FROM FATHER SMITH: AND SO, PERHAPS, BE KIND
Peter Cole is a poet and translator who divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven. He was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1957, and is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a winner of a so-called "genius grant." Just as Cole moves between Israel and Connecticut, so also does he move with grace and ease between Hebrew and English, between the Jewish cultures of medieval Spain and the Middle East and contemporary life in the United States. In an interview in 2015 in the Paris Review, he described his work as poet and translator as "at heart, the same activity carried out at different points along a spectrum." All this is evident in his book, The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 (Princeton University Press, 2007), in which he renders medieval Hebrew and Arabic poetry into startlingly beautiful modern-day English.
In his book Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), Cole includes a poem called "Every Single Person":
Every single person you meet,
Philo wrote, it's said--Everyone--
is fighting a very great battle.
Except that no one is able to find where he said it, or what he thought
the burden might be that brings it on.
Still, it's almost certainly true--
and so he added, perhaps, be kind.
In this poem, one sees Cole's ability to swim with equal ease in the waters of antiquity and those of contemporary America. What's more, he assumes that the channel between those two times and places is easily found and just as easily traveled. He is referring here to the brilliant Hellenized Jewish philosopher and interpreter of scripture, Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.), and seems to assume that we will know all about this Philo, though he reminds us that Philo lived and wrote a long time ago-after all, one does have to search for that elusive quote. But the antiquity of Philo's words matters little. The philosopher speaks an eternal truth. Life isn't easy. There's no hiding or denying it: every human being faces difficulties and challenges. "Everyone is fighting a great battle"; and it doesn't really matter why that's so, it simply is; therefore, Philo, or maybe it's someone else, adds this simple advice, "Be kind."
I thought of Cole's poem last Sunday as I listened to John Sheehan give his presentation in the Adult Forum. John is a social worker and the director of ecumenical outreach services at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. His work is supported and funded, not only by Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, but by a few other Midtown religious institutions-thus the "ecumenical" in his title. John works with our neighbors here in Midtown who lack housing, or have inadequate housing, and who live and struggle with a wide range of difficulties and challenges. When we invited John to talk to us, we asked him to discuss the problem of homelessness here in New York. Not knowing John, I thought he would probably give a talk filled with statistics and illustrated with graphs and charts. That's not what John did. He talked to us about human beings who have a lot of struggles. He reminded us that nobody wants to be without a place to sleep, to bathe, to come home to at the end of the day. He reminded us that problems like addiction, financial instability, job loss, or mental illness are neither strange, unusual, or foreign. We all know people who struggle with those issues, and some of us struggle with those things, too. John reminded us that the homeless, the unsheltered, are not aliens from some strange planet. They are human beings. They are our brothers and sisters, who are facing a lot of difficulties. They, like we, are "fighting a very great battle"; and his advice was the same as Philo's and Cole's. First, see the human being. Start there, and be kind. --Jay Smith
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mary Hope, Francis, Melvin Jack, Ellie, Pat, Barbara, Ann, Chris, Linda, Gene, Marie, Rita, May, Willard, Alexandra, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, José, John, James, Michael, and Abraham; for Horace, Kent, Gene, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, priests, and James, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, remembering especially Edward; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of Chuen Kwok, Anthony L. Mason, Nazario A. Vazquez Villegas, and Anthony L. Manson. . . GRANT THEM PEACE: October 13: 1884 Katie Palmer; 1900 John Unger; 1965 Ada Beazley.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion.
THE HIGH HOLY DAYS . . . As I write this on the evening of Wednesday, October 9, 2019, Yom Kippur has come to an end. The ten Days of Awe which began on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, ended tonight at sunset. In New York City, as autumn arrives, many of us are aware that our Jewish brothers and sisters are about to enter a sacred time in their calendar and in their lives. They are often in our prayers during this time. This is especially true this year as we read reports of anti-semitism nearby and around the world. On the eve of Yom Kippur, the Holocaust Memorial, the Garden of Remembrance, was desecrated in White Plains, in Westchester County. On Yom Kippur, an armed man tried to enter a synagogue in Halle, Germany, and killed two people, and injured two others. As our Jewish neighbors prepare to celebrate the joyous feast of Sukkot, we continue to pray for the Jewish people and for an end to the sins of violence, hatred, and anti-semitism.
