The Angelus

Volume 21, Number 45

The High Altar on Michaelmas, Sunday, September 29, 2019.
Floral design by Marie Rosseels
Photo: Brendon Hunter


On Sunday, October 6, we begin the 2019–2020 academic-year season, a period of time that is sometimes referred to here at the parish as “the choir season.” There is some irony about this: we live according to the rhythms of the liturgical year at Saint Mary’s, but the “academic year” is not a particularly liturgical category. Still, it is a way of reckoning time that has proven helpful to us over the years: on the first Sunday in October the choir returns to worship with us at the Solemn Mass; Morning and Evening Prayer are sung on Sunday; and, after the long summer break, Christian Education returns on Wednesday evenings—normally at 6:30 PM—and on Sunday mornings, normally at 10:00 AM. (In October, the Adult Forum will meet at 12:45 PM in the Lady Chapel.)

"Perfume and incense make the heart glad"--Proverbs 27:9
Photo: Grace Mudd

This year, the advent of the “choir season” brings with it something quite particular: the opportunity to mark and celebrate our parish’s one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary. We will do this in a number of ways, and I will leave it to the rector to talk about the various events and celebrations that are being planned to mark the anniversary.

However, as we begin this season of remembrance and celebration, I would like to invite the members of the Saint Mary’s community to recall and to give thanks for the ministry of service that seems to have been part of this parish’s life almost from the start. It is surely not a mistake that the present building complex, inaugurated in 1895, and in the years shortly thereafter, included not only the magnificent church building, housing for priests and their families in the rectory and in the clergy house, but also a mission house. The task of writing a history of the work undertaken in the mission house over the years awaits some future ambitious parishioner. But, I think we can safely say that the mission house has almost always been the locus of efforts to “read the signs of the times,” to discern the needs of the poor and marginalized in this neighborhood, and to try to respond, in different ways, to those many needs.

In the early years, this meant that vowed religious, the members of relatively new Episcopal religious orders for women, undertook work with young laywomen living in or near Longacre Square and Hell’s Kitchen. When one reads contemporary accounts of that work, it is easy to think of it as quaint—women wearing veils teaching young women how to sew, while presumably also administering strong doses of moral instruction. However, such easy condescension is, I think, misguided. I suspect this was a work that was actually quite progressive. Independent, unmarried women, living in community, were trying to help other women, most of whom had had an inadequate education, to learn useful and marketable skills. The sisters and the parish were trying to apply gospel principles within the context of late nineteenth-century social realities.

The Saint Mary’s community remains committed to doing what we can to respond to the needs of our neighbors at this complicated moment in the history of our nation and our city. In the past several years, members, friends, and benefactors of the parish; clergy spouses; the sisters of the Community of Saint John Baptist; the friars of the Society of Saint Francis; staff members; and members of the clergy staff have worked to develop a more active response to our neighbors in need—those without shelter, those with inadequate shelter, and those struggling with legal difficulties, addiction, or physical or mental disabilities.

Brother Thomas Steffensen SSF chanted the second reading on Michaelmas.
Photo: Grace Mudd

As we begin this time of remembrance and celebration, we are offering four classes that will allow us to reflect on the needs of the vulnerable poor in our neighborhood; the challenges—bureaucratic, legal, medical, and economic—faced by those in need in New York and the resources that are available to them—or not; and the theological foundations of the parish’s ministry of service. The final class will give us the opportunity to reflect on what’s been accomplished and what more we might do. Details about these classes follow in the Christian Education paragraph below. The first class will take place this coming Sunday, October 6, at 12:45 PM in the Lady Chapel.

This year, as we look back and remember, let us also seize the opportunity to read the signs of the present times; to find ways to serve others intelligently and productively; to try to look toward the future as “wise serpents and innocent doves”; and, with the Spirit’s help, to attempt to do all this with determination and with hope. —Jay Smith

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Larry, Janice, Brady, Emilie, Joan, Ellie, Pat, Barbara, Ann, Chris, Linda, Gene, Marie, Rita, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, José, John, James, Michael, and Barbara; for John and Jill, PASTORS; 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 soul of Daniel Hollis . . . GRANT THEM PEACE: October 6: 1880 Alden Welling Belknap; 1928 John Ross Grant; 1957 Marie Purnell.

THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.

Candles are placed at the shrines of Our Lady and of Christ the King on feast days. Michaelmas 2019.
Photo: Grace Mudd

THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, October 6, Seventeenth 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 . . . Wednesday, October 9, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Clothing Ministry: Drop-in Day, 2:00–4:00 PM, Mission House . . . Thursday, October 10, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM; . . . Friday, October 11, 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 . . . 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. The parish office is closed.

AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Adult Forum will meet this coming Sunday, and on October 13, 20, and 27, at 12:45 PM in the Lady Chapel. On Sunday, Father Jim Pace, assisted by Mr. John Sheehan, LMSW, director of ecumenical outreach services, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, will present the first of four classes on the challenges faced by those without shelter or inadequate shelter here in New York . . . Dr. Timothy Pyper will play the service of Evensong on Sunday evening, October 6 . . . 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. This Sunday, October 6, there will be a brief Planning Meeting for the Guild Fair. We will meet in Saint Benedict’s Study at 12:30 PM. All interested parties are invited to attend in order to prepare for the fair. The meeting should not take more than a few minutes . . . Flowers are needed for Friday, November 1, All Saints’ Day; 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 . . . Brother Damien and Brother Thomas will be away from the parish between Friday afternoon, October 4, and Wednesday, October 9. They will be in San Francisco for meetings and to attend the West Coast celebration of the centenary of the Society of Saint Francis . . . Father Gerth has been away from the parish this week attending the annual conference of the Society of Catholic Priests and spending a couple of days with family. He returns to the parish on Sunday evening and will be in the office Monday–Wednesday, October 7–9, He will then be away from the parish on vacation October 10–17 . . . Attendance at all Offices and Masses: Last Sunday 169.

ABOUT THE MUSIC ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 . . . We welcome the choir’s return on Sunday morning. Clark Anderson will be the guest organist and music director at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. The musical setting of the Mass this morning is the four-voice Missa Octavi Toni by the Italian Baroque composer Antonio Lotti (1667–1740). Lotti was born in Venice, his father Matteo having been Kappellmeister at Hanover at the time. Lotti’s career took shape at Saint Mark’s, Venice, where he was an alto singer, organist, and eventually maestro di cappella from 1736 until his death four years later. In addition to his well-known church music—Masses and cantatas—Lotti composed madrigals and about thirty operas, some of which were produced in Dresden where he was employed from 1717 to 1719. Lotti’s liturgical compositions retain Renaissance characteristics but also bear evidence of the emerging baroque styles in approach to harmony and functional bass. His Missa Octavi Toni is a setting for four voices and, while polyphonic in construction, may well be more tonal than modal in harmonic conception. It disposes the liturgical text clearly and efficiently.

The organ at the Abbey Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, where André Isoir served as organiste titulaire.

The Communion motet is a choral setting of Salve Regina, the Marian antiphon traditionally sung daily in the interval between Trinity Sunday and the beginning of Advent. It is also by Antonio Lotti and is a setting for four voices. It begins with a hint of a traditional chant incipit for this antiphon, which is then imitated by other voices. Much of the text to follow is set in a homophonic texture with occasional two-voice pairings. —David Hurd

The French organist André Isoir (1935–2016) inspired many with his brilliant recitals and recordings, particularly of J. S. Bach. After winning first prize in both organ and improvisation in 1960 from the Conservatoire de Paris, he went on to win several international organ competitions and served as organiste titulaire at the ancient Abbey Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris from 1973 until his death. Isoir composed only a handful of works himself, and of these just a few were for organ. He wrote his Eight Miniatures originally for his wife Annie over the course of the 1970s. Each piece has the free and playful style of improvisation, with clearly defined characters. Isoir specifies registrations in the first two preludes, creating remarkable tonal palettes perfectly suited to the Saint Mary’s organ. The third prelude, today’s postlude, he leaves to the performer to register, merely noting its Hungarian inspiration. —Clark Anderson

Kehinde Wiley, "Rumors of War" (2019). © 2019 Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Times Square Arts, and Sean Kelly.  Photo:  Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts

Kehinde Wiley, "Rumors of War" (2019). © 2019 Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Times Square Arts, and Sean Kelly. Photo: Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts

AROUND TIMES SQUARE . . . Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977) is a contemporary painter and sculptor with longstanding links to New York City. During President Barack Obama’s second term, Wiley was commissioned to paint the president’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait was unveiled on February 12, 2018, the 209th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. Wiley’s work has been described as follows, “Los Angeles native and New York-based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait-painting tradition. As a contemporary descendant of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and the sublime in his representation of urban, black, and brown men found throughout the world.” Last week, Kehinde Wiley unveiled a new work, entitled Rumors of War, in Times Square, right down the street from Saint Mary’s. Rumors of War—the title refers in part to a series of portraits which Wiley has painted—is a work of public art, a massive equestrian statue in bronze on a limestone pedestal. The sculpture is “Wiley’s direct response to the ubiquitous Confederate sculptures that populate the country, particularly in the South. Standing at just under three stories tall, Wiley’s young, African-American figure is dressed in urban streetwear sitting astride a massive horse in a striking pose reminiscent of statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures.”

During his address at the unveiling, Wiley said, “Honestly, this makes me think more about where this story starts. The story starts with going to Virginia, of course, and seeing the monuments that line the streets. But it’s also about being in this black body. I’m a black man walking those streets, I’m looking up at those things that give me a sense of dread and fear. What does that feel like physically, to walk a public space and to have your state, your country, your nation say ‘this is what we stand by’? No! We want more, we demand more. We creative people create more, and today we say yes to something that looks like us. We say yes to inclusivity, we say yes to broader notions of what it means to be an American.”

Rumors of War will be on view in Times Square for two months. After leaving New York, the statue will be permanently installed in Richmond, Virginia.

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.

San Martin y el mendigo  (c. 1599) by El Greco, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

San Martin y el mendigo (c. 1599) by El Greco, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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.

THANK YOU . . . Because of the vicissitudes of the calendar and the clergy schedule, I have been away from the parish this year for much of September. I am grateful to the rector and my clergy colleagues; to the friars and to the members of the staff; and to Marie Rosseels, chair, of the stewardship committee and to the committee’s other members, all of whom took care of so many things while I was away. E-mail is a mixed blessing, but it allowed us to communicate while I was away. I am grateful to everyone who so patiently worked with me in that way during my time away, while also giving me the space to have some vacation. —Jay Smith

This Week’s Calendar of Services
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