FROM THE RECTOR: GOING HOME
As I wrote in the newsletter last week, my mother, Barbara Knoeller, died on Wednesday, April 24, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her funeral was held at her parish church in St. Mary’s City, Maryland, on Saturday, April 27. Trinity Church sits on a cliff above St. Mary’s River, which flows into the Potomac just above that river’s entrance into the Chesapeake Bay. St. Mary’s City was the first town in colonial Maryland. The parish dates from 1638. There is no town there now, just Saint Mary’s College and the church.
In his homily the Reverend John Ball, the rector, recalled the funeral of my stepfather in this same church six years ago. He reminded us that after Bill’s death Alzheimer’s meant my mother would move to Virginia, where she died. He said, “She has now come home to St. Mary’s.” When the service ended, my mother’s nieces and nephews and her stepson-in-law carried her coffin to the grave in the churchyard. Her mortal body was indeed home.
After the funeral the family went to the house upriver where she and my late stepfather had lived in retirement. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day—warm, but a cool wind was blowing across the Potomac. Adults talked and caught up with each other. My stepfather’s grandsons played catch with their dad. My brother’s older daughters played on the swings next door. My sister and her family were there too, of course.
My mother’s older brother and his wife—she had known my mother since high school days, were there with two of their children. Two of my mother’s younger brother’s children were there. In the midst of whatever emotions any of us felt, there was real joy that my mother’s struggles had ended. Mom brought us together in the place she and my stepfather had loved and had made a home. As my Uncle Lawrence (mom’s older brother) observed at Bill’s funeral, “The angels in the family are with us.” It was true again on Saturday.
The early nineteenth-century American folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” is one of my favorites for its tune and its text. (I’m especially fond of the setting recorded by Chanticleer on their album Our American Journey .) There are many variations of the text, but these are the lyrics used by Chanticleer:
I am a poor wayfarin’ stranger,
a traveling through this world of woe,
yet there’s no sickness, toil or danger
in that bright land to which I go.
I’m going home to see my Father;
I’m going home no more to roam.
I’m only goin’ over Jordan;
I’m only goin’ over home.
I want to wear a crown of glory
when I get home to that bright land.
I want to shout salvation’s story
with the redeemed, that blood-washed band.
I’m going there to meet my Savior,
to sing his praise for evermore.
I’m only goin’ over Jordan;
I’m only goin’ over home.
New Testament imagery had meaning for my mother throughout her life. The meaning of those images continues to deepen for me, as does my love for those I know and have known. I remain so thankful for the faith and Southern Baptist heritage my mother nurtured in my life as I grew up. One of my favorite prayers—besides the Lord’s Prayer (which my mother taught me)—entered the Prayer Book tradition in 1928. This year it has become my Easter prayer:
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer  831)
I am so thankful for the prayers, understanding and support of this congregation and of my colleagues at this time. My mother didn’t rest much—and I’m sure I honor her by getting back to work. There’s an annual meeting this Sunday. Ascension Day is next week. It’s Eastertide. All of this is not an abstraction, an aesthetic; it is reality which we live through faith in this life for the life to come. We are all going home. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Charles, Mary, John, Kelli, Nancy, Ruth, Eloise, Sharon, Linda, Cheryl, Wayne, Charles, Christopher, Jane, Diana, Dolores, Eileen, Arpene, Lura Grace, religious, Rowan, priest, Paulette, priest, and John, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, Elizabeth, and Nicholas; and for the repose of the soul of Barbara Knoeller . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 5: 1911 William Ellwood; 1912 John Thomas Barry and Adelaide Langford Harrout; 1920 Henry A. Renling; 1934 Catherine Sinclair Chauncey; 1942 Paul Wagstaff Craig; 1943 Mamie Johnston; 1945 Anna Davis Elizabeth Haines; 1965 Elizabeth Perrigo.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, May 5, The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Solemn Mass & May Crowning, 11:00 AM . . . The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held following the Solemn Mass on Sunday, May 5. The meeting will receive reports from parish organizations, staff and the board of trustees. The meeting will elect two delegates and two alternate delegates to serve as our representatives to the annual diocesan convention . . . Wednesday, May 8, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 9, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, celebrant and preacher. Bishop Wolf is the recently retired bishop of Rhode Island. She, and her husband, Thomas Bair, have worshipped with us on a number of occasions in recent months.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Donations for altar flowers are needed for two Sundays during the month of June: June 9 and 16. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 209.
AIDS WALK 2013 . . . Last year, Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team did extraordinarily well. It ranked 23rd among the 3,410 teams that walked in 2012. That money continues to be used by Gay Men’s Health Crisis in the fight against AIDS and to provide education, treatment, and care for people who are at risk of infection, are HIV-positive, or have AIDS. This is one of Saint Mary's major outreach efforts. Fifty percent of last year’s Maundy Thursday offering went to the AIDS Walk. Fundraising for AIDS Walk 2013 is now underway. Our team will walk on May 19 after Solemn Mass and before Evensong & Benediction. You are invited to join as a walker and fundraiser. Everyone is invited to make a contribution to our team. A link to the team’s web page is here. Copies of our informational flyer can be found on the table near the church entrances or downloaded from the parish website. You can also contact Father Jay Smith or MaryJane Boland, the team coordinator. We thank you for your support.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, May 5, at 10:00 AM, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will begin a three-part series in the Adult Forum, Angles of Anglican Poetry: Clerics, Converts, Contrarians, and Crossovers. Rebecca will be discussing the work of Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Rossetti, and Eliot, among others. The last class of the Sunday-morning Adult Forum will take place on Sunday, May 12. Classes will resume in October, after the summer break . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on May 8 at 7:00 PM, after Solemn Evensong. Note the later time. This will be the last class of the season. Bible Study will resume in October. Jay Smith
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT (VAP) . . . A new exhibition of work by the photographer and artist Máximo Colón was installed in Saint Joseph's Hall this week. The exhibition is called Devoción. Colón is working here within the “found-object” tradition, discovering and re-using materials and objects to create a new aesthetic. The centerpieces of the works are a collection of santos (“saints”), produced by Latin American artists and artisans, many of which have been housed here in wooden boxes called nichos. Such nichos were traditionally placed in the home, and were used as shrines and altars for prayer, veneration, and devotion. The nichos are complemented in the exhibit by Colón’s photographs, each of which, in its own way, represents an act of devotion. In this exhibit, the artist has blended the religious with the secular, the private with the public, childhood memories of his native Puerto Rico along with a seasoned, political worldview. Devoción runs from May 1 until the beginning of June. The opening reception is on Ascension Day, May 9, at 7:30 PM. For more information, or to view the work on weekdays and Saturdays, please contact me. José Vidal
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary on May 5 is Missa brevis C–dur, KV 259 (“Orgelsolo”) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). An early work, this setting was probably composed in Salzburg in 1776. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Ave Regina caelorum (“Hail, Queen of Heaven”) by Peter Philips (1561–1628). Philips was born in England, and became a chorister at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1572. In 1582 he fled to the Continent, first to Flanders, then to Rome, on account of his Roman Catholic beliefs . . . At 4:40 PM on Sunday, I will play the organ recital, which will feature improvisation as well as Franck’s Pièce héroïque . . . At Solemn Evensong on May 8, the Eve of Ascension Day, the choir will sing the canticles taken from John Amner’s (1579–1641) Short Service. The anthem is Ascendens Christus in altum by Jacob Handl (1550–1591) . . . On May 9, Ascension Day, Craig S. Williams, the chapel organist at the United States Military Academy, West Point, will play the organ recital at 5:30 PM. At Solemn Mass, the setting is Missa Sanctae Mariae Virginis, which I composed this year; today will be the first performance. It is a great pleasure to dedicate the work to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and to our magnificent choir. The setting is based on two solemn plainsong melodies that accompany Marian texts (Salve regina and Ave maris stella). These two themes served as the inspiration for the entire setting, although they are never heard in their entirety. Rather, I have taken fragments and melodic “cells”, which are then developed and incorporated into the various textures. The intention was to create a setting that molded the ancient with the modern, to stand as a fitting counterpart to our liturgy, which does much the same thing. This was the main reason for the use of Latin, rather than an English, translation for the text. The principal choral items of the Solemn Mass–the plainsong minor propers, and the ordinary–serve as the framework around which the solemnity is set. Bishop Michael Marshall, who preached here on April 8, for the Feast of the Annunciation, uses a marvelously appropriate phrase: that music is “the bicycle of the liturgy.” In that sense, I have used several musical techniques to create a strong feeling of unity–organicism, even–between the Mass movements. The more “personal” lines of the Gloria, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei texts, for example, share distinctively similar motivic and melodic material. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the magnificent motet O clap your hands together by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625). James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, May 4, 8:00 PM, Concert by New York City Master Chorale: Music of Francis Poulenc, featuring Gloria and Stabat Mater. Thea Kano, conductor; Paige Cutrona, soprano; James Kennerley, organ. For information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Chorale’s website . . . Saturday, May 18, 2013, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Airi Yoshioka, violin soloist; David Leibowitz, music director. Music by Mauer, Sibelius, and Debussy. Admission is free. For more information, please visit the NYRO website.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . The Diocese of New York’s Young Adult Network is made up of people in their twenties and thirties, and their friends, from Episcopal congregations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Network seeks to develop, inspire, and nourish the following three goals: spiritual practice, social connection, and service. The Network sponsors a number of events throughout the year. On Monday, May 6, the Network is sponsoring a “bar debate” at the Galway Pub, 36th Street and Madison Avenue, 7:00-8:15 PM. The topic of the debate is “resolved: the Anglican Communion is too progressive.” Speaking for the affirmative is the Rev. Douglas Ousley, rector of the Church of the Incarnation; speaking for the negative is the Most Rev. Peter Carnley, retired Archbishop of Australia. The event promises to be lively and informative!
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Electronic versions of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s Guide to Free Food and Assistance are available here . . . We continue to gather non-perishable food items for Saint Clement’s Pantry. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work . . . Donations to the Bishop Sisk Fund for the Care of Children in the Diocese of New York may be made here . . . The Book Sale in Saint Joseph’s Hall continues on Sunday morning. All proceeds are used to help those in need.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . May 26, Trinity Sunday . . . Monday, May 27, Memorial Day. Federal Holiday schedule . . . June 2, The Body & Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi, Solemn Mass, Procession to Times Square, and Eucharistic Benediction, 11:00 AM.