FROM THE RECTOR: EPIPHANY 2014
Epiphany is Monday, January 6, this year. If you are new to the Episcopal Church or Saint Mary’s, you will want to know it’s one of the great days of the year, a “principal feast.” Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson write that the earliest mention of the feast is from Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 210) [The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011) 137). In the Christian West it comes to be associated with Matthew’s account of the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). But Jesus’ birth, baptism, and first miracle at Cana also have ancient associations with the celebration. It’s a day when many friends of this parish join us.
This year the Reverend John F. Baldovin, SJ, professor of historical and liturgical theology, at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, will preach at the Solemn Mass on Monday at 600 PM. I can’t remember when I first came across Father Baldovin’s work—I suspect his was a name I heard in seminary. I do remember reading a short study of his right after it came out, Liturgy in Ancient Jerusalem (1989). He has taught at Notre Dame and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, as well as at other academic institutions. He is a visiting professor at Fordham University during the current academic year. Father Baldovin was also a recipient in 2007 of the Berakah Award of the North American Academy of Liturgy. It will be a real honor to have him with us.
For Episcopalians, the Feast of the Epiphany marks the end of the twelve days of the Christmas Season. There can be nine Sundays after the Epiphany before Lent begins; this year there will be eight. Ash Wednesday this year is March 5, Easter Day April 20. One of the special joys of the Solemn Mass on Epiphany is the tradition of announcing the dates of the major celebrations to come in this New Year. It’s not long, but it’s sung to the same tone used for the Exsultet, the paschal proclamation at the beginning of the Easter Vigil. It’s really good.
Sunday morning, January 5, will be observed as the Second Sunday after Christmas Day. The gospel is the story in Matthew of the flight of the holy family to Egypt—with Christmas hymns at the Solemn Mass. Sunday evening, the Eve of the Epiphany is observed at Solemn Evensong. On Monday night at Solemn Mass we will sing “Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,” the well-known Epiphany text which was put to the tune Star in the East from The Southern Harmony (1835) in Hymnal Supplement II (1976). It’s one of our very best uses of a classic early American tune.
As the Christmas Season comes to an end I would like to thank all who have been present in body, in spirit, or in prayer for the wonderful celebrations of the Lord’s birth. I would like to thank all who made special gifts and efforts that make these celebrations possible. We can’t begin to count the number of people who have come through the church daily this December—it’s been a big year for tourism in New York City. Every day this parish church, through its presence, worship and above all its open doors, speaks to God’s presence among us. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany to you. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jack, Dick, Jonathan, Margaret, Michelle, William, Sharon, Rick, Rob, Pierre, Takeem, Linda, Babak, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, Clair, priest, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 5: 1914 John Jacoby Markland; 1942 Philip John Smith, Jr.; 1984 Otto Adolph; 1993 Hugh Adams.
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, January 5. Church School for the older children and the Adult Forum will not meet on January 5. . . . Monday, January 6, The Epiphany: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 11, by Father Gerth . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on January 8 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Looking for volunteers: The Flower Guild: “Un-decorating” is never quite as glamorous as “decorating” the church for Christmas. However, it’s a task that can be time-consuming. “Many hands make light work.” If you would like to give the members of the Flower Guild some help in the coming week dismantling and disposing of decorations, please contact Marie Rosseels. You’ll be glad you did; and you may even have some fun along the way . . . The Gift Shop expects delivery of 2014 Episcopal Church calendars before Sunday, January 12 . . . We are pleased to be able to announce that the Reverend Mary Julia Jett is now an assisting priest at the Church of the Transfiguration, New York City. Congratulations, Mother Jett! . . . Super Bowl Party: Are you a friendly sort? Do you have decent organizational skills? Are you comfortable around a kitchen, with food, and a bottle or two of beer? Then perhaps you might be interested in helping to organize and run this year’s Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 2, 6:00-10:00 PM. Please contact Father Jay Smith if you’d like to help. A knowledge of or football is not required! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 285; Holy Name 55.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Second Sunday after Christmas Day: Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) is largely regarded as the greatest composer of the Spanish Renaissance, and a great component of the Roman School of composition. A priest, Victoria wrote no secular works, but covered every sacred genre several times over. Of his twenty masses, fifteen are parody masses (works which draw thematic material from a motet or other existing work) as is the Mass we hear this Sunday, four are paraphrase masses and only one is thought to be freely composed. Victoria continued to write and publish works until 1605 when, only six years before his death, he composed his monumental Officium Defunctorum, or Requiem Mass. This Mass has been called “one of the most magnificent choral works of the entire literature.” The English motet that we hear at the ministration of Holy Communion is by Thomas Attwood (1765–1838), a composer who shares his name with the Father of English Economics. A one-time student of Mozart, Attwood became organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1796, and was widely favored at court. His motet, O God, who by the leading of a star, is one of a great catalogue of works for the Anglican Church, now long out of print and nearly forgotten . . . The Epiphany: Edmund Rubbra (1901–1986), was born to poor, working-class parents in Northampton, England. His mother sang in the choir at the local Congregational church and encouraged his musical development, beginning with the piano. Showing great talent, Rubbra received a scholarship in composition in 1920 to Reading University, where he studied with Gustav Holst. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music and in time became a lecturer at Oxford University. Rubbra embraced traditional forms and structures, but consistently worked toward a unique voice and a sophisticated concept of tonality and harmony. The tonality is clear but never rigid, and when combined with his innate sense of melody and love of counterpoint, one is confronted with something quite unusual. Rubbra held firm religious beliefs all his life, and his spirituality was the starting point for much of his work. Many of his compositions were initially for the Anglican rite, most notably his Evensong canticles, written during his time at Oxford; however, it was his reception into the Roman Catholic Church in 1948 that provided new impetus for his work. The Mass setting we hear on Monday, the Missa in honorem Sancti Dominici, Opus 66, was written in response to his conversion, and is the first of his Latin settings. The Mass seems tailor-made for the liturgy, concise but spacious, with each section clearly characterized by the text. Rubbra often said he had “red blood” flowing through his veins, but was quick to explain that he meant not only the red blood of a proud heritage and staunch patriotism, but also that contained in the sacrifice of the Mass. At the ministration of Holy Communion on the feast of the Epiphany we will hear one of the great standards for this Feast day, Videntes stellam Magi, by Orlando de Lassus (1532–1594), the great Renaissance composer from the Netherlands. Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, January 5: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 9:45 AM, The Atrium; Church School for Older Children will not meet; The Adult Forum will not meet on January 5. The Forum will resume on Sunday, January 12. Father Jay Smith will lead the class in a discussion of Byzantine iconoclasm, as a way of approaching and trying to understand the veneration of images in both East and West (and here at Saint Mary’s!) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 8.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, January 18, Confession of Saint Peter, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Saturday, January 25, Conversion of Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, February 2, Candlemas, Procession and Solemn Pontifical Mass 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, February 2, 6:00 PM-10:00 PM, Super Bowl Party, Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Monday, February 3, Saint Blase, Mass & Blessing of Throats 12:10 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . New York Cares Coat Drive: We are collecting coats for the annual drive here at Saint Mary’s until the end of January. For some reason, donations of coats here in the city are down 35% this year. Large men’s coats and children’s coats are always in high demand. Coats may also be delivered directly to sites around the city. Visit the New York Cares website for more information . . . 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.