This year on Maundy Thursday I did not go into the Mercy Chapel before the Transfer of the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose. It was a phenomenal experience to walk into that sacred space in the midst of the candles of the altar servers, choir and assisting clergy while bearing the Blessed Sacrament for the communion of the Church on Good Friday. I was as close to speechless as a celebrant can or should be. People who do not know the liturgy of Saint Mary’s, do not know the love of the community for the Lord, do not know the level of commitment to offering the very best for the worship of the assembly and cannot truly imagine the extent to which this assembly glimpses the glory and majesty of God’s love for us in his Son. “Phenomenal” is the word which came to my mind when I saw the preparation of the Altar of Repose. It is as good a word as any to summarize my impressions of the Easter Triduum.
A stranger washed my feet on Maundy Thursday. But that stranger in that moment truly was my brother and I’m sure were he to be here regularly he would be my friend. Both liturgies on Good Friday were very special, but there was something very prayerful about the evening service. I was bone-tired Good Friday, as were the rest of the ministers of the assembly, but two complete Good Friday services are what is needed to meet the pastoral needs of our community.
During the reading of the prophecies at the Easter Vigil, the gentle light – just enough so the assembly could sing the psalms which follow each lesson, streamed down from the heights of the ceiling with an unearthly beauty. The Easter event was getting ready to unfold and the Lord Jesus did die and rise again in the persons of those he was calling to faith in the font. On Easter Day there was a congregation of twenty for Sung Matins and people kept coming all day. The organ really did burst out in song at the Vigil and on Easter Day in a way that all of us appreciated so much after the musical discipline and restraint of Lent.
I know many share my joy in having Father Allen Shin home with us for Holy Week. What a blessing and honor for us to have had Bishop Epting with us to celebrate and preach at the Vigil and Bishop Grein to preside at the Solemn Mass of Easter Day! I want publicly to thank our curate, Matthew Weiler, and our assistant, Jay Smith, for their work and support during their first Holy Week at Saint Mary’s. Father Weiler and Father Smith did everything I asked of them and more. I spoke on Easter Day at the end of the 11:00 AM Mass about the glory of the music played and conducted by Robert McCormick, our organist and music director. I also want to say how much I appreciate the work of our assistant organist, Robert McDermitt, who played the recital on Easter Day. He assists Robert McCormick and the parish staff in so many ways. I cannot say enough about my assistant, John Beddingfield, whose ministry to the parish includes providing the very detailed and user-friendly service leaflets for all of the many liturgies. The advertisements in The New York Times were designed by Chuck Carson. Our webmaster, Noel Hennelly, kept our website up to date all week. The parish staff came through all week for the community
The flowers were, I repeat, phenomenal. When the lights came up at the Easter Vigil one could feel the assembly’s tremendous delight. At the Easter Vigil and at the Solemn Mass on Easter Day the full use of the Hyland vestments added great richness to our worship. The stunning simplicity of the Easter receptions was a gift of elegant hospitality that involved no small amount of work. I cannot begin to say enough about the hearts of those who served the assembly as acolytes. They met all of the challenges of the week with kind and joyful hearts.
As always at Saint Mary’s, it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we are here. His love for us brings us together in this most rare and precious of parish communities. I believe our parish community is very much like a mustard seed, like the kingdom of God. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Fred who is hospitalized and for Jerri, Myra, Mary, Sarah, Doreen, Mabel, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Maureen, Marie, Rick, Edgar, John, Joanne, Barbara, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned, David and John and for the repose of the soul of Jeffrey, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 8: 1964 Grieg Taber, priest and rector; 1996 Donald L. Garfield, priest and rector; April 10: 1993 Edna Matthews Craig.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between George Varino III of New York City and Amy Ted Lesch 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 second time of asking. S.G.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . On Sunday, April 7, at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, BWV 630, by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). The postlude will be Prelude on ‘O Filii et Filiae’ by Healey Willan (1880-1968), played by Robert McDermitt. The British-born Willan lived in Canada for most of his life and is widely regarded as one of the most important composers of liturgical music in the twentieth century. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘L’hora passa’ by Ludovico Viadana (c. 1560-1627) and the motet at Communion is Alleluia by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545). On Monday, April 8, the organ recital at 5:30 PM will be played by music director Robert McCormick, and will include works by Bach, Howells, and Gerald Near. At the Mass, the choir will sing Missa brevis by Jackson Hill (b. 1941). Hill is currently chair of the Music Department at Bucknell University and a prolific composer. The motets at Communion are by Rachmaninoff and Victoria. The postlude following Mass will be Carillon-Sortie by Henri Mulet (1878-1967), which is a grand toccata in the French romantic style.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Dr. Bill Franklin has returned to Saint Mary’s after completing his work as dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Bill will be preacher for Solemn Evensong this Sunday, April 7. Dr. Franklin, welcome home! . . . As we go to press a new member of our parish community Fred Ruth is at Lenox Hill Hospital for treatment. Please keep him in your prayers . . . The Women’s Spirituality Group meets on Tuesday, April 9, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Father Smith’s new series on Baptism in the New Testament begins Wednesday, April 10, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance during Holy Week: Monday 76, Tuesday 73, Wednesday 70, Tenebrae 147, Maundy Thursday 199, Good Friday 360, Easter 880.
WELCOME, FATHER WEIL! . . . The Reverend Louis Weil is the senior liturgical scholar of the Episcopal Church. He is presently the John F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He was professor of liturgy and church music at Nashotah House from 1971 to 1988 where I had the privilege of being his student for at least one course every term I was there. He taught me to say Mass and a great deal about being a priest. Father was reared in New Orleans, did his undergraduate work at Southern Methodist University and his first graduate degree at Harvard in music. He prepared for ordination at the General Theological Seminary and received his S.T.D. from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He was the co-author of the volume of the “Church’s Teaching Series” that introduced the present Prayer Book, Liturgy for Living. His contribution to “The New Church’s Teaching Series” was published last December, A Theology of Worship. On Sunday he will be with us for the Solemn Mass as a member of the assembly. On Monday evening, April 8, he will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass for the Annunciation. It is a great honor to welcome him to Saint Mary’s. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Second Sunday of Easter
Monday The Annunciation of Our Lord
Tuesday Easter Weekday
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.