FROM THE RECTOR: KNOWING MORE
I recently came across a book by Oliver Wendell Evans, New Orleans (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1959). It’s what I would call a travel book, an appreciation of the history and culture of the city before integration. Sadly, it is the product of a very narrow view of the world, even, I daresay for its time.
The book is mostly about “white” New Orleans. Evans devotes a great deal of space to writing about the three “classes” of white persons that can be found living in the French Quarter (84 -88). He’s fascinated by sexuality: “Sex in the Quarter is not specialized: it is all pervading” (80). Bars are “sinister” and full of “sexuality” (81). And, “Of the more ordinary perversions, homosexuality is of course the most evident” (81). This is in the section of the book on neighborhoods. The last part of the book is called “Special Aspects.” Here there are five chapters. These are, in order, The Mardi Gras, The Food, The Music, The Cemeteries, and The Negroes – yes, “Negroes” are a “Special Aspect” of New Orleans – and I’m not making it up (179-185).
What was most interesting to me were not the racial views of the author, who at the time was teaching English at the University of Illinois, or of his publishers – although it is stunning to be reminded so forcefully of the segregated world which I knew as a child. What was most interesting was what was not said about life in New Orleans. One example – and one could cite many more, Evans took no notice of a substantial New Orleans Jewish community and a substantial anti-Semitism that shaped commercial and social life. Evans was a New Orleans native but the New Orleans he described in 1959 did not exist.
I write on the first day of July, very aware and proud that on Sunday our nation will celebrate its “Glorious Fourth.” For all the challenges that have faced and still face our nation, we remain a place where people are free to live and to worship as they choose. Our country has been far more a force for right in this world than for wrong, and we still are. As long as we continue to have the courage to search and speak the truth, I think we will continue to be a force for good in God’s world.
You may recall that the Episcopal Church had no formal celebration of Independence Day until the 1928 Prayer Book, when it became an optional observance. Too many of our Church members, not to mention our first American bishop, had fought for the British during the Revolution. This memory was still alive in 1892 when the 1789 Prayer Book was revised. The 1979 Prayer Book permits the observance of Independence Day on Sunday. That is not our parish tradition; but we will sing two great “national” hymns at the Solemn Mass.
The hymn at the preparation of the gifts will be “Lift every voice and sing.” Two brothers are responsible for it. James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) wrote the text; John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) composed the tune. It was written in 1900 for an all-black school in Jacksonville, Florida. There were many reasons for African-Americans not to be hopeful about their future in 1900, but the Johnson brothers were men of Christian faith and faith in the future of their country. Their hymn became well-known beyond the African-American community during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. The hymn is not listed in the “National Songs” section of the hymnal, but in the section “Christian Responsibility.” I think of it as one of our great national songs.
The final hymn is “God of our fathers, whose almighty hand.” The text was written by a priest of the Church, Daniel Crane Roberts (1841-1907). The tune was composed by George William Warren (1828-1902), organist, Saint Thomas Church, New York City.
There are many reasons to be concerned about our country at the present time. Unemployment is a reality for far too many, and one fears that it may not change in the near future. Our country remains at war. We remember daily at Mass the men and women who are on active duty in war zones. At Evening Prayer, Father Smith recently began including in our final prayers a petition for the safety of the city. It’s a prayer I’m including now too. I remain entirely optimistic about the future of our country, our people, and, of course, our Episcopal Church. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Martin and Sherry who are to be married on Sunday, July 4; for Bonnie, Carol, Kevin, Clark, Gerardo, Cesar, Pamela, MaryJane, Sharon, Chris, Rolf, Daisy, Ross, Nicholas, Elsa, William, Gert, Mary, George, Rick, and Pegram, PRIEST; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, and Benjamin; and for the repose of the soul of Grace . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 4: 1896 Henry John Schnorr; 1907 Whiting Pearson; 1910 Herbert Arthur Link; 1911 William Joseph Anstett; 1986 Richard Johnson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . We have just received word of the death last month at the age of 102 of Grace Marjorie Wildner. She was married here at Saint Mary’s on April 20, 1930. Please pray for her and for all who mourn. S.G.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Holy Matrimony will be celebrated for Martin Franks and Sherry McCaffery on Sunday, July 4, following the Solemn Mass . . . Independence Day is observed on Monday, July 5. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The noonday services are offered. The parish office is closed . . . . Friday, July 16, 1:00 PM, Concert by Angelus, Dana Farrell, director . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, July 3. Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, July 10.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Smith is on vacation and returns to the parish office on Monday, July 26 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 242, Saint Peter and Saint Paul 64.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . This Sunday we are glad to welcome the choir of Downing College, Cambridge University, directed by organ scholar Camilla Godlee. The prelude is an improvisation on National Hymn (“God of our fathers”), and the postlude a Fantasia on America. The setting of the Mass Ordinary is Mass in G, D 167 by Franz Schubert (1797-1828). The second of six mass settings, the work was composed in less than a week (March 2 to 7, 1815). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Beati quorum via from Three Motets, Opus 38, by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Born in Ireland and residing in England for most of his life, Stanford is particularly noted for his choral and organ music. In 1873 he became organist at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, for whom the Three Motets were composed. Later, he was professor of music at the university. 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.
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