"We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your word spoken through the prophets . . ." (Book of Common Prayer 1979, Eucharistic Prayer B, p. 368) --Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, October 12, 8:00 PM, Concert at Saint Mary's: New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & Nathaniel LaNasa, soloist. Music to include works by Debussy, Beethoven, and Hindemith. Admission is free. A donation is requested . . . Sunday, October 13, Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Academic-Year Worship Schedule: Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, with Organ and Choir; Adult Forum, 12:45 PM in the Lady Chapel. Note place and later time; Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Monday, October 14, Columbus Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered. Only the noonday Twelve-Step Groups meet in the Mission House . . . Wednesday, October 16, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Clothing Ministry: Drop-in Day, 2:00-4:00 PM, Mission House . . . Thursday, October 17, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM; . . . Friday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM; Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Morning Room (next to the Sacristy and across the hall from the Smoke Room), in the Parish House, at 145 West Forty-sixth Street.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . There was an explosion--in an underground "electrical vault," we are told--on Forty-seventh Street, across the street from, and just west of, the front door of the Rectory late on the afternoon of Thursday, October 10. Most of Forty-seventh Street was closed to pedestrians and to vehicles for a couple of hours. Rubble was visible in the street, and a large hole could be seen near the hotel construction on the north side of the street from the second-floor windows of the rectory. Two construction workers were injured in this "manhole explosion," but their injuries were, thank God, not life-threatening. There was no visible damage to the rectory, the Lady Chapel, or the Forty-seventh Street façade of the church. Please pray for those injured. We give thanks for the large number of first responders who arrived quickly and worked throughout the afternoon . . . The Adult Forum will meet this coming Sunday, and on October 20, and 27, at 12:45 PM in the Lady Chapel. On Sunday, October 13, Father Jim Pace, Brother Damien Joseph, and Brother Thomas, assisted by a physician who has worked with vulnerable populations, will present the second of four classes on the challenges faced by those without shelter or inadequate shelter here in New York . . . On Sunday, October 20, there will be a Guild Fair in Saint Joseph's Hall. The members of the various parish guilds will be available to discuss their work and ministry . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, November 10 and 17. Please be in touch with Chris Howatt in the parish office if you would like to make a donation for one of these dates . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish on vacation October 10-17. He returns to the office on Friday, October 18 . . . Attendance at all Offices and Masses: Last Sunday 188.
BIBLE STUDY AT SAINT MARY'S . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class met for the first time this season on October 9. The class, led by Father Jay Smith, is studying the forms of prayer in the Hebrew Bible. After an introduction to the topic, the class will study and read closely one or two biblical texts each week. The class meets next on October 16 at 6:30 PM, on October 23 at 7:00 PM (after the evening Mass), and on October 30 at 6:30 PM. The class takes place in Saint Benedict's Study in the Parish House.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION: COMING UP NEXT . . . Father Peter Powell will be teaching the Adult Forum on Sunday mornings during the month of November. Father Powell writes, "On the four Sundays in November, we will be reading from the last twelve books of the Old Testament. All you need to participate is curiosity about the Bible. Why should this interest you? The issues each prophet addressed are relevant today as we work out how to be faithful in a divided society. These books, known as The Twelve or as the Minor Prophets, include Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Habakkuk. We will examine them in their original setting and then move into how they speak to us today. We will begin with Hosea and Amos and then get as far into the others as we can. Amos and Hosea tell us about how to be faithful in a time in which conservative religion appears to be in control of our culture. The twelve prophets lived in a time when religion dominated, but faith was absent. Our time is much like that. I invite you to join me in November as we begin this important study of how God works in our world." These classes will meet at 10:00 AM on Sunday mornings in November, in Saint Benedict's Study, in the Parish House, 145 West Forty-Sixth Street.
ABOUT THE MUSIC ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13 . . . Tomás Luís de Victoria (c. 1548-1611) is considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594) who was maestro di cappella of the Seminario Romano in Rome at the time Victoria was studying at the nearby Jesuit Collegio Germanico. During his years in Rome, Victoria held several positions as singer, organist, and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. There are twenty authenticated Mass settings of Victoria in addition to two Requiems. Although the Missa Dominicalis, sung as the Mass setting on Sunday morning, has long been attributed to Victoria, it is considered spurious by some more recent scholars after recognizing elements in the music which appear uncharacteristic of Victoria's style. No alternative authorship has been determined. The Missa Dominicalis is an alternatim setting, that is, phrases of text are sung in segments which alternate chant with four-voice polyphony. In addition, the polyphonic segments are rigorous in their use of chant phrases as cantus firmus. The cantus firmus for the Kyrie (not sung this morning) and the Gloria is Mass XI, Orbis Factor, the plainsong designated for Sundays throughout the year. The cantus firmus for the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei is Mass XVIII, the plainsong designated for weekdays in Advent and Lent, and at Masses of the Dead.
