The Angelus


A view of the rose window, organ and the ceiling of the nave from the chancel steps.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF


We have selected a firm to restore the West 46th Street façade of the church. The draft contract was sent to our attorneys for review on Tuesday of this week. I hope that very soon I will be able to announce the contract has been approved and signed. We expect work to begin in the spring, as soon as the weather permits. We expect the work on the façade to be completed this year. I’m very excited.

Although surrounded by tall buildings, some sunlight shines into the church for short periods during the day.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

The sidewalk shed across the 46th Street façade has been with us since Easter Week 2010. For many reasons it has taken time to get to this point. In the meantime, our attorneys are also reviewing a proposal for an accessibility ramp for the 47th Street entrance of the church. There is room to do a ramp without a turn between the 47th Street door and the front door stoop of the rectory. Its design has been under consideration for some time now. As we are a landmarked building, the materials will need to be the same as those of our existing structure. We’re getting close to having another important proposal to put before the parish community.

I’m very conscious that on Monday, December 7, 2020, Saint Mary’s doors will have been open for 150 years. Plan now to keep that Monday evening and the evening of Tuesday, December 8, 2020, free for worship and celebration. One hope I have for 2020 is to commission another architectural survey of existing conditions. Our work on the conservation of our building will continue as long as the parish is here. Smaller jobs are ongoing: an engineering firm is working on a drainage issue in the basement, and we’ve scheduled an evaluation of the three sliding doors between the nave and Saint Joseph’s Hall. Two are unusable. The third could become unusable at any time. Care for our church home is a witness and a ministry. Our church home makes everything else we do possible.

Last year Ash Wednesday was February 14. This year it is March 6. Easter Day is April 21. The paschal candle has arrived—72 inches in length, 3 inches in diameter, 51% beeswax. Actually, two of them have arrived. Last summer I decided I would no longer live with the fear that the candle might be dropped and broken on Easter Eve. Summer is the time when one gets a discount on their price. We will continue to order a new one every summer with the new one always being in reserve. The candle burns by the high altar all through Eastertide. It’s lit before the church opens in the morning and extinguished after the church closes in the evening. It’s a wonderful symbol.

Mary Robison gave a presentation on the Ave archive project on Sunday, February 10.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

I want to commend to you the work done by diocesan historiographer Wayne Kempton, Richard Mammana, who manages the online Anglican history archive Project Canterbury, and parishioner (and librarian) Mary Robison, secretary of the board of trustees, for digitizing Ave and making it available online at Project Canterbury. Ave was the parish magazine between 1932 and 2004. So far almost all of the monthly bulletins from 1932 through 1976 have been posted, but some issues are missing. The current list of missing issues can be found at this link below the picture of the first issue of Ave. Issues can be scanned without damage to the originals, and they will be returned. You will find yourself fascinated by this record of the ongoing life of this parish and its relationship to the wider church.

Finally, I was delighted to realize as I worked on my sermon for last Sunday that in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus doesn’t tell his first disciples that they will become “fishers of men and women,” as he does in Mark and Matthew. Instead, he tells Simon, “from now on you will be catching alive men and women” (Luke 5:10). Saint Mary’s catches us alive in many ways and proclaims that the Christ is the greatest fisher of souls. —Stephen Gerth

The Rector was celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, February 10, 2019.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

A PERSONAL NOTE . . . I won’t be genuflecting, at least for a while. I’ve seen one orthopedic surgeon. I’ve developed arthritis in my right knee. It’s minor, not painful, but it affects my balance. I also have a problem with my right foot and have an appointment with a different orthopedic surgeon who specializes in this area. My religion hasn’t changed. I’m hopeful that a focused exercise program will enable me to genuflect at least at the end of the eucharistic prayer when I can place my hands on to the altar as I go down and come up. Again, not religion, but orthopedics. —S.G.

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Vince, Aiden, Ethelyn, Barbara, Al, Flor, Jonathan, Henry, Lars, Dorothy, Patricia, Dennis, John, Alexandra, Kyle, Carolyn, Ivy, Jondan, Eloise, Michael, Karen, Susan, Marilouise, Carol, May, Takeem, David, Sandy, Abraham; Horace, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Brian Simonsen.

GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 17: 1923 Margaret Elise Salabert; 1936 Howard Irving Johnson, priest; 1983 Helen Peterson Harrington.

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

The proclamation of the gospel in the midst of the congregation at Solemn Mass.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR PLEDGE CARD! . . . If you have not yet completed a pledge card for 2019, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Our needs are urgent. Our mission is clear. We welcome your support, and we are grateful to all those have supported Saint Mary’s so generously in the past . . . Our campaign and pledge drive continues. Once again this year, our goal for the campaign is $425,000. As of February 14, 2019, we have received $360,333.00 in pledges from 111 households, 85% of our goal.

THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, February 17, The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Monday, February 18, Washington’s Birthday (“Presidents’ 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 offices are closed . . . Wednesday, February 20, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Wednesday Night Bible Study Class 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. . . Thursday, February 21, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM . . . Friday, February 22, Centering Prayer 6:30–8:00 PM, Atrium, Parish House, 145 West Forty-sixth Street.

Marie Postlewate chanted the prayers of the people.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

AROUND THE PARISH . . . Vince Amodei, who was part-time bookkeeper here for many years, underwent cardiac surgery this week. Please keep him in your prayers . . . The A&F Steiger Construction Co. was working in the parish house last week, renovating the finance office. They pulled up the old carpeting; sanded and refinished the floor; and scraped, patched, and painted the walls and ceiling. Some clutter has been removed and some re-organizing has taken place. A few pieces of furniture have been purchased. The bulk of the work is now complete and the staff should be able to return to work in the parish office early next week . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish from Friday, February 22, until Wednesday, February 27. He returns to the office on Thursday, February 28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 152.

NEWS OF AN OLD FRIEND . . . R. William Franklin was parishioner here for many years, while he was a member of the faculty of the General Theological Seminary. He then served as the dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was serving on the Board of Trustees when Father Gerth was called as rector in 1998. Having discerned a vocation to the ordained ministry, he was priested in 2005 and was elected bishop of Western New York in November 2010. He was ordained and consecrated the eleventh bishop of Western New York in April 2011. Born in 1947 and now seventy-two years old, Bishop Franklin has announced that he will retire in April 2019. Bishop Franklin worked hard and well in Western New York. He developed a good working relationship with the Roman Catholic bishop of Buffalo and helped to create a new, and developing, partnership with the diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. The bishop of that diocese, the Right Reverend Sean Rowe, has been elected bishop provisional of the diocese of Western New York for a five-year term, which will begin upon Bishop Franklin’s retirement. During that time the two dioceses will share not only a bishop but also a staff “as they explore a deeper relationship focused on creating new opportunities for mission.” After his retirement, Bishop Franklin will serve as an assisting bishop in the diocese of Long Island, teach a course at the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, and continue to serve as vice-chair of the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church and as chair of the Episcopal Church’s Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work. We are pleased to learn that Bishop Franklin is returning to the metropolitan area, and we wish him, and his wife, Professor Carmela Vircillo, well in all their future endeavors.

The congregation sings a hymn as the gifts are brought forward.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The musical setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa “Il me suffit” by Orlando di Lasso (c. 1530–1594). Lassus, as he was also known, was one of the most prolific and admired European composers of his time. Born at Mons in the Franco-Flemish province of Hainaut, Lassus was well traveled, particularly in northern Italy, but was centered in Munich for much of his adult life. His compositions include about sixty authenticated Mass settings, most of which are elaborate parody works based upon motets, often his own, as well as French chansons and Italian madrigals from such composers as Gombert, Willaert, Resta, Arcadelt, Rore, and Palestrina. Missa “Il me suffit” is based upon a French chanson by Claudin de Sermisy (c. 1490–1562), a notable composer both of sacred and secular music, who may have been a student of Josquin des Prez (c. 1450–1521) and was a singer in the Royal Chapel of Louis XII. Lassus’s Mass, based upon on Sermisy’s chanson, is a reasonably concise setting for four voices. The opening phrase of Sermisy’s chanson is clearly represented in the soprano voice of Lassus’ Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

Sunday’s Communion motet is Os justi meditabitur by Anton Bruckner (1824–1896). Bruckner was born in Ansfelden, now a suburb of Linz, and was the eldest of eleven children. He took to the organ at an early age, his father being his first music teacher. In 1837, he became a choirboy at the Augustinian monastery in Sankt Florian where his music studies also included violin lessons. He later returned to Sankt Florian as teacher and organist for several years before assuming teaching positions in Vienna beginning in 1868. Known especially today for his massive symphonies and large-scaled choral works, Bruckner’s more modest works include four settings of Graduals for unaccompanied choir. Os justi is one of these, the other three being Locus iste, Christus factus est and Virga Jesse. The text of Os justi is Psalm 37:32–33. The music is in Lydian mode, centered on F but with neither sharps nor flats throughout. Opening quietly in four voices, the choral texture of the motet dramatically expands to eight parts and then thins again to the original four voices. A section of imitative counterpoint carries the text “and his tongue speaks what is right” after which verse 33 reprises the music of the opening section. A final Alleluia in unison chant concludes the motet.

Incense is offered from the preparation of the gifts through the invitation to the congregation to come forward to receive Communion.
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

Sunday’s organ prelude is the Prelude and Fugue in A minor of Johannes Brahms (1833–1897). Until the death of Johann Sebastian Bach, there was an undisputed link between the organ and “great” musicians who played it and composed for it. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, most of the “great pillars” of Western musical art had turned their energies away from the organ and toward the orchestra and piano. As a result, the organ compositions of Johannes Brahms, although numerically modest, figure significantly seen against the backdrop of a relatively barren time for organ music. Brahms composed two Preludes & Fugues for organ while he was still in his twenties. These remained unpublished until 1927. The Prelude & Fugue in A minor begins as a dialogue between two voices which soon picks up harmonic elements and eventually combines the original theme with a foreshadowing of the fugue subject. The fugue falls neatly into three sections. A feature of the exposition is the extensive use of two against three rhythm. Following the second section which is played without pedals, the final section reintroduces the pedals, playing the subject in augmentation with itself in original rhythm in another voice. The counterpoint soon becomes more harmonically driven, and elements from the Prelude reappear in the mix. The postlude will be improvised. —David Hurd

CONCERT AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, February 16, 8:00 PM, The Miller Theater at Columbia University presents New York Polyphony. From the theater website: “The four voices of the celebrated ensemble New York Polyphony return to take audiences on a journey over the Alps to explore the Flemish composers who traversed the mountains to work in Italy. Encompassing works by well-known composers Orlande de Lassus and Palestrina, alongside gems by Philippe Verdelot, Cipriano de Rore, and others, the rich and varied program highlights the flourishing of the polyphonic style in the region.” The members of this very fine ensemble are good and faithful friends of this parish. One was married here, another remains a parishioner. It is a pleasure to be able to welcome all of these good friends back to Saint Mary’s.

Polychromed Statue of Our Lady of Mercy (1924), by Lee Lawrie (1877-1963).
Photo by Damien Joseph SSF

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, February 17 and 24, Father Borja Vilallonga will lead the class in a discussion of his doctoral research done at the Sorbonne. Father Vilallonga was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church and is now a priest in the Old Catholic Church, which is in full communion with the Episcopal Church. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, working with Prof. Carmela Vircillo, a great friend of Saint Mary’s, who recommended us to Father Vilallonga. His research is centered on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European Christianity—the Oxford Movement, Gallicanism, early liturgical reform, Pius IX, the First Vatican Council, and the transformation of Roman Catholicism between Vatican I and Vatican II . . . On the six Sundays of Lent—March 10–April 14— Father Peter Powell will resume his series on the Elijah/Elisha cycle in 1 Kings 16:23–2 Kings 13:25 . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, led by Father Jay Smith, met on February 13 at 6:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. The class will continue its reading of the Letter of Jude.

OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The winter continues to get colder, and we have many requests from unsheltered neighbors for thermal underwear. When you spend many hours outdoors each day, often sitting or sleeping on concrete, dangerous loss of body heat is a constant risk. Donations of thermals such as these, available on Amazon, could literally be a lifesaver. These and other items may be dropped off at the church or shipped directly to the parish office, to my attention. Please note that while we accept gently used items of many kinds, we can only accept new underwear and socks. As always, your monetary contributions will allow us to order items to keep up with changing needs. —Damien Joseph SSF

HOSPITALITY MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We hope to receive donations to help pay for the holy-day receptions on March 25 (Annunciation), April 20 (Easter Eve), and Thursday, May 30 (Ascension Day). If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office. The total cost of each reception is around $500.00. We appreciate all donations in support of this important ministry. Any and all donations are always used to make up the deficit each year we normally experience in the hospitality budget. When making a donation, please make a note that it is for the Hospitality Ministry, and we thank you.

AROUND TOWN . . . At the Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn Heights (accessible via the 2 or 3, and the A or the C trains), Book Talk: Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation,” Tuesday, February 19, 6:30 PM. $5 (free for members). From the society’s website, “Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous legal case that upheld the racist notion of “separate but equal,” codified segregation and launched one of our county’s most depraved chapters. Long-time senior editor at The Washington Post, Steve Luxenberg, examines the social upheaval that gave rise to Plessy, and looks at those who supported the ruling and championed its dissent.” . . . Book Talk: “Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence,” Tuesday, February 26, 6:30 PM. $5 (free for members). From the society’s website, “Kellie Jackson, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, examines the political and social tensions preceding the American Civil War and the conditions and that led some black abolitionists to believe that slavery might only be abolished by violence.” . . . At John Jay College, New Building, 524 W. 59th Street, Monday, March 4, 1:30–2:40 PM, “African-American Women Organizers and Educators Who Changed the Position of Women in Color in America.” Presentations by John Jay students. Parishioner Angeline Butler is an adjunct professor in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay.

CLICK HERE for this week’s schedule.

CLICK HERE for the full parish calendar.