FROM THE RECTOR: Bows and Genuflections
At an ordinary weekday celebration of the Eucharist, there will be a reader, a server and a priest. During the course of the Mass, the celebrant will genuflect when he or she enters and leaves, at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer, and three times during the Communion rite. That’s six genuflections; but there are many more bows. These are made mostly by the celebrant to the assembly, as a sign to the priest and to the congregation of whose servant she or he is.
Some observers of Saint Mary’s might think that the ceremonial here, past and present, is simply a copy of the ceremonial of the Roman Church. It’s not. Saint Mary’s has never been a “Roman Rite” Anglican parish. Saint Mary’s is a Christian community with an orientation to the renewal within our Anglican tradition of congregational worship.
Anglicans have been studying and writing about liturgy since before the first service in English was published in 1544. Anglicans have been ready to embrace the work of scholars in other traditions when it has made sense. Sadly, we let the ecumenical hopes of the 1970s trump reality when we adopted almost without change the new Roman Catholic English language versions for many liturgical texts in Rite II – but that’s a subject for another day. This article is mostly about bowing. My understanding of the bows the priests make during an ordinary Eucharist grows out of two things, Mass practice in seminary and serving with acolytes, young and old, at the altar.
In my Mass practice group, the question came up about why a priest joins hands at the words “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. I remember being surprised by Father Louis Weil’s answer. A priest does not bow at that point if he or she is celebrating at an altar while facing the congregation. The position for “giving thanks” is standing with hands extended and open. At a celebration where the priest faces the altar and not the congregation for the body of the Eucharistic Prayer, the bow was made by the priest before he turned from facing the assembly as a sign he was the congregation’s servant.
In seminary, lay servers bowed to the clergy deacon at the altar; the clergy did not bow to the lay servers. In parishes in Dallas and Baton Rouge after seminary, I was responsible for training the acolytes, mostly children and teenagers. From the beginning, it felt awkward to me to tell a child or an adult to bow to me. I quickly learned that by bowing I could avoid saying words. Bows became an everyday signal to those who served. In the context of the Church living into the insights of the twentieth-century liturgical movement, bowing has taken on a profound meaning for me. The congregation is the chief sign of the presence of Christ among us – not the assembly’s building, not its furnishings, not the reserved Sacrament, but God’s people.
One of the most important things that is in our new Prayer Book is the formulation called “The Baptismal Covenant” (Prayer Book, 304-305). In a sense it is new to our Prayer Book tradition, but its purpose was not. In the old rite, an adult was asked three questions about faith, one about his or her desire to be baptized, and one question about Christian life, “Wilt thou then obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?” (The Book of Common Prayer , 278). The Prayer Book expanded this to include not only the historic creed of baptism, the Apostles’ Creed, but to make more explicit what this faith means for living.
One of the many reasons I am proud of the Episcopal Church and committed to Christ as a member of this Church is its welcome for all people. Yes, there are some Episcopal congregations and individual Episcopalians who practice discrimination. Yes, a great deal of the Anglican Communion and the wider Christian community continues to teach and practice discrimination against women and homosexual persons. But the Episcopal Church and many other churches and congregations do not. “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” remains one of our great slogans. The number of bows? Ordinarily twenty – not counting the times one bows one’s head very slightly at the names of Jesus and Mary. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, Santiago, Clark, Gerardo, Cesar, Pamela, Wayne, MaryJane, Sharon, James, Robert, Chris, Rolf, Daisy, Ross, Nicholas, Elsa, William, Gert, Mary, George, Rick, and Pegram, PRIEST; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, and Benjamin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 27: 1928 Edward Granville Nellis ; 1987 Bertram Peate, Robert Hunsicker
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Martin Franks of Washington, D.C., and Sherry McCaffery of Washington, D.C. 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 third time of asking. S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, at the Solemn Mass, Samantha Eleanore Tommasino is to be baptized. Samantha is the daughter of Liz and Salvatore Tommasino and the sister of Alexander (“Xander”) Tommasino . . . On Sunday, June 27, at 3:30 PM, the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario, will present a choral concert in the church. Admission is free. The choir’s program is called Magnificat! and includes works by a wide range of composers who have composed settings for that canticle or have been inspired by it. Matthew Larkin will direct the choir and James Kennerley will serve as accompanist . . . Tuesday, June 29, is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. On Tuesday, the 12:10 Mass is said and there will also be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, June 26. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, July 3.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Monday, July 5, we observe Independence Day with our Federal Holiday Schedule. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, the noon services are offered, and the parish offices are closed . . . Copies of New York Polyphony’s new CD, Tudor City, are now on sale in the Gift Shop . . . A number of different twelve-step groups meet in the Mission House throughout the week. A new group, Overeaters Anonymous, is now holding a meeting on Fridays at 6:00 PM in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House. We are happy to be able to welcome them to Saint Mary’s . . . Father Smith will be away from the parish from Monday, June 28, until Sunday, July 25. He returns to the office on Monday, July 26 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 249
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude before Mass this Sunday is Preludio “Sine Nomine” by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). Music today is sung by Geoffrey Williams, countertenor, and James Kennerley, organist and music director. At the ministration of Communion, Mr. Williams sings the aria Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust! from the cantata of the same name, BWV 170, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The cantata, composed for the sixth Sunday after Trinity, was first performed on July 28, 1726, and is scored for solo alto voice, strings and oboe d’amore. The libretto is by Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717), and deals with the interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel passage from Matthew that was appointed for that Sunday. The movement sung today is the opening aria, where a pastoral and contemplative instrumental background is combined with an expansive, unfolding vocal melody. James Kennerley
SAINT MARY’S IN CENTRAL PARK . . . Parishioner Grace Bruni is leading an expedition of Saint Marians to Central Park to picnic in style and to hear the New York Philharmonic and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra on the Great Lawn on Tuesday, July 13. This free concert, which begins at 8:00 PM, features works of Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Ravel, and Gershwin, along with a fireworks display following the concert. You can meet Grace in the Park or travel uptown with MaryJane Boland and a group from Saint Mary's after Evening Prayer. For more information, or if you have questions, please contact Grace or MaryJane.
