and the Community of Saint John Baptist in your prayers as they prepare to elect a new superior . . . On Saturday, December 19, there will be a sacristy work day in preparation for Christmas from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  All are invited . . . Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, December 12; Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, December 19. 


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to Canon John Thies for his generous donation of lighting equipment – a large number of fixtures and light bulbs – for the church basement.  John is an honorary canon of the Cathedral Center of Saint Paul, Los Angeles.  He and his wife Sara Thies are national friends of Saint Mary’s . . . Thank you to John Fry, who once again provided us with an abundance of fresh pine boughs for this year’s Advent Wreath . . . Thank you also to the many volunteers who worked on our large Christmas-Appeal mailing last Saturday: Grace Bruni, George Handy, Tom Heffernan, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch, Brenda Morgan, Heather Peskin, Marie Rosseels, Andrew Smith, and José Vidal.  They made quick and pleasant work of a big job . . . Many thanks to all those who made December 8 such a wonderful day here at Saint Mary’s: to our talented musicians and our dedicated and able servers and ushers; to Daniel Craig and Sister Laura Katharine, who put in extra hours working in the sacristy and with the candles on the altar; and to Grace Bruni, Scott Holman, and José Vidal, who organized and prepared the festive reception and provided gracious hospitality.  We are also grateful for the generosity of the parishioner whose donation funded the reception and allowed us to provide hospitality to our many guests . . . Thank you to parishioner Grace Bruni, who has been helping Father Smith with a complicated, and somewhat tedious, computer project related to the Stewardship Campaign; and, as always, we are grateful to Dick Leitsch, who continues to help around the office in a variety of different ways . . . Paul Wojnicki and Alena Chalmovska of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England, were married in the Lady Chapel on Tuesday, December 8.  Please keep them in your prayers.  Thank you to our sextons and to Scott Holman and Dick Leitsch, who, on a very busy day at Saint Mary’s, readied the chapel and served at the altar . . . Volunteers are needed to help decorate the church: Sunday, December 20, after Solemn Mass; Tuesday, December 22, and Wednesday, December 23, work sessions beginning around 9:30 AM; Thursday, December 24, final work session at 10:00 AM, following the 9:00 AM Mass. There will also be a work session after Epiphany (date and time to be announced) to “un-decorate” the church.  Please contact Marie Rosseels or Rick Austil if you would like to help.  All are welcome! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 299; Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary 298.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude at Solemn Mass this Sunday is the chorale prelude on Nun komm’, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is the Chichester Mass by William Albright (1944-1998).  The setting was commissioned by Chichester Cathedral in 1975 to celebrate its 900th anniversary, and its style is a considerable departure from that of most Anglican music.  In the Sanctus, for example, the voices enter aleatorically (at random) within the voice parts – an extremely unusual (and effective) technique for a traditional choir of men and boys!   At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet This is the record of John by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625).  Gibbons was one of the greatest composers of his generation and this motet has become one of his most famous choral works.  It is a setting of text from the King James Version of the Bible for soloist, choir and viols (here played by the organ).  Due to its prescribed use of string instruments (which were seldom, if ever, used in music for the Anglican church at that time), music historians believe that it may have been written for a secular occasion – a feast at Saint John’s College, Oxford. James Kennerley


A NOTE ON ADVENT . . . The last commemoration that falls on an Advent weekday this year is on Monday, December 14, when we remember the life and witness of John of the Cross, a priest of the Roman Church in Spain who died on this day in 1591.  He was a companion of Saint Teresa of Avila and was persecuted by his church community for advocating needed reforms.  His writings are among the great treasures of the Western Church . . . The “O Antiphons” – the basis of the hymn, O come, o come, Emmanuel (The Hymnal, 55), are used with the Magnificat at Evening Prayer beginning on Thursday, December 17.


TAKE A LOOK! . . . Saint Mary’s now has a Flickr gallery where we have posted a large collection of photographs taken by a number of friends and members of the parish.  The photos are of the interior of the church and its artwork; a number of different services and liturgies; mission-and-outreach efforts; and “behind-the-scene” shots of the work and activities of our many volunteers and guild members.  The account can be accessed via our website at or by going directly to the Flickr gallery at  We are very grateful to parishioner Reha Sterbin who kept this project going, organized the photographs, gave of her time and considerable computer expertise, and continues to serve as our resident “photo editor.”  Thank you to all who have generously donated their photographs in recent years.  Please let us know what you think, and speak to Reha if you have photographs that you think might be useful additions to the gallery.


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010 . . . As of December 7, 2009, a total of $377,188.00 has been pledged by 136 households.  This represents 70.5% of this year's goal of $535,044.00.  As our members and friends begin to deal with end-of-year financial matters, we expect to receive a number of additional pledges before January 1.  However, we still have not heard back from 26% of households that pledged for 2009.  We very much hope to receive pledges from those households and from a number of households that have never pledged before.  We are moving slowly but surely towards our goal!  We invite you to join others in supporting Saint Mary's by making a pledge - in order to join your fellow members of the Body of Christ in supporting the mission and witness of this parish, to help us write a budget for the coming year, and to express your gratitude to Almighty God for all his blessings.  If you have questions or comments, or if you need a pledge card, please contact MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Father Smith; and thank you for your continued support of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. J.R.S.


OUTREACH MINISTRIES AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church.  The Pantry serves families living in our own neighborhood. The Pantry fills increasingly important needs during this time of economic difficulty.  Those needs are particularly pressing during the next six weeks or so.  You are invited to bring food or clothing and place it in the basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall after Mass (or at the ushers’ table before Mass).  You can also make a cash donation, if that is more convenient for you (speak to Father Smith about how to do that) . . . 21st Annual New York Cares Coat Drive: Once again this year – between December 1 and December 31 – we are participating in the Coat Drive and we have already received several coats.  You are invited to bring your new or gently used coat(s), for either children or adults, to church on Sundays. We will deliver them to one of the Manhattan donation sites at the end of December . . . We just made another delivery of hand-knitted woolen hats, gloves and scarves to the Seamen’s Church Institute in downtown Manhattan.  The Institute’s Christmas-at-Sea Program donates warm clothing to merchant mariners visiting the Port of New York and New Jersey, who are not always well-equipped to deal with our region’s winter weather.  Thank you to Patricia Mottley, who knitted these items and thank you to Brenda Morgan, who made a trip to the Institute to deliver them.  Please speak to Patricia for more information about this project, and about acquiring wool from the Institute . . . Parish of San Juan Evangelista, Villanueva, Honduras: Though we are not planning a mission trip this year, we hope to be able to continue to provide our friends at San Juan Evangelista with financial support.  Please keep them and all the people of Honduras in your prayers; and please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins for more details.  J.R.S.


CHRISTMAS MUSIC AT SAINT MARY’S . . . December 24 – Christmas Eve (Thursday)At the prelude, 4:30 PM:  Congregational Carols; and Choral Music to include: The Holly and the Ivy – Traditional, arr. David Willcocks (b. 1919); Hodie Christus natus est – Francis Poulenc (1899-1963); and A Hymn to the Virgin – Benjamin Britten (1913–1976); At the Mass, 5:00 PM: Missa Festiva – Marius Monnikendam (1896-1977); Tomorrow shall be my dancing day – John Gardner (b. 1917); What sweeter music – John Rutter (b. 1945); At the prelude, 10:30 PM: Congregational Carols; and Choral Music to include: A Hymn to the Virgin – Benjamin Britten (1913–1976); Tomorrow shall be my dancing day – John Gardner (b. 1917); What sweeter music – John Rutter (b. 1945); At the Mass, 11:00 PM: Messe en sol majeur – Francis Poulenc (1899-1963); O magnum mysterium – Poulenc; Hodie Christus natus est – Poulenc . . . December 25 – Christmas Day (Friday) At the Mass, 11:00 AM: Missa super “Ich stund an einem Morgen” – Jacob Handl (1550-1591); Resonet in laudibus – Handl . . . December 27 – First Sunday of Christmas At the Solemn Mass, 11:00 AM: Mass for Three Voices – William Byrd (1543-1623); Coventry Carol – Traditional; Organ Recital, 4:40 PM: Timothy Brumfield (New York City), recitalist; Christmas Lessons and Carols, 5:00 PM, Sung by the Saint Mary’s Singers. Choral music to include: A child my choice – Richard Wayne Dirksen (1921-2003); In the bleak midwinter – Harold Darke (1888-1976); Adam lay ybounden – Boris Ord (1897–1961); And the glory of the Lord (from Messiah) – George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) . . . January 1 – The Holy Name (New Year’s Day) (Friday) At the Solemn Mass, 11:00 AM, Sung by the Saint Mary’s Singers: Missa de Sancto Albano – Healey Willan (1880-1968); In the bleak midwinter – Harold Darke (1888-1976)



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. 


Parish Staff

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, 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.  The 10:00 AM Adult Education class is in recess until mid-January.


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.