FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT SPEAKS
As I write on Thursday morning, December 6, I am an uncle again—my brother Ralph and his wife Ulrika’s third child was born yesterday. Sydney Lucia Gerth and her mother are fine. Ralph and Ulrika have been preparing for the birth of their daughter, of course. All went well during the last nine months. But families don’t celebrate the births of children early. Not a lot is easy about childbirth, even with modern medicine—and nothing is certain. Now, the celebrations can start. The baby has been born. I’ve been happy and thankful for months; now I can be happy and thankful in a new way.
The traditions of the church and Saint Mary’s common life reflect this same rhythm as it approaches the annual celebration of Christ’s birth. In Advent we get ready for what we hope will come to us. We look forward from the beginning to the end. We live with faith in the future. We know life will be different after the birth.
I’ve yet to meet a non-anxious new parent, even one who already has children. It might be said the church reflects this anxiety in its own way. On the First Sunday of Advent the gospels are about the end of time, on the Second and Third about John the Baptist’s call to repentance. This year on the last Sunday of Advent we hear the story of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth when both are great with child—where Mary and Elizabeth are deeply joyful as they respond to the wonder of God’s gifts of love and life.
As far as I know, no one has written a biography of Charles Winfred Douglas (1867-1944). He was a priest of the church and, among many other things, the musical editor of The Hymnal 1916 and The Hymnal 1940. The Episcopal Church sings plainsong hymns largely because of editorial decisions that favored congregational “singability”—and Douglas was really good at making such singability possible.
I can’t imagine Advent without “Creator of the stars of night,” the great hymn for Evening Prayer during Advent. This Sunday, the postcommunion hymn at Solemn Mass will be “Redeemer of the nations, come,” a translation of the fourth-century text Veni Redemptor omnium attributed to Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397). (Martin Luther’s German translation of this text and the chorale to which he set it are the inspiration for Sunday’s Mass ordinary.) Unlike the beloved metrical hymns of the season, our plainsong hymns seem to me to make a larger interior space for hearts and souls.
Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians is regarded as the oldest book in the New Testament. In it Paul writes about Christ’s second coming and about the resurrection of the dead. He urges the Thessalonians not to grieve too much for the departed. Because of Jesus Christ, those who believe are not people without hope. He says, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). I hope you and I can catch Advent speaking, as it were, its messages of hope and expectation, of repentance and judgment, of death and life—and that we all may be ready to have a very blessed Christmas. Stephen Gerth
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of December 4, we have reached 63% of our goal of $450,000.00. One statistic is worth sharing: only 51% of those who pledged last year have returned pledge cards so far for 2013. If you have not yet received a pledge packet, but would like to receive one, or if you have questions, please contact the parish office, Father Jay Smith or MaryJane Boland. We are very grateful to all those who have made a pledge this year and to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Barbara, Cheryl, Daniel, Eugene, Eileen, Sharon, Roland, Wendy, Stephen, Tiffany, Henrietta, Richard, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Carl, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Jane Elizabeth Lenow Dietsche . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 9: 1871 Fred K. Relyea Hackley; 1897 James J. Thompson; 1904 Henry Ortho; 1906 Cornelius Hawley; 1913 Anna Frances Richardson; 1929 Rose White; 1936 Thurston Carlyle Culyer; 1941 Anna Barry King; 1952 William C. Piehl; 1965 Thomas J. Dauth.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . Father Jim Pace will lead a Quiet Day here at the parish on Saturday, December 15, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. The theme of the Quiet Day is "You Will Find a Child: Exploring The Infancy Narratives". Father Pace has planned three meditations–Overview: Making Ready for the Dawn; The Canticles; and Hear, Share, Interpret. Coffee and tea—and lunch—will be provided. If you’d like to attend, please contact Father Jay Smith so he can make plans for lunch. All are welcome.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, December 9, 10:00 AM, Mother Mary Julia Jett continues her three-part series on the Ritualist Movement in England and America . . . There is a meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday, December 10, at 6:30 PM . . . Wednesday, December 12, 6:30 PM, Bible Study Class: The Lord’s Prayer, led by Father Jay Smith . . . Father Gerth will be on vacation Tuesday, December 11, until Tuesday, December 18. He returns to the office on Wednesday, December 19 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, December 8. Father Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, December 15.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sunday, December 9, is the twenty-third anniversary of Father Smith’s ordination to the priesthood at the cathedral. He will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses on Sunday . . . Canon Carl Gerdau is at New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Flowers are needed for December 16, the Third Sunday of Advent; for January 6 and 20; and for February 10. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 254.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude before the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme, BWV 645, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Music on Sunday is sung by a quintet of singers drawn from the main choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa super “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (c. 1670–1746). Both the prelude and the ordinary setting are based upon a well–known German chorale for Advent, which is found in The Hymnal 1982 as Hymn 54, Savior of the nations, come. Fischer, a German Baroque composer who is not particularly well known today, is recognized chiefly for his instrumental music and for a prominent role in introducing French musical styles to Germany. This piece is written in a straightforward polyphonic fashion, the style of Renaissance choral music (with which Fischer would have been well acquainted); nonetheless, it possesses many stylistic traits of the Baroque period. The motet is Ecce Virgo concipiet by Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450–1517), a setting of the familiar prediction of Jesus’ birth from the Book of Isaiah . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM the organ recital will be played by Janet Chung, the Manhattan School of Music, New York City. Her program includes music by Jan Pieterszon Sweelinck (1562–1621) and Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992). James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On Saturday, December 8, at 8:00 PM, the New York City Master Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Thea Kano, will present An A Cappella Christmas. The program will include music by Arvo Pärt, Morten Lauridsen, Edwin Fissinger, as well as much-loved holiday music. Tickets can be purchased online . . . On Saturday, December 15, at 8:00 PM, the New York Repertory Orchestra will present its Annual Benefit Concert. The program includes music by Delibes, Walton, and Tubin. Admission is $10.00 . . . On Saturday, December 22, at 3:00 PM, James Kennerley will perform Olivier Messiaen's transcendental Christmas masterpiece La Nativité du Seigneur.
ADULT EDUCATION ON SUNDAYS . . . On Sunday, December 9 & 16, at 10:00 AM, Mother Mary Julia Jett leads a series on the history and theology of the so-called Ritualist Movement in England and America during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The class will examine, and look beyond, the details of ritual, decoration, and aesthetics, attempting to explore, among other things, how the movement was connected to the Oxford Movement; the controversies, riots, and arrests associated with so-called Ritualist practices; what the strengths and weaknesses of the movement were; what the movement can tell us about our own worship; and the connections the “Ritualists” made between the sacraments and social justice. The class is designed to raise and answer questions about the history and identity of this parish, which has, since its founding, been committed to Catholic renewal within the Anglican Communion.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Because of the generosity of several donors, we recently made a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to aid with post-Hurricane Sandy relief. We are glad to receive such donations and promise to make sure that they are used for the purposes of hurricane relief; or, if you prefer, donations can be made directly. One can make donations to ERD online. The Diocese of Long Island is also accepting donations online to aid in the relief effort. Donations to aid in the relief effort within the Diocese of New York are being handled by Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York . . . We continue to gather warm clothing—socks, coats of all sizes, sweaters, and sweatshirts—and blankets for distribution to the homeless in our neighborhood. Some of those items, as well as non-perishable food items, will be sent to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work.