LOOKING AHEAD . . . On Sunday, July 4, Solemn Mass will be sung by the Choir of Downing College, Cambridge University, directed by organ scholar Camilla Godlee. The music for the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM will include works by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and Pierre Villette (1926-1969) . . . Friday, July 16, 1:00 PM, Concert by Angelus, Dana Farrell, director . . . Thursday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM, Mass at 6:20 PM . . . Monday, July 26, Saint James (transferred), Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM, Mass at 6:20 PM . . . Friday, August 6, Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . On Sunday, August 15, 2010, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus, will be celebrant for the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM in observance of the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on August 9, 1960. Our guest preacher will be the Reverend Dr. David Wood, parish priest, Grace Church Joondalup, and Anglican chaplain, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. More details will follow later this summer . . . Third Annual Oktoberfest and Hymn Sing, Saturday, October 2, 6:00-9:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall and the Organ Loft. All are invited. Please consider inviting your friends. James Kennerley will be giving his wonderful “tour of the organ,” something that children of all ages will find fascinating and entertaining . . . In November, the Visual Arts Program will present Nativity Scenes: Works on Paper by Carlos Molina in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Saturday, December 11, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, Advent Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield. Father Beddingfield, who served at Saint Mary’s as curate for parish life and outreach, is the Rector of All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Sunday, June 27, Annual Gay Pride March. At 6:30 PM, following the March, there will be a Festive Choral Evensong at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street. The Rt. Rev. Herbert Donovan is the officiant. The preacher is the Rev. Altagracia Pérez, rector of Holy Faith Church, Inglewood, California.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THE SUMMER SCHEDULE . . . During the summer, the Daily Office on Sundays is said, not sung. Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM. Evening Prayer is offered at 5:00 PM.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Miller Theatre at Columbia University will again present its early-music series here at Saint Mary’s during the 2010-2011 season. The series consists of five concerts, which include appearances by such well-known and popular early-music groups as Stile Antico, New York Polyphony, Sequentia, Le Poème Harmonique, and The Tallis Scholars. The first concert takes place on Saturday, October 16, at 8:00 PM. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 212-854-7799.
A GENTLE REMINDER . . . Parish Treasurer Randy Morgan and Business Manager Aaron Koch would like to remind the members of the parish community that it is very important to keep up to date on pledge payments during the summer months, a time when the parish has often experienced “cash-flow” problems. Thank you to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.
ALTAR FLOWERS are needed on the following dates: July 18, July 25, August 6 (the Feast of the Transfiguration), August 22, August 29, September 19, September 26, October 10, and October 24. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are still collecting non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing on Sundays for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s. Look for the basket at the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. If you would like to volunteer at the Food Pantry, please speak to Father Smith.
SAINT RAPHAEL’S GUILD OF USHERS . . . We are looking for a few good women and men who are willing to serve as ushers at Mass on Sunday mornings, on holy days, and at Evensong and Benediction on Sunday afternoons during the academic year. Ushers usually serve one Sunday per month. If you like to meet new people, are eager to welcome our visitors, and are willing to help newcomers learn more about the parish, perhaps this ministry is for you. If you are interested, please speak to George Handy, Randy Morgan, or Father Jay Smith.
THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY . . . Once again this year, we are seeking patrons and donors willing to defray the costs of the receptions in Saint Joseph’s Hall following Solemn Mass on holy days. We now have a donor who has volunteered to sponsor the reception on All Saint’s Day, Monday, November 1. If you would like more information, or if you would like to volunteer to help on a particular holy day, please contact Father Jay Smith.
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
The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator