FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR: WHAT IS NEW AND WHAT IS OLD
In many and various ways here at Saint Mary’s, we are constantly bearing witness to both the ancient and the modern. Every day, our liturgy places at its heart the body and blood of our Lord, which we celebrate in a special way this Sunday on Corpus Christi, a feast that rises first in France in the early 1200s and is then extended to the whole of the Western church in 1264 (relatively late in liturgical terms, the distant past for most modern people). Our church building – a magnificent interpretation of the twelfth-century French Gothic splendor, the Sainte-Chapelle – was constructed using a skeleton of iron girders, a high-tech innovation in the 1890s. Our organ, very much a product of the twentieth century, nevertheless finds its ideals in the finest sixteenth- and seventeenth-century instruments of France and Germany. It is the organ, over which I have the great privilege of presiding, that I wish to discuss here.
In January of 2010, we began experiencing problems with the second organ console, situated in the chancel. Sometimes, the organ would play, and then simply stop; at other times, chords would be sustained at random. Clearly, something was wrong! Over the past eighteen months, organ curator Lawrence Trupiano and I did all we could to find the source of the problem. Electrical connections were checked and replaced, and virtually every component of the “computer” inside the organ console was returned to the manufacturer for testing and diagnosis. Everything came back negative. About six months ago, long-time parishioner (and electrical engineer) Richard Theilmann spotted a communication cable strung from the Stations of the Cross – a temporary organ cable that had been cobbled together in time for the Christmas services. Richard’s expertise in this area led to the ultimate repair of the console problems, and we are extremely grateful to him and Larry for days upon days of hard work. In the end, we established that the organ problems were due to various grounding and interference issues that started to appear after a large amount of electrical work was done in the basement of the church in January of 2010. The solution was to lay a new, virtually indestructible communication cable through the basement, this time following the path of the original 1896 organ cable to the back of the church and up into the organ gallery. (I hasten to add that these problems had nothing whatsoever to do with the improvements to the lighting in the church made around the same time.)
That old cable belonged to Saint Mary’s first instrument, a reincarnation of the original 1886 organ constructed by the Geo. Jardine and Son organ company. At the time of the dedication recital in 1895, the Jardine company wrote highly of their technological achievements, including the fact that the two separate organs (located over the choir, and in the rear gallery) were both controllable from two similar consoles, located at each end of the church. The article claims that “the whole action is constructed on the most improved electro-pneumatic system…that [has] stood the test of several years’ use” (taken from Kyle Babin’s 2008 doctoral thesis on the history of music at Saint Mary’s; Kyle’s thesis was very useful to me as I researched and wrote this article.) Evidently, technical problems ensued, and repeated discussions of those problems appear in the Trustees’ Minutes from 1900 until 1932, when a new instrument was installed. It appears that Jardine was attempting to accomplish a much more complicated technical feat than he had bargained for.
By 1932, America was fully immersed in the economic gloom of the Great Depression. At the same time, the Trustees finally acknowledged the desperate need for an instrument to replace the long-ailing Jardine. G. Donald Harrison, the Assistant General Manager of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company in Boston, offered to install the first portion of the instrument for $25,000, and construction was begun that summer. This was not the first offer from the company – in December of 1930, the sum of $28,000 was offered – and a case design was created in September of 1929. Despite this design, and two others that exist, the casework was to be postponed for financial reasons. Opus 891 was to consist of 86 ranks; of these, 59 were built and the rest prepared for. At this time, the relationship between Ernest Skinner and G. Donald Harrison was becoming dissipated – more and more customers were asking the latter to design their instruments. It is at this point that one realizes the significance of Opus 891. In choosing Harrison’s radical design, Saint Mary’s was enabling the establishment of what came to be known as the “American Classic Organ,” a design philosophy that has come to influence the organ scene ever since.
And so we see the move from modern to ancient – from the technologically innovative Jardine instruments to the “American Classic” design of Harrison, which harked back to the organs of the old French and German masters. In 1942, Ernest White, then the parish organist, instigated the completion of the instrument, which was rebranded as Opus 891-A. In reality, much more was done than simply adding the prepared pipes into the instrument. White had very clear ideas about how the organ should progress, and he was intent on “enriching” the current organ sound. Most notable was the addition of several mixtures (stops essential to ancient European organs, which play several pitches at once, creating a brilliant effect) and a chorus of Baroque-style, experimental reeds to the Positiv division. As in 1932, Harrison seemed to have billed the church for considerably less than he might have done for the work rendered – perhaps he realized that the Saint Mary’s instrument would enable him to perfect his various experimental ideas before applying them to other organs.
By the time that Kyler Brown joined the music department in 1988, Opus 891-A was in a pitiful state. Even after the 1942 work, the 1932 plans were still unfinished, and sixty years of New York City carbon, Saint Mary’s candles and copious incense soot had taken their toll on the organ’s various mechanisms. From 1990-1995, Mann and Trupiano was charged with the full restoration and completion of the instrument, which included the addition of many stops planned for in the original instrument, as well as the addition of a second console, recalling the original 1896 scheme. The main console was fitted with a solid-state digital control mechanism, which allows the organist to set and recall virtually unlimited combinations of stops instantly. The modern and the ancient meet once again. In recent years, several other stops have been added; and work on the instrument is ongoing, work driven by the dedication of organ curator, Larry Trupiano, whose relationship with the instrument spans decades.
The story of the organs at Saint Mary’s is one of the constant reconciliation, or union, of the best of both the old and the new. The same applies to our magnificent building and to our rich liturgical traditions. This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (officially, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ). The church owes this celebration primarily to the devotional practices of the laity in the midst of the growing theological emphasis in the West on the real presence in the Eucharist during the thirteenth century. And so, yet again, we return, as we do each and every Sunday, to the recalling of that ancient mystery of the Eucharist. The choir (joined by brass) will sing its last Sunday until the Assumption in August – and we will process with the Sacrament around a very contemporary Times Square. I look forward to sharing with you this special celebration of both the ancient and the modern. James Kennerley
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED for Sharon, Jimmy, John, George, Susan, Peter, Andres, Nicolas, Nathaniel, Krislea, Julia, Hema Apu, Basil, Isaura, Maria Castro, Lee, Donna, Robert, Timothy, Dorothy, Rolf, Dianne, Gert, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Christine, Rob, and Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Carol Pepper, Jacqueline Brunetto Fields, and Meryin . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 26: 1871 William Hallenbeck; 1911 Lilian Jane Murrell; 1914 Elizabeth Dougherty; 1916 Anna Feickert; 1928 Charles William Anderson; 1946 Richard Bartlett Smith; 1962 Moyra deVesge O'Connor; 1985 Kenneth Mealy.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Friday, June 24, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, there will be a Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. Friday abstinence is not observed on this feast of Our Lord . . . On Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 26, the 11:00 AM liturgy will be Solemn Mass, Procession through Times Square, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; Evening Prayer will be said in the church at 5:00 PM . . . Tuesday, June 28, 4:00-8:00 PM, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Visual Arts Program Reception to mark the exhibition in the gallery, Seeing and Believing: Works by Charlotte Lichtblau. Members and friends of Saint Mary’s, and their guests, are invited to attend the reception and meet those who are well-acquainted with Charlotte Lichtblau’s very striking work. All are welcome . . . Wednesday, June 29, is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. There will be a Sung Mass at 12:10 PM and at 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, June 30, 10:00 AM, Mass of the Resurrection for Dr. Carol Pepper . . . Sunday, July 3, The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Full summer worship schedule begins: Morning Prayer 8:30 PM, Mass 9:00 and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Evening Prayer 5:00 PM. (Sung Matins, Church School, Adult Education, and Evensong and Benediction will all resume on Sunday, October 2, 2011.) . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish from Friday, July 1, until Thursday, July 28. He returns to the office on Friday, July 29. (This is a modification of his plans that were announced in last week’s newsletter.) . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, June 25. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, July 2.
MASS OF THE RESURRECTION . . . A funeral Mass of the Resurrection for parishioner Dr. Carol Pepper will be celebrated in the church on Thursday, June 30, at 10:00 AM. A reception for friends, family, and members of the parish will follow in Saint Joseph’s Hall. No funeral-home hours are planned. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Austen Riggs Center (www.austenriggs.org) or the William Alanson White Institute (www.wawhite.org).
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 observance began on the Friday after Pentecost, June 17.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Sharon Singh has left the hospital and is now at home. Please keep her in your prayers. . . Parishioner John DeCamillis was in the hospital briefly this week for a surgical procedure. He is now at home. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Altar flowers are needed for the following dates: July 31, and August 5, 21 and 28. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the parish finance office . . . If you would like to make a donation and sponsor the reception following the Solemn Mass on Monday, August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, please contact Aaron Koch or Father Smith . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 299.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . All but one of the composers whose music we will hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday had close ties with the Venetian school of church music. The prelude at Solemn Mass this morning is Toccata quarta del secondo tuono by Claudio Merulo (1533–1604). The movements of the Mass ordinary today are drawn from Symphonae sacrae, a large corpus of works by Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1553/56–1612) that was published in 1597 and 1615. Probably born in Venice, Gabrieli represented the culmination of the Venetian school, whose compositions came to be characterized by their polychoral forces (several choirs of singers and/or instruments) and the frequent use of dialogues and echo effects. Instrumentalists and singers would be located in the various musicians’ galleries of the church, producing thrilling stereophonic effects. The Mass movements are scored for three choirs of four voices each, of which one choir is performed by brass instruments. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Ave verum corpus by Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594). At the preparation of the Sacrament, the choir sings O sacrum convivium by Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510–1586), uncle of Giovanni. During Benediction, the hymn O Salutaris hostia is sung to a setting by Adrian Willaert (c. 1490–1562) and the hymn Tantum ergo to a setting by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) . . . This is the final Sunday that the professional choir will sing until October. The choir sings each Sunday at the Solemn Mass from October to Corpus Christi, in addition to the major feasts of the church year that fall on weekdays. The full choir will sing next at the Feast of the Assumption, Monday, August 15 at 6:00 PM. Solemn Mass that day will be preceded by an organ recital at 5:30 PM. During the summer months, services are sung by smaller groups of singers or soloists drawn from the main choir. Please check the website for details. James Kennerley
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We recently made a donation to the New York City Coalition against Hunger (NYCCAH) and received a gracious acknowledgment of the gift. Joel Berg, Executive Director of NYCCAH, writes, “[Your] donation is greatly appreciated and will help continue to ensure that New Yorkers don’t have to decide between paying rent, paying medical bills, and buying food for their families…your contribution will be used to help hungry men, women and children move beyond the soup kitchen towards greater economic self-sufficiency.” NYCCAH is located at 50 Broad St., Suite 1520, New York, NY 10004. Their website is www.nyccah.org.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM (VAP) . . . A new exhibition, Seeing and Believing: Works by Charlotte Lichtblau, is now hanging in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Ms. Lichtblau was born in Vienna in 1925 and came with her family to the United States in 1940. Since the early 1950s, she has often returned to Austria, working both in Vienna and in Altaussee, located in Austria’s Salzkammergut region. She has painted the mountains, lakes and countryside in and around Altaussee for more than seventy years. Her work includes landscapes, fantasias, paintings of mythical figures and biblical scenes. Ms. Lichtblau is a modernist, whose work has been deeply influenced by the European tradition of expressionism. She has had two major retrospective exhibitions in Austria in addition to a recent retrospective here in New York at The 8th Floor Space in Chelsea. Ms. Lichtblau has also worked as an art critic, publishing reviews and essays in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Herald Tribune, Arts Magazine and other publications. Her works now on view in Saint Joseph’s Hall include Gothic Madonna (1965), Water into Wine (The Wedding at Cana) (1966), Stabat Mater (1983) and Annunciation in Altaussee I & II (2006). Articles about the exhibition have appeared in several online publications. Those articles can be accessed here, here, and here.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . Monday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish office is closed . . . Friday, July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Friday, August 5, Eve of the Transfiguration, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, August 6, Transfiguration, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Monday, August 15, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . August 24, Saint Bartholomew, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Monday, September 5, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. The parish office is closed . . . Thursday, September 8, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM.
THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST . . . The members of the community will be gathering at the convent in Mendham, NJ, to celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on Friday, June 24. Their annual Commemoration Day is Saturday June 25. This is the Community's annual celebration with associates and friends. There will be a Solemn Eucharist that day at 10:30 AM. The principal celebrant will be the Right Reverend Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark. The preacher at the Eucharist will be Mary Donovan, the author of A Different Call: Women's Ministries in the Episcopal Church, 1850-1920. Following the Eucharist, lunch will be served on the cloister. The sisters have also begun a capital campaign. One of their fundraising efforts involves the sale of The Nun Better Cookbook, a volume newly produced by the Community. There are 380 recipes in the book, which has hard covers and a tough comb binding. Each section of the book is marked by an attractive tabbed divider. The cost of each book is $18.00, plus shipping and handling. For more information or to order a copy (or two!), please contact Sister Pamela, C.S.J.B., or call 973-543-4641 x 9.
KEEPING OUR DOORS OPEN . . . Because of this parish’s location and traditions, we are often privileged to welcome visitors from around the world. Last Sunday afternoon, Lic. Antonio Leaño Reyes, Rector and President of the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico, and two members of the university faculty, were walking by Saint Mary’s and came in to the church as we were singing Evensong and Benediction. They stayed for both the service and the reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall. They were deeply moved by the service and expressed their gratitude. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all those who continue to support this parish so generously, allowing us to keep our doors open and to continue our ministry to the Times Square neighborhood and beyond. Jay Smith
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector;
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate;
The Reverend James Pace, assisting priest;
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon;
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.
The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager;
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons.