The Hymnal 1940 was arranged beginning with the first season of the church year, Advent. The first hymn in that hymnal was “Come, thou long expected Jesus born to set thy people free.” It was a good way to begin a hymnal. Last Sunday during the procession I noticed a person in the back sitting by the aisle, struggling with her hymnal, looking for the hymn and not finding it. She was confused by the “S” numbers at the beginning. I tried to be helpful even as I also tried to put out of my mind my anger and regret that the editors of the present hymnal didn’t think about newcomers when they put together the new hymnal.
Can anyone tell me off the top of the head what is hymn number one in our present hymnal? I had to look it up. I can tell you what it was in The Baptist Hymnal used by the congregation of which I was a member when I was a child. It was “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.” In our present hymnal this hymn is number 362 (and one of the few hymns whose number I always seem to remember). It isn’t a great exposition of the dogma of the Trinity, but I love to sing it. [One classic exposition of this dogma is the text commonly called “The Creed of Saint Athanasius” found in the Prayer Book beginning on page 864.]
It has never bothered me that our hymns sometimes do not express perfectly particular Creeds and dogmas. In singing, in praying, and in living, I have always found it easy to accept the traditional catholic exposition of major Christian questions. As a child I heard the gospel and aside from a few years of intellectual gamesmanship in college I have been a practicing Christian all my life. When I was young it was self-evident to me that God loved me. As an adult I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I am less interested in theological debates than in the power of Christian life and prayer to order my life and the life of the world around me. [For those who are interested, this explains to you why I feel comfortable referring to the great Marian feasts by their common titles, August 15: The Assumption - if Mary isn’t in heaven, where is she? - and December 8: The Immaculate Conception - if it wasn’t special, why bother?]
Hymns have functioned across the years of my life as vehicles of prayer and praise, from “Jesus loves me” to “All my hope on God is founded.” The experience of singing and praying hymns in the context of liturgy has affected the way in which I hear Scripture and, thus, the way I understand Scripture. Hymns as much as anything else have shaped not just worship but the way I live and think about things.
I know there are Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I know there is One God in Three Persons. I know the Name and the Names of God. I know where the books are on my shelf if I have a technical question about the Holy Trinity. And I know that when I think about God as Trinity, from the earliest years of my life, the words of “Holy, holy, holy!” which I have heard and sung countless times, shape everything I know and believe about God. S. Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Henry, Jack, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Roy, Peter, John, Jonathan, Joseph, Elwyn, Shirlah, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Evelyn, Susan, Esme, Rodney, priest, and Arthur, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 17: 1972 Charles Henry Genet, June 22: 1958 Rachael Reed Todd, 1967 Edith Kellock Brown.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Luis Javier Mejia of New York City and Lisa Ann Hanson of New York City. 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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminders: Saint Mary’s Guild will meet on Saturday, June 9, at 10:30 AM and Evening Prayer will not be read publicly on Saturday, June 9 . . . Please remember the Puerto Rico Day Parade on Sunday, June 10. Make your travel plans accordingly! . . . Congratulations to Joseph Warren who was confirmed on Pentecost and to Joseph Arsenault, Erwin de Leon and Francine Harvey who were received as members of the Episcopal Church by Bishop Christopher Epting in the wonderful Solemn Mass on Pentecost. The liturgy was very special and Bishop Epting, the ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, was received by the assembly with spontaneous applause during the announcements at the end of Mass. The coffee hour was very special as well and we appreciated the arrangements for food and decoration that people had worked so hard to prepare. It was a grand conclusion to the Easter Season . . . Father Thomas Breidenthal at a Vigil of Pentecost installed Sister Faith Margaret, Sister Catherine Grace and Sister Helena Marie as the new Community Council of the Community of the Holy Spirit. (They will share the responsibilities of Sr. Madeleine Mary, who is completing twelve years of service as superior of the order.) On Pentecost, Father celebrated and preached in the Chapel of Melrose, the Order’s country convent near Brewster, New York. On Trinity Sunday, he will be doing a presentation on the blessing of same-sex unions at the Church of the Heavenly Rest . . . “In Dialogue with Islam” will meet on Wednesday, June 13, at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, 113th Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue, at 7:00 PM . . . Plans are going forward for the renovation of Saint Joseph’s Hall this summer . . . Attendance last Sunday 213.
SCHOOL NEWS . . . Gerald McKelvey's daughter, Nora, graduates on June 14 from the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights and will be entering Connecticut College in the fall. Two days after graduation, Nora will be at the Kennedy Center in Washington along with David and Camille Gillespie’s daughter, Elizabeth, also a student at Packer, to receive national writing awards from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition, a yearly competition administered by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writes. Elizabeth and Nora were among 431 national award winners from a field of about 12,000 entries. Congratulations!
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The First Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. The hymn Te Deum Laudamus (You are God; we praise you) will be sung solemnly (that is, with incense offered) as the postcommunion hymn during the Solemn Mass on Trinity Sunday . . . Yes, some of us were looking at new fabrics for new vestments last Sunday after Mass. Christopher Hyland brought a range of materials from his studio to look at them in the church as we begin to select materials for new sets of vestments. Many of you know that almost all of our vestment sets are badly worn – largely because the parish does not have proper storage for them. The new vestments, however, will not be hung on hangers (which accelerates wear on the shoulders – which is where most of our vestments have disintegrated) and will be kept in the sacristy itself, which is air-conditioned, until a dedicated space for vestments is prepared. Christopher, thank you! We appreciate your efforts . . . The week of Trinity Sunday will be Proper 5 for those who are following the lectionaries . . . The faithful are reminded that the ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord . . . It is a commendable and traditional Anglo-catholic custom to attend Mass on Major Holy Days. One such day that falls this week is the Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle, Monday, June 11 . . . On ordinary weekdays Kyrie eleison is said in English at all weekday Masses. Our present custom is for the celebrant to say each line of the Kyrie and for the congregation to repeat after him or her. This is called “two-fold” recitation and is one of the ways this hymn has been used over the centuries:
Priest Lord, have mercy. People Lord, have mercy.
Priest Christ, have mercy. People Christ, have mercy.
Priest Lord, have mercy. People Lord, have mercy.
JUNE ORDINATION ANNIVERSARIES . . . Father Thomas Breidenthal was ordained deacon on June 12, 1981. Father Stephen Gerth was ordained deacon on June 11, 1983. Mother Rosemari Sullivan was ordained deacon on June 22, 1985. Father Arthur Wolsoncroft was ordained deacon on June 13, 1987. Father Allen Shin was ordained deacon on June 15, 1996.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Trinity Sunday
Monday Saint Barnabas the Apostle
Thursday Basil the Great, bishop
Friday Evelyn Underhill, mystic Abstinence
Saturday Joseph Butler, bishop
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.