The Angelus

Volume 15, Number 48

FROM THE RECTOR: SUNDAY, SAINTS & SOULS

This is one of those great weeks at Saint Mary’s—great every year, and different depending on how the days of the week fall. We begin with Sunday, of course, this year, October 27. It’s observed with the regular schedule of services, as are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday—except that Monday is the Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and there are two Eucharists, one at 12:10 PM and one at 6:20 PM.

Thursday, October 31, is the Eve of All Saints’ Day. Solemn Evensong will be sung at 6:00 PM by the congregation and a quartet from the choir. The quartet will sing the evening canticles from Short Service by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625) and the anthem O Quam gloriosam by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611). The service lasts between 35 and 40 minutes and is a very “Christian” way to begin the celebration of All Hallows—all the holy saints of God.

All Saint’s Day is Friday, November 1. The Solemn Mass will be at 6:00 PM, preceded by an organ recital at 5:30 PM. Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM and the 12:10 PM Mass will both be sung. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be preacher for the Solemn Mass.

Saturday, November 2, is All Souls’ Day. There will be a Sung Mass and Blessing of the Vault at 11:00 AM. Sunday, November 3, for us will be the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost and the regular Sunday schedule will be observed.

The history of All Saints’ and All Souls’ and of how these commemorations become a part of the life of the church is complex—as I write I have three different books open on my desk and there could be more before I finish. As Massey Shepherd wrote:

In Scripture the word ‘saints’ is used of all the people of God, that is, all who have been sanctified by the Spirit. It does not refer to personal character, or to a special class of more distinguished believers (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary [1950] 256-7).

What we call the cult of the saints, with the probable exception of devotion to the Virgin Mary, grew out of the persecution of the Christian community in the first centuries of what comes to be the Christian era. Devotion to Mary seems to have emerged at the same time (Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Season in Early Christianity [2011] 213-4).

As the Middle Ages pass, the New Testament’s understanding of “saint,” that is, someone who has been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit, is transformed. A saint is now a departed person in whom God’s work in this world was so overwhelming that he or she has become a heavenly person through whom God’s gifts can be sought. This type of relationship has precedents in classical antiquity. (Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints [1981] 50-68). One echo of this world view can be found in Matthew when Jesus answers a question about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He responds, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

The Protestant Reformation in England removed almost all traces of this inheritance from the post-New Testament church, but again, not entirely. The Puritan minister, ordained in the Church of England, Richard Baxter (1615-1691) could write a hymn addressed to the angels, the departed and the saints that is still well-known today, “Ye holy angels bright” (The Hymnal 1982, Hymn 625). When John Henry Newman (1801-1890) tried to suggest in the infamous “Tract 90” (1841) that prayer for the departed and the invocation of saints, among other things, were compatible with Anglicanism, his views met widespread opposition. Newman continued moving theologically towards Roman Catholicism and he joined that ecclesial community in 1845. The theological life of Anglicanism moved on too.

One fruit of the academic work and pastoral experience of the last two hundred years is the increase in knowledge in every discipline, including theology. Our understanding of historical context, as well as the study of scripture, has helped us broaden our understanding of the shared life in Christ all have who believe in him. In the Episcopal Church, we believe that our love and care for those we have known does not end at death. All live to God in Christ (Romans 6:9-11).

On All Saints’ Day we celebrate the reality of God’s presence in all who have known God’s love in their lives through Christ and who are now in the nearer presence of God. On All Souls’ Day we remember by name those who have died whom we have known and loved. I like the distinction for a pastoral reason: All Souls’ Day recognizes in a particular and important way the reality of Christian grief. Jesus wept, and so do we. For those who are new to the parish community, there are details about the ways we remember the departed in this newsletter.

All Saints’ and All Souls’ are always powerful for me. I love the traditional readings on both days. The hymns are always powerful—“For all the saints, who from their labors rest” is my favorite hymn. Perhaps because my mother and her brother died this year I am feeling the glory of these days a little more than I have in the past. And I suspect the power of these celebrations, like the power of Easter and Christmas, will be more, not less, in the years to come. If you are near the city, I hope you may be able to be with us at this very special time. Stephen Gerth

 

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Sharon, Takeem, Rob, Carey, Roy, Peter, Barbara, Linda, Albert, Shannon, Babak, Tyler, Mary, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Alex, Elizabeth, Ben, and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 27: 1944 Whidden Graham; 1948 George Grant; 1965 Peter LaFarge.

 

FRIDAY ABSTINENCE . . . The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Abstinence is not observed on Friday, November 1, All Saints’ Day.