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) was baptized on Christmas Day 1583 in Oxford, where his father, William Gibbons, was employed as a town musician. He was a chorister at King's College, Cambridge, between 1596 and 1598, while his elder brother, Edward (1568-1650), was master of the choristers. King James I appointed Orlando Gibbons a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as an organist for the last ten years of his life. He was active as a court musician, and served as organist at Westminster Abbey. In his relatively short life, Gibbons composed generously for keyboard, for viols, and for voices in both sacred and secular realms. His sacred works include two service settings, several verse anthems, and several full anthems including Sunday's Communion motet, Almighty and everlasting God, a setting of the collect formerly attached to the Third Sunday after Epiphany. Although one of the more modest of Gibbons' compositions for the English service, it is an important early example of the English full anthem and served as a model for the close-following generations of distinguished church music composers that included John Blow and Henry Purcell.
The organ voluntaries on Sunday are the first and third movements from the second Organ Sonata of Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911). Guilmant became organist of Saint Sulpice, Paris, in 1863, Notre Dame in 1868, and La Trinité in 1871, where he remained for thirty years. He was a founder of the Schola Cantorum and succeeded Widor as professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory in 1896. He studied with Lemmens, and his students included such legendary musicians as Joseph Bonnet, Nadia Boulanger, and Marcel Dupré. He was a prolific composer and, between 1861 and 1911, wrote more music than did Franck, Saint-Saëns, Widor and Vierne altogether. While his compositions were the vogue of his time, they became less fashionable after his death. In recent years, however, Guilmant's compositions have been rediscovered. His eight multi-movement Sonatas, composed between 1874 and 1906, contain some of his finest organ music. The first movement of his Second Organ Sonata, played for the prelude on Sunday, is a warm and lyric Allegro moderato in romantic sonata form. The third and final movement, played for the postlude, is marked Allegro vivace and is in an energetic triple meter. --David Hurd
FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS . . . Some weeks ago, Father Gerth invited members of the parish community to pray for and to consider making a donation to help the people of the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. This week we received another call to respond to the needs of the Bahamian people from the Bishop of New York. Donations may be made to Episcopal Relief and Development, or to the Bahamas Recovery Fund of the Diocese of New York. News of conditions in the Bahamas is available at the websites of the Nassau Guardian and the Bahamas Press.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place Wednesday, October 16, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, in the Mission House basement. On those Wednesdays when a Drop-in Day does not take place, we continue to offer our Grab-and-Go days-from 2:00 to 3:00 PM-in the former Gift Shop off the church Narthex. On those days, basic, even emergency, items can normally be provided-socks, underwear, toiletry articles, and, in the winter months, cold-weather clothing. Please contact Brother Damien if you would like to donate cash, clothing, or toiletry articles, or to volunteer for this important ministry. We have a particular need at the moment for cooler weather clothing: gently used jackets, coats and sweatshirts of varying weights, jeans, slacks and sweatpants. We always need new socks and underwear in various sizes. Our number of guests continues to grow, and we are always grateful for your financial contributions to this project. We can also use a few more volunteers for our once per month drop-in days. We invite you to come see the difference we're making, or talk to us at our table in Saint Joseph's Hall at the Guild Fair on Sunday, October 20. . . We continue to receive donations of canned goods and other nonperishable food items for the Saint Clement's Food Pantry. Donations may be placed in the basket next to the Ushers' Table at the Forty-sixth Street entrance to the church.
AN UPCOMING EXHIBITION . . . Opening November 22, 2019, at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, New York 10029. Phone: 212.534.1672. Exhibition: Who We Are: Visualizing New York by the Numbers is a major new multimedia exhibition exploring, celebrating, and highlighting the importance of data as a tool for understanding New York and its residents. Presented to mark the 2020 Census, the exhibition reveals the importance of the population count, not just for ensuring fair political representation and funding education, infrastructure, and social programs, but also in helping us explore complex questions of identity in a rapidly changing world. Who We Are showcases the creative and artistic use of mapping and information design to shine a light on how New York has changed over time and who New Yorkers are today.