FROM THE RECTOR: LOOKING AHEAD TO LENT
For some years now I have been thinking about how we might once again make use of what the present Prayer Book calls “The Great Litany.” Its principal governing rubric states it is, “To be said or sung, kneeling, or standing, or in procession; before the Eucharist or after the Collects of Morning or Evening Prayer; or separately, especially in Lent and on Rogation Days” (The Book of Common Prayer  148).
Up until the present book this prayer of intercession was known simply as “The Litany.” Its use was widespread before the adoption of the 1979 book. In the Mercy Chapel we have the litany desk from our first parish church—a furnishing common to Episcopal parishes built before the latter part of the twentieth century. Those who have joined the Episcopal Church here or in many other parishes may never have prayed it as part of a regular Sunday or weekday service in Lent or any other time. It’s worth knowing and using; the problem is finding the right place for it in our worship today.
In 1789, when the newly established Protestant Episcopal Church adopted its first Prayer Book, the normative Sunday morning service for Episcopalians was Morning Prayer, Litany and “Ante-Communion”—the service of Holy Communion through the sermon. (Holy Communion was generally celebrated quarterly before the Anglo-Catholic movement began to reshape the patterns of worship in the Episcopal Church.) As you might imagine, Sunday mornings with this pattern of regular worship demanded far more than an hour or so of everyone’s time.
The Arrow, Saint Mary’s first newsletter, was published monthly from 1891 through the first months of 1899. It gives a lot of information about the worship of that decade. During Lent in 1891, “Litany & Address” was offered weekly on Wednesday nights at 7:30 PM. Beginning in 1897, the litany was also sung in procession before the “10:45 AM High Mass.” This usage, however, was part and parcel of a pattern of worship that was altered radically on May 2, 1965 when communion began to be offered to the congregation at the 11:00 AM Mass. More changes were to come, the greatest of which was the adoption of the 1979 Prayer Book with all of its theological and lectionary enrichments.
When I first came to Saint Mary’s the litany was sung in traditional English during Lent at the beginning of Solemn Mass. If memory serves, the servers and clergy would enter during the appointed entrance chant. Standing before the high altar, the litany would begin. Then the servers and clergy would process around the church as the celebrant chanted the litany, the congregation standing in place. This year on the five Sundays in Lent, in place of a sermon during Sunday Evensong, we will sing the litany following the collects and before Eucharistic Benediction—experimental liturgy at Saint Mary the Virgin.
The litany is the oldest part of the liturgy in English—and even Queen Mary (1553-1558) continued this use in English during her short reign when England returned to the fold of the Roman Church (Massey Shepherd, The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary  540). At Nashotah House we had it in traditional and contemporary versions—totally permitted by the rubrics of the 1979 book. That said, I think the 1979 litany in traditional English will not be out of place at Sunday Evensong.
If you’ve never looked at The Arrow, I invite you to do so. It was started during Father Thomas McKee Brown’s last years as rector. His successor, Dr. George Martin Christian, put an end to it shortly after becoming rector. (I suspect he did this because of its tone, a tone that didn’t reflect the generous, pastoral character of the parish’s first rector and the parish community as a whole.) The newsletter is, however, a useful record of parish worship at that time. One thing I learned while working on this article was that the first complete celebration of the Easter Vigil occurred in April 1898, eight months before Father Brown’s death. Something new was always happening, it seems, at Saint Mary’s back then; I think new good things are continuing to happen today. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Gloria, Dick, Richmond, Gypsy, Rick, Jack, Michael, Heather, Eugene, Susan, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Eloise, Arpene, Margaretta, religious, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth; and for the repose of the soul of Errol Perez . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 16: 1896 John Jay Elmendorf; 1923 Dorothy Ellen Glanville Webb; 1925 Clara Lund Oldenborg; 1938 Alan Ramsey Hawley; 1939 Bertha Albrecht; 1940 Patrick Miller Boggs; 1943 Morton L. Fouquet; 1947 Delores Diana Opallo; 1950 Emma Johanna Piehl; 1969 Frederick M. Rouland.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, February 16; Church School for the older children will also meet on Sunday in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, February 16, at 10:00 AM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The class will be led by Professor Bruce Mullin . . . Sunday, February 16, 5:00 PM, Evensong & Benediction, Guest Choir from Christ Church, Riverdale . . . Monday, February 17, Washington’s Birthday (also known as “Presidents’ Day”), Federal Holiday schedule: the church will open at 10:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM. The parish offices are closed. Only the noonday services are offered . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 19 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 15, by Father Stephen Gerth, and on Saturday, February 22, by Father Jim Pace.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays: February 23, March 2 (Last Epiphany), and March 30 (The Fourth Sunday in Lent). We also hope to receive donations to defray the costs of the reception on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish Friday, February 21, through Saturday, March 1. He will be in church on Sunday, March 2 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 209.
BISHOP SUFFRAGAN-ELECT ALLEN SHIN . . . In the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops “exercising jurisdiction” and a majority of diocesan Standing Committees must give their consent before the consecration of a bishop-elect may take place. On Thursday, February 13, 2014, the office of the Presiding Bishop announced that “Bishop Suffragan-Elect the Reverend Allen K. Shin, has received the canonically-required majorities of consents from bishops with jurisdiction and from standing committees of the dioceses of the Church.” Father Shin’s consecration may now proceed and is scheduled for Saturday, May 17, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Please keep Allen and his wife, Clara, in your prayers. “Bishop” Shin will be with us as celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 29, at 6:00 PM.
CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to Father Jay Smith. Confirmation & Reception will be celebrated at the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 29, at 6:00 PM by our newly ordained bishop suffragan.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . John Nicholson Ireland (1879–1962) was an English composer and educator born into a family of literary prominence. He entered the Royal College of Music in London at the age of fourteen to study piano and organ, and was, in time, to head the composition faculty there. He studied with the famed Charles Villiers Stanford and then had among his students such notables as Benjamin Britten. He served the Saint Luke’s Church, Chelsea, from 1904 to 1926, and wrote a good deal of music there. Though he had composed since boyhood, Ireland was fiercely self-critical, and destroyed all his early works. Though suffering some neglect in his later life, he was one of the most widely performed of British composers, with smaller-scale works drawing the greater attention. His church music quickly entered the repertoire and was sung throughout the Anglican world. His Communion Service in C, which we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, was written during his time at Saint Luke’s. At the ministration of Communion, we hear a motet by George Oldroyd (1887–1956) another English organist and composer and a contemporary of John Ireland. He was organist of Saint Alban’s Church, Holborn, from 1919 to 1920, and then of Saint Michael’s Church, Croydon, from 1920 until his death in 1956. Both are churches firmly rooted within the Anglo-Catholic tradition, and it was for this aesthetic that Oldroyd wrote. Prayer to Jesus, a particularly beloved motet of Oldroyd’s, is a setting of a prayer by Richard Rolle, a fourteenth-century poet . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM, I will play the organ recital. My program, “An Album of English Miniatures,” includes short pieces by six English composers, including John Ireland and Harold Darke (1888–1976). Evensong will be sung by the Parish Choir of Christ Church, Riverdale, directed by Timothy Brumfield, music director. Timothy is a good friend of Saint Mary’s, having played here on a number of occasions. Mark Peterson
PLEASE WELCOME OUR GUEST CHOIRS . . . A number of choirs from parishes in the metropolitan area—and from England—will be joining us on Sunday evenings in the next few months for Evensong and Benediction. On Sunday, February 16, the parish choir of Christ Church, Riverdale, will be with us; on Sunday, February 23, the parish choir of Saint Luke’s, Darien, Connecticut, will sing the service; on Sunday, March 2, the Choristers of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, New York City will join us at Evensong; and on Sunday, March 30, the Choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, will sing the service. Except during Lent, Evensong is preceded by an organ recital at 4:40 PM. The service itself begins at 5:00 PM. Refreshments are served in Saint Joseph’s Hall following Evensong from 6:00-6:30 PM. We invite you to join us.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, February 16: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will take place in the Atrium; Church School for the older children will meet with Peter Secor at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet on the second floor of the Mission House. Prof. Bruce Mullin will lead the class (see below for more detail) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, February 19. The class will begin reading at Acts 17:16, Paul is in Athens and gives his speech “in the middle of the Areopagus.” The class will not meet on February 26 or on March 5. Jay Smith
STUDYING CHURCH HISTORY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . This coming Sunday, Professor Bruce Mullin will begin a three-part series on the history of Anglicanism and the birth of the Episcopal Church: February 16, “The Development of the Elizabethan Compromise”; February 23, “The Challenge to the Elizabethan Compromise”; March 2, “The Rise of the Episcopal Church in America”. Prof. Mullin teaches church history at the General Theological Seminary. Dr. Mullin has advised the Episcopal Church on a variety of historical and canonical matters and he is known to be an excellent lecturer. We hope that you will join us. No prior study or experience is necessary. All are welcome.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . March 5, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Monday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, March 25, The Annunciation, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.
AIDS WALK 2014 . . . Last year, the Saint Mary’s team did very well in its fundraising efforts. This year we hope to do even better! This year’s Walk will take place on Sunday, May 18. We are hoping to be able to add more members to our team this year. It is already possible to register and begin fundraising. Simply go to the GMHC/AIDS Walk website. Ask to join an already existing team and select the Saint Mary’s team. Teams are listed in alphabetical order. We are listed as “Saint Mary the Virgin – 0445”. If you have questions, please speak to MaryJane Boland or Clark Mitchell.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Holy Cross School and its Scholarship Fund at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, Grahamstown, South Africa, a house of the Anglican Order of the Holy Cross. Donations may be made c/o Brother Robert Sevensky, OHC, Superior, Holy Cross Monastery, PO Box 99, West Park, NY 12493. When making a donation, it would be useful if you could let the brothers know that you heard about the school through Saint Mary’s . . . The New York City Coalition Against Hunger is in the midst of its Annual Appeal for donations. Please visit the Coalition’s website for more information or to make a donation . . . We are gratefully accepting donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks. We send some items of clothing to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Other items are kept here for distribution to those in need. We also continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Food Pantry. J.R.S.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Christoph Keller, Jr., Library of General Theological Seminary, 440 West 21st Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), February 6-27, 2014: Religious Iconography of the 19th and 20th Centuries. The exhibition consists of twenty-two icons and a number of smaller pieces selected from a private collection previously owned by Father J. Robert Wright, who taught church history at the seminary for many years. The religious icons and articles come from Russian, Greek, Serbian, Palestinian, and Ethiopian traditions, and the exhibition celebrates faith and tradition, artfully expressed in the painting, textile and silver-work of the Orthodox churches . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, “Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography (through February 14) is a video and audio installation which will transport the viewer and listener into America’s early twentieth-century, to the banks of rivers, lakes, and ponds where congregations gathered and sang as candidates holding hands in waist-deep water were submerged by a minister for baptism. The excitement and serenity of immersion baptism is seen in the projected images that date from 1890-1950. Recordings of artists like Washington Phillips, Carter Family, Tennessee Mountaineers, and lesser-known groups like the Belmont Silvertone Jubilee Singers, a vocal quartet in 1939, are featured. Rare vocal recordings of sermons and preaching, which highlight the fervor leading up to the moment of baptism, are also included.