 

THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Adult Forum, Sunday, October 27, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Mother Mary Julia Jett concludes her three-part series on “The Poetry and Hymnody of Syriac Christianity” . . . Monday, October 28: The Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles, Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class meets on October 30 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall (the class will also meet on November 6, 13, and 20) . . . Thursday, October 31: All Saints’ Eve, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Friday, November 1: All Saints’ Day. Please see the Calendar for service details . . . Saturday, November 2: All Souls’ Day, Sung Mass & Blessing of the Vault 11:00 AM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 26, and on Saturday, November 2, by Father Jay Smith.

 

PARISH REQUIEMS . . . At these Masses, the prayers will be offered for the departed by the last name of the person making the request: Monday, November 4 (A-G); Tuesday, November 5 (H-M); Wednesday, November 6 (N-R); Friday, November 8 (S-Z). Additional envelopes and cards for these Masses will be available on Sunday at the ushers’ table in the church.

 

STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2013-2014 . . . Pledge packets have been mailed this week. We invite you to prayerfully consider this year’s appeal and to be generous. Commitment Sunday is November 24, the Feast of Christ the King. Please help us to continue our mission and ministry to our members, to our community, and our diocese. Thank you to all who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.

 

AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Dick Leitsch continues his recovery at Amsterdam House. Parishioner Sharon Singh has been ill and has been recovering at home. Please keep both Dick and Sharon in your prayers . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to a member of the clergy. Bishop Dietsche will be with us on Monday, December 9, at 6:00 PM . . . Donations are requested: for altar flowers on November 17 and 24 and on December 15; and for the reception after the Solemn Mass on All Saints’ Day, Friday November 1. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Attendance Last Sunday: 264.

 

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Christian education for young children, continues on Sunday, October 27, at 9:45 AM, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. For more information, please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. If you know families with children that might be interested in a vibrant and effective church-school curriculum, please tell them about the Catechesis and invite them to Saint Mary’s . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on October 30, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is reading the Acts of the Apostles this year. All are welcome. No prior experience is necessary. On Wednesday, we will be discussing Acts 4, the arrest and release of Peter and John. Please note, the class will meet on November 6, 13, and 20 . . . In the Adult Forum, October 27, at 10:00 AM, The Poetry and Hymnody of Syriac Christianity, led by Mother Mary Julia Jett . . . November 3, 10, and 17, The Book of Exodus, led by Father Pete Powell.

 

MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Charles Wood (1866–1926) was born within the cathedral precincts of Armagh, Ireland. He was a chorister in the choir of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (Anglican Church of Ireland), where his father served as a stipendiary “Gentleman” in the Cathedral choir. Wood received his early education at the Cathedral Choir School and studied organ with Robert Turle and his successor Dr. Thomas Marks. In 1883 he became one of fifty inaugural class members of the Royal College of Music, studying composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. He continued his studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge, through 1889, where he eventually taught harmony and counterpoint. In 1889, he attained a teaching position at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, becoming the first director of music and organist there. Upon Stanford’s death, Wood assumed his mentor’s position as University of Cambridge Professor of Music in 1924. Known primarily for his music for the Anglican Church, Wood’s a cappella music demonstrates fastidious craftsmanship and a supreme mastery of the genre, and he is no less resourceful in his accompanied choral works, which sometimes include unison sections and have stirring organ accompaniments. The Mass setting we hear on Sunday, the Short Communion Service in the Phrygian Mode, demonstrates Wood’s use of modality and medieval compositional techniques, placing much of his work in stark contrast to the lush romantic work of his contemporaries. He collaborated with priest and poet George Ratcliffe Woodward in the revival and popularization of Renaissance tunes to new English religious texts, notably co-editing three books of carols. He was also co-founder (in 1904) of the Irish Folk Song Society. At the ministration of Holy Communion we will hear the motet, O quam suavis est, by the prolific English Renaissance composer, William Byrd (1543–1623). Mark Peterson

 

OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . 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 . . . If you would like to make a cash donation to AIDS Action International, whose pre-Christmas event will take place at the Church of Saint Michael on Amsterdam Avenue in mid-November, please speak to Father Smith . . . Members of the AIDS Walk Team, as well as donors to the Walk, are invited to attend an informational session at GMHC in order to hear about GMHC’s programs and services—“to hear where your money goes.” Two sessions are planned: Tuesday, October 29, 12:30 PM or Thursday, November 7, 6:30 PM, 446 W. 33rd Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues). If you would like to attend one of these sessions, please RSVP by Monday, October 28, to Emily Parsons at GMHC.

 

AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Monday, November 18, 6:30 PM, The Seabury Auditorium at the General Theological Seminary, 440 West 21st Street, Kate Cooper in conversation with Deirdre Good about Prof. Cooper’s book, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women. Prof. Cooper is professor of ancient history at the University of Manchester. Prof. Good is professor of New Testament and academic dean at the General Theological Seminary . . . At The Cloisters, September 10–December 8, 2013, Fort Tryon Park, New York City: The Forty-Part Motet (2001), a sound installation by Janet Cardiff.