FROM THE RECTOR: ABOUT EVENSONG
Solemn Evensong on February 1, the Eve of the Presentation, was really wonderful. I’ve been thinking about it. I want to share my thoughts about why it was such a special service of worship. First and foremost, it was the fruit of the rich, regular pattern of worship we know at Saint Mary’s. But, stand-alone “Solemn Evensong” without sermon or Eucharistic Benediction is not a service we do very often—just on the eves of our principal feasts when the calendar permits.
There were thirty-nine of us present for the service. James Kennerley played the organ from the chancel console. Three members of our choir were sitting, and singing, in the chancel. Some people were sitting in the nave, but most of the members of the congregation were sitting together in the choir, in pews that face each other.
Let me acknowledge the role the building and its acoustic plays in how we worship. It is a superior place for making music. One senses the presence of the great Christian tradition whenever one enters the church because of its style and its use. The organ itself and our parish musicians are first rate. But most important, I think, for the particular power of that Wednesday evening service was the attention and care of the congregation that was present. The building always wins, the liturgical saying goes, but I want to add, it’s the song of the people of God that makes it soar.
Let me also acknowledge, there were no distracting solo performers in the congregation that night. The four professional singers—and here I include our organist James Kennerley who has a superb tenor voice—were very much a part of the blend. Their blend, as it were, with each other encouraged the rest of us to sing with them as one—and we did. Because we were listening to each other, we sang with an ease that we would not have otherwise had.
The quartet sang Magnificat, Nunc dimittis (Thomas Tallis’s Dorian Service) and an anthem. The psalms were partly accompanied by the organist. The easy chanting of the psalms carried over to the chanting of the creed and the prayers. It was wonderful, profoundly prayerful, and beautiful. The service lasted just under forty-five minutes.
That said, Sunday nights we reach for much the same quality of prayer, even though we don’t have a choir. I greatly appreciate the congregations we have on Sunday nights and the organ recitals we offer beforehand. Sunday night sermons have a broader focus than that of the Sunday morning Eucharist. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament seems to me to be a wonderful way the Anglo-catholic tradition has closed its worship on the Lord’s Day.
With our present pattern, only two more of these “stand-alone” Evensong services will occur this year, one on May 16, the Eve of Ascension Day, and one on October 31, the Eve of All Saints’ Day. Commitments to the structure of our music program have been made through June. There’s plenty of time to think about the fall and the coming year. I invite you to join us for Sunday Evensong as we continue to live into offering our very best to the Lord, to each other, and to those God may be sending to us to help them know him. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Robert, Betty, JoAnn, Gerald, Aston, Amy, Sharon, Helga, Kyle, Kellie, Jim, Odin, Arpene, Chandra, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, Linda, Gert, Rick, and Deborah Francis, religious; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew, Mark, and Rob; and for the repose of the soul of Fred Peelen . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 12: 1894 Sarah J. McEvans; 1898 Anna R. Middlemis; 1911 Frank Brooks Blanchard; 1940 John Metzger; 1993 Winston Davis.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Fred G. Peelen died suddenly and unexpectedly at home late last week. Fred was a member of the parish and a former member of the board of trustees. Funeral plans have not yet been finalized. Please keep Fred, his partner Alex, his brother Gert, his family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Alan Kwang-Tak Wong of West New York, New Jersey, and Audrey S. Lee of New York, New York. 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 third time of asking. S.G.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Sunday, February 12, Father Jay Smith will continue his three-part series in the 10:00 AM Adult Forum entitled What Do Episcopalians Believe?. . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, February 15, at 6:30 PM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The class will not meet on February 22, Ash Wednesday . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, February 11. Father Stephen Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, February 18.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Gerald McKelvey is doing rehabilitation therapy at the Klingenstein Pavilion of Mount Sinai Hospital . . . Bob Picken and Aston Lindsay had surgery this week. Please keep them in your prayers . . . The Candlemas reception was very special. Many thanks to all who served in so many ways. . . Again this year, the Super Bowl Party was a great success. Thank you to all who made it possible . . . Mary Julia Jett was ordained deacon here at Saint Mary’s on Monday, February 6. Thank you to all who helped make the evening so wonderful for her and for all of our guests . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the collection basket in the back of the church on Sunday mornings . . . Confirmation and the other rites of Christian initiation will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil. For more information, please speak with one of the parish clergy . . . Attendance: Candlemas 270, Last Sunday 231, Ordination 158.
A WOMEN'S GROUP AT SAINT MARY'S . . . You are invited to join the women of Saint Mary's to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Women of all ages who value fellowship, we have formed a group so we can get to know one another outside of church and enjoy some social time together with food and drink at a parishioner's home from time to time. Our first meeting was in October, and our second will be on Tuesday, February 21 from 6:00 to 8:30 PM, near Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side. We hope you can make it! Please contact the church office (212-869-5830) or email Mary Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP, and we will send you details and directions.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The chorale prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, Opus 65/1, by Sigfrid Karg–Elert (1877–1933). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Communion Service in F by Harold Darke (1888–1976). An English composer and organist, Darke was organist of Saint Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London, for fifty years. He was acting organist of King’s College, Cambridge, during the Second World War, substituting for Boris Ord. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Like as the hart, a hauntingly beautiful setting of words from Psalm 42 by Herbert Howells (1892–1983) . . . The organ recital on Sunday will be played by Nicholas Bideler, Kansas City, Missouri. The recital precedes Evensong and Benediction and begins at 4:40 PM. James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, March 3, 8:00 PM, The Dessoff Choirs: Midwinter Festival: Refracted Bach. . . Saturday, March 17, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre Early Music Series, Tenebrae, with Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre, conductor . . . Saturday, March 31, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director. Music by Mozart and Shostakovich. Admission is free.
ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IN FEBRUARY . . . In the Adult Forum on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM, Father Smith will be working with a new book, What Episcopalians Believe: An Introduction (Morehouse Publishing, 2011), written by the Reverend Canon Samuel Wells, dean of the Duke University Chapel and Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Copies of the book can be purchased at Amazon.com. This may be a good class for those who would like to be confirmed or received . . . Father Smith is also leading the Wednesday Night Bible Study in reading the Letter to the Hebrews. The next three sessions of the class will take place on February 15, 29, and March 7 from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the Arch Room of the Mission House.
SUNDAY ADULT FORUM IN LENT . . . On Sundays during Lent, Father Peter Powell returns to Saint Mary’s to lead a five-part series on Genesis 1-11, the first part of the Bible’s first book. The class will be asking such questions as “what does the Bible really say about Creation and the Flood?” and “how can thinking Christians claim these stories as their own?”
WORSHIP DURING LENT . . . Ash Wednesday is February 22. Masses will be said at 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM. There is a Sung Mass at 12:00 PM. The Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for Solemn Pontifical Mass at 6:00 PM. Ashes will be distributed in the church from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM. On Fridays during Lent, Stations will be offered at 6:30 PM.
LENTEN QUIET DAY . . . Led by Father John Beddingfield, Saturday, March 3, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM, The Fear of God: Our Troubles Transformed—Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), but what does it mean to “fear” God? How does our relationship with God affect other parts of our life in which fear plays a part? Are faith and fear connected, or are they opposed to each other? Using scripture, tradition, story, and silence, this year’s Lenten Quiet Day will allow us to reflect on these questions together. Father Beddingfield will offer three meditations. There will be opportunities for quiet, prayer, and silent meditation. Those attending are invited to celebrate the Eucharist together at noonday. Coffee and tea will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 9:30 AM and a simple lunch will be provided following Mass. Please send an e-mail to Father Jay Smith if you think you would like to attend so he can make plans for lunch.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, February 20, Washington’s Birthday, Federal Holiday Schedule, the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, only the noonday services are offered and the parish offices are closed . . . Monday, March 26, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend R. William Franklin, bishop of Western New York, celebrant and preacher.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . December 7, 2011–May 14, 2012, Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, Third to Seventh Century AD, at the Onassis Cultural Center, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, entrances on 51st and 52nd Streets, between Madison and Fifth Avenues . . . February 3–May 20, 2012–Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière, at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street. This exhibition presents the liturgical work of Hildreth Meière (1892-1961), who was one of the best known and most prolific Art Deco muralists of the twentieth century. Recognized during her lifetime for both her liturgical and secular work, Meière completed over 100 commissions from 1922 to 1961. Though Meière is little known today, her commissions are very well recognized and include several New York City attractions like the Red Banking Room at One Wall Street, the lobby of the Walker Lispenard Building, the 50th Street façade of Radio City Music Hall, and religious art and decoration at the Church of Saint Bartholomew and Temple Emanu-El.