The Angelus

Volume 4, Number 4

Now in Flesh Appearing

Christmas at Saint Mary’s opens the doors of our lives so that we can see God’s eternal presence in our midst, in his Son, in ourselves, in the Word proclaimed and, most of all, in the assembly of his faithful people.  One of the things that is so very true of this parish is that it is our religious conviction above all else which draws us together.  Each of us surely has sweet memories of Christmases past with family and friends.  Yet here we come together because of our Christian belief.  We really do believe the words of the Creeds.  We worship the Lord Jesus.  We adore him.  We literally do bow our knees in the presence of the Most High.  The words of our hymns and carols are more than familiar friends; they are our confession.  This is our faith.  Saint Mary’s is a place where we believe that the Second Person of the Triune God was born of a pure Virgin.  I dare say there will not be any member of the parish who will be able to get through the Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without tears, tears of faith and joy, the kind of tears a parent sheds in the first private moment when he or she is all alone with a new born child.  These are tears of truth, faith and humility before the mystery of God and man.  “O come, let us adore him.”  Stephen Gerth

PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Alex, Marion, Harold, Olga, Eleanor, John, Peter, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Tessie, Jennifer, John, Christina, Julia, Maureen, Marie, Jake, Rick, Edgar, Angela, Jennifer, Rose Mary, Arthur, priest, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned and David . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 24: 1962 Charles Moran; December 25, 1986 Norman Albert Rollings; December 28: 1953 Martha Cockrill Lewis; December 29: 1957 Mary Isobel Sonnenberg.


LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 7:10-17, Psalm 24:1-7, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, December 22, by Father Gerth.  The parish clergy do not sit on Saturdays for confessions, except by appointment, during the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Priests are generally able to hear brief confessions without appointments immediately following most weekday Masses . . . The faithful are reminded that at the Christmas Masses (and on the Masses of the Feast of the Annunciation) the custom of kneeling at the words, by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man, during the Nicene Creed is retained.


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday will be Prelude on ‘Christe redemptor omnium’ by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) and the postlude will be Präludium und fuge in c-moll, BWV 549, by J. S. Bach (1685-1750).  The Mass setting is Missa ‘Dixit Maria’ by Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612) and the motet at Communion is Ecce concipies by Jacob Handl (1550-1591).  On Christmas Eve, music for congregation and choir begins at 10:30 PM and includes Christmas hymns and choral music of Praetorius, Walter, Victoria, Holst, and Vaughan Williams.  At the Solemn Mass, the Mass setting is Missa ‘O magnum mysterium’ by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) and the anthem at Communion is What sweeter music by John Rutter (b. 1945).  The postlude is Prelude and Fugue in B major by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971).  The Mass setting for the Solemn Mass on Christmas Day will be Missa brevis by Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586) and the motet at communion will be The truth from above by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).  The postlude will be In dulci jubilo, BWV 729, by J. S. Bach (1685-1750).


BOARD TRANSITION . . . Several parishioners have wondered out loud what occasioned Jim Dennis’s resignation from the Board of Trustees, reported briefly in the last Angelus.  In fact, his resignation and that of this writer, Linda Bridges (not reported in the Angelus because, tied up with getting Ave to the printer, I had not produced my letter in time for the December board meeting), were occasioned by the current understanding of the terms under which trustees serve.  According to the by-laws of the Society of the Free Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, trustees may serve for life, so long as they regularly attend board meetings.  Those by-laws were adopted at a time when a very few prosperous members of the parish essentially supported the parish financially, and it seemed fitting that they would also control its affairs.  Times have changed, and Father Wells, during his tenure as Rector, came to believe that the parish would be better served by having trustees rotate off the board after a few years, giving others a chance to serve and also creating a wider pool of people within the parish who had direct knowledge of the sorts of challenges the board faces.  Therefore, as vacancies occurred, Father Wells started asking new trustees to agree to step down after four or five years.  And so, as Gerald McKelvey stepped down a year ago, Jim and I have done so now.  When the subject has come up in discussions with our current Rector, he has asked that board members serve according to the terms under which they became trustees.  Although the board has taken no formal action on Father Gerth’s request, I think I speak for my former board colleagues when I say that the board as a whole shares this view.  Linda Bridges


OUR NEW ASSISTANT . . . I am delighted to announce that the Reverend James Ross Smith is going to serve as assistant at Saint Mary’s.  Many of you already know him and have great affection for him as he had served as an assisting priest the year before I became rector and returned to us last July.  Father Smith is a priest of the Diocese of New York.  He was born and raised in Western New York, where he attended parochial schools and Buffalo’s Jesuit high school.  He studied theater at Cornell University.  After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree, he moved to New York City, where he worked as a stage manager and as the editor of Lincoln Center’s program magazine.  Shortly thereafter, he was received into the Episcopal Church and began his studies at Union Theological Seminary.  He moved to New Haven in 1987 to do a year of Anglican Studies in preparation for ordination.  He was ordained deacon (June 1989) and priest (December 1989) at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.  He worked as an assisting priest at Christ Church, New Haven, from 1989 to 1996.  During that time he began his doctoral studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale’s Graduate School.  His field of study is patristics and he is writing a dissertation on the festal letters of St. Cyril of Alexandria.  He was an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow (1989-92).  By happy circumstance this coming Sunday, December 23, Father is scheduled to be celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.  I believe it will be his first Solemn Mass at Saint Mary’s as celebrant.  I hope many of you will be able to be here to join in welcoming him to this new ministry.  S.G.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . We are thankful: Congratulations to Peter and Jocelyn Dannenbaum on the birth of their daughter, Caroline Ruth, on Monday, December 17 . . . The parish office is closed on Christmas Day.  The church is open on Christmas Day only for the Solemn Mass . . . We’ve just learned the Reverend Richard T. Lawson, who served as seminarian at Saint Mary’s during the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 academic years, was ordained priest on Tuesday, December 4, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, Alabama.  Father serves as curate at Saint John’s Church, Decatur, Alabama . . . A lovely Christmas devotion is to attend Mass on the three days following Christmas.  These days are known as “Comites Christi” (Companions of Christ).  They are Saint Stephen’s Day (December 26), Saint John’s Day (December 27) and the Holy Innocents (December 28) . . . Attendance Last Sunday 227.


CHRISTMAS DECORATION VOLUNTEERS . . . Following the Solemn Mass on Sunday, December 23, there will be a Christmas tree in Saint Joseph's Hall.  All are invited to help trim the tree during coffee hour.  Sunday afternoon Howard will begin to assemble the "basic" decoration in the Nave, Sanctuary, etc. for the Christmas Eve Mass (i.e. garland, wreaths, vase cleaning etc.).  For those interested in helping, speak to Howard.  Due to this activity the 5:00 Mass on Sunday will be held in the Lady Chapel.  The final decoration, high altar, "cut" flowers etc. will be done Monday, Christmas Eve, between 1:00 and 5:00 PM.


The Calendar of the Week

Sunday               The Fourth Sunday of Advent

               Monday                    The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord

Tuesday             The Nativity of Our Lord

Wednesday              Saint Stephen, Deacon & Martyr

Thursday                  Saint John, Apostle & Evangelist

Friday                        The Holy Innocents                                      No Abstinence

Saturday                      Thomas Becket, Bishop & Martyr


Christmas at Saint Mary’s


Christmas Eve

Christmas Music 10:30 pm

Procession & Solemn Mass 11:00 pm

Music: Victoria, Rutter

The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein

XIV Bishop of New York, Retired

Presiding & Preaching


Christmas Day

Solemn Mass & Procession 11:00 am

Music: Gabrieli, Vaughan Williams

Sermon by the Rector


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.