FROM THE RECTOR: CORPUS CHRISTI 2019
During the Middle Ages in the Christian West, lay people attended the Eucharist but received Communion very infrequently, usually only at Easter. The feast of Corpus Christi developed in this context as seeing —not eating —the Eucharistic Bread became the focus of devotion and blessing in the thirteenth century (Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year , 169-74). Somehow, the Anglo-Catholic revival, which brought so much renewal to so many areas of Anglican tradition, latched on to this medieval development that was unknown to the early church: Masses where Communion would not be received by anyone but the celebrant. On Sunday, May 5, 1965, Saint Mary's new rector, Father Donald Garfield (1924-1996; rector 1965-1978) offered communion to everyone at the main Sunday service, Solemn Mass, for the first time. It marked a new beginning of our common life and witness.
The Prayer Book has a section called "Various Occasions" (pages 251-261). One of those occasions is entitled "Of the Holy Eucharist," and a collect and lessons are provided there for parishes that wish to keep Corpus Christi. The Old Testament lesson and gospel are invariable.
Remember that in Lectionary Year B we take four Sundays away from Mark to hear John's discourse on the Bread of Life (John 6:16 -71). In 2012 we began to use the gospel lessons from the Roman Catholic Lectionary for Corpus Christi. It provides John 6:51-58 in Year A. In Year B the gospel lesson is Mark's Last Supper (14:12-16, 22-29 —omitting words about the betrayer). In Year C the appointed gospel lesson in the Roman church's lectionary is Luke 9:11b-17, the Feeding of the Five Thousand.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle from Jesus' public ministry that appears in all four gospels. I think the most interesting account of the Last Supper is Luke 22:14-30. The Prayer Book provides it as an alternative on Maundy Thursday to John's account of the washing of feet (13:1-15). Luke's Last Supper is never appointed to be read other than on Maundy Thursday, not even on a weekday! I'm going to write my first sermon on it for Sunday.
In Luke there are two cups, one before the bread and one after. Before sharing the first cup, Luke's Jesus said, " 'I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, 'Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes' " (22:15-18). Then it's on to giving thanks, breaking, and sharing the bread, "Do this in my remembrance" (Paul Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins , 8). Then after supper, the second cup: "This cup [is] the new covenant in my blood, which [is] poured out for you" (Ibid.). Matthew and Mark share with Luke this focus on the heavenly banquet. It's from Paul that we "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
We are far away from the meals first-century Christians shared and from the Saturday meals Jewish Christians would continue until the fourth century. The transition from meal to rite, where only a small token of bread and wine would be received, and from Saturday to Sunday begins in the second century. In some places the meal would be about Jesus' death, later about waiting for his return. In the centuries of persecution, the Eucharist was about "feeding on the life-giving Jesus" (Paul Bradshaw, "The Eucharistic Sayings of Jesus," Studia Liturgica 35 (2005), 11). The Sunday Eucharist remains foundational for us. I hope many can be with us for Corpus Christi. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Jessica, David, Barbara, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Susan, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, Michael, Robert, and Abraham; for Horace, John David, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; for James, bishop; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Michael Whalley, priest.
GRANT THEM PEACE: June 30: 1887 James Dorrington; 1913 Stephen Price Simpson; 1926 Beulah Field Wood; 1927 Margaret Crawford Bates.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Michael Whalley, the father of Simon Whalley, former music director at Saint Mary's, died on June 14, at a care facility near his home in Lincoln, United Kingdom, after a long illness. Father Whalley was a priest of the Church of England. Please keep Michael, Simon, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE RIGHT REVEREND JAMES WINCHESTER MONTGOMERY, IX Bishop of Chicago, is gravely ill. Bishop Jeffrey Lee, the bishop of Chicago tells me, "He's chipper as ever, though quite weak." Please remember Bishop Montgomery in your prayers. He sent me to seminary from the diocese of Chicago in 1980. Father Edgar Wells was a priest in his diocese when Father Wells was called to be rector of Saint Mary's in 1979. It was Bishop Montgomery who gave my name to Saint Mary's Rector Search Committee in 1998. He has been a special friend of this parish community for decades. He is widely loved and known for his faithful service to the gospel and to the Episcopal Church. —S.G.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
A SOLEMN TE DEUM was sung at the Solemn Mass on Trinity Sunday. A video was made and has been posted on the parish's Facebook page.
THE SUMMER SUNDAY WORSHIP SCHEDULE BEGINS on the afternoon of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 23. From this afternoon, this year, the Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Evening Prayer will be read at 5:00 PM and on Sunday mornings, beginning on June 30, Morning Prayer will be read. Sung Morning Prayer and Solemn Evensong on Sundays begin again on October 6, 2019.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, June 23, The Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass, Procession to Times Square, and Eucharistic Benediction 11:00 AM; Evening Prayer 5:00 PM . . . Monday, June 24, Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, June 26, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Ministry to the Homeless: Grab and Go, 2:00 --- 4:00 PM, Narthex . . . Thursday, June 27, 12:10 PM, Mass with Healing Service . . . Friday, June 28, Eve of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM; Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor . . . Saturday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Philippe Corbé, who worships with us most Sundays, was married in Texas on June 1. He and his husband, Javier Céspedes, were featured in the Vows section of the New York Times on June 14, 2019. The article, with its accompanying photos, can be accessed on the Times website . . