A Final Gift To Saint Mary’s
Father Rodney Kirk’s funeral filled Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, July 25. Every seat was taken. Lots of others stood. I guessed there were six hundred here; the usher’s count was 845. It was one of the hottest days of the year. It was a full, beautiful Requiem Mass. There was great music, wonderfully sung and played by one of the former musicians of the parish, Kyler Brown and his Virgin Consort. Father Wells preached. Bishop Walter Dennis presided at the Commendation. And Father Kirk arranged it all.
I realized during the funeral that one of the things I didn’t say about him was that he was always trying to get people to come to Saint Mary’s. I’m sure he drove many of his friends and acquaintances nuts with his attempts. Well, in the end, he filled Saint Mary’s. In his own way, his own ministry, he dazzled all of us. He knew that Saint Mary’s could carry it off. And he knew, better than I did, this was the right service for this day.
It would not have been possible to have such a service if Saint Mary’s were not a liturgical parish to begin with. Rich liturgical worship isn’t something that can be produced once or twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. It is an ancient and authentic expression of Christian living and believing. It makes a particular kind of proclamation, one which for me has often served to transform my doubts and my failings into something much better.
Father Kirk’s gift to us and to the wider community wasn’t his alone. It was only possible because of all of us who were here, and especially because of the service of those who assist the assembly, the ushers, the altar servers and the parish staff. I think this is some Father understood. I don’t think it entirely inappropriate to acknowledge he was an evangelical impresario for Saint Mary’s. I think he is now one of many saints whose place in the nearer presence of God help to sustain us and our work more than we can ever in this world know.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Marisol, Beatrice, Jack, Henry, Harold, Olga, Carl, Eleanor, John, Peter, Joseph, Elwyn, Shirlah, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Russell, Evelyn, Susan, Esme, Tessie, Richard, Evelyn, Barbara priest, Charles priest, and Arthur, priest.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 30: 1986 Edith Collins; August 1: 1969 Mabel Upson; August 4: 1966 Harold Anderson Worrell.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 18:20-33, Psalm 138, Colossians 2:6-15, Luke 11:1-13 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 28 by Father Smith and on Saturday, August 4 by Father Garrison.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be “Master Tallis’ Testament” by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). The postlude will be Allegro con brio in B-flat major by Frank Bridge (1879-1941). Mr. Joseph Chappel, bass-baritone, a regular member of our choir, will be our soloist. The solo at communion will be “Love bade me welcome” from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). The words are from the poem by George Herbert.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, August 5! . . . Work continues on Saint Joseph’s Hall, the fifth floor apartment in the Parish House where Father Matthew and Janna Weiler will live, and on the Rectory guest room . . . A generous gift has also been received specifically for the refurbishing of the Saint Mary’s Bookstore! . . . A special thanks to those in the parish and those who use our building for their flexibility and understanding during this time . . . The Shins are in England to lease an apartment. Father returns to the parish on Friday evening, August 3 . . . Many thanks to Fr. Jay Smith for filling in while the Rector was sick last week. It was most appreciated! . . . Please mark your calendars: Monday, August 6, is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. It is a “Feast of the Lord.” This year it will be observed with Said Mass at 12:15 PM and Sung Mass at 6:00 PM. This evening service is like the 10:00 AM Sunday Mass . . . Father Shin and Father Weiler are busy planning the fall Christian formation program. The Wednesday Evening Series begins on September 19 . . . Attendance last Sunday: 182.
SUMMARY OF THE ACTIONS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, JULY 16, 2001, MEETING . . . At the July 16, 2001, meeting the Board of Trustees: 1. Learned that the new Curate, Father Matthew Weiler, has begun his duties, as of today. 2. Learned that there will be sexton coverage from 7 AM until 7 PM, with two sextons on duty in the Church during the mid-day hours. Mr. Mervin Garraway, the new Building Superintendent, is in charge of sextons. 3. Learned that we have $50,000 in hand to complete the renovation of St. Joseph’s Hall, which is proceeding. 4. Heard that Bishop Epting will preach and preside at Solemn Mass on the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, August 15, 2001. Father Shin will be the Celebrant on that occasion, and Father Weiler will be Deacon of the Mass. 5. Heard the Rector state that he has a goal of 200 members for St. Mary’s by the end of the year (we currently have only approximately 150 members in good standing).
PICKING HYMNS . . . In the Episcopal Church parish rectors are in charge of the liturgy in the churches where they serve. They are responsible for making the decisions and they get to hear all the complaints, inquiries and concerns. That’s the way the Church is organized. The decisions about worship are governed by the canons (church word for “laws”) of the Church, and the rubrics (church word for “rules”) of The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal.
The Hymnal I used in seminary is marked with notes I made during services. I confess I used to give grades to hymns for tune and text. In retrospect, sometimes my marks were spot on; sometimes they tell me today more about me in seminary than about the hymn. Which is to say, you have a rector who has at least in his own way cared about hymnody in the liturgy for a long time. And since becoming a rector in the Church I have exercised my prerogative to choose the hymns the congregation would sing. Of course, colleagues and others make suggestions, and certainly musicians make it happen, but as far as the selection of hymnody goes, yours truly spends quite a bit of time on it. I have fairly definite ideas about what kinds of hymns work in different places during the Eucharist, big music for the preparation of the gifts, devotion for the hymn after Communion, and something uplifting, evangelical, for the final hymn. Processional hymns always need to be big hymns too.
I try to pick hymns a season at a time. This is pretty simple in Advent, less simple in the Season after Pentecost, also known as “Ordinary Time.” I try very hard for us never to sing the same hymn more than twice in a year. This actually means we have a pretty wide repertory. The reference book I use most now is a scriptural index to The Hymnal. If a hymn relates to a lesson on a given Sunday or feast day and it works in one of the places we need it, then it goes on the list. Then, I simply open my hymnal and start going through the hymns to see where I can put them. The “Find” function on the computer is a great help in catching repeats. I’ve been thinking about hymns this week because I haven’t finished the list through November. Robert McCormick has been looking at the list too, and catching some repeats that I didn’t catch. (Some of them aren’t third repeats but doubles repeated too closely to each other – something that happens because I didn’t finish the list before Ordinary Time began.) Wonderfully and perhaps not surprisingly, I am discovering he shares some of my own prejudices about certain texts and tunes.
This Sunday we will be singing at the Solemn Mass “Only begotten, Word of God eternal,” “Wherefore, O Father, we thy humble servants” and “When Jesus left his Father’s throne. “Only begotten” is the great hymn for a feast of dedication – which to my dismay I have just realized we will have sung on three Sundays or great feasts this year (Candlemas, February 2, this Sunday, July 29, and Dedication, October 7). “Wherefore, O Father” is one of the great eucharistic hymns of our Anglo-catholic heritage. It made it into the present Hymnal largely through the last minute efforts of the Reverend William D. McLean. I like the final hymn because of its tune more than its text. The English folk tune, Kingsfold, was adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and the editors of our last hymnal linked it with this text. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Commemoration of William Wilberforce
Tuesday Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Wednesday Joseph of Arimathaea
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Jean Vianney, priest
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curates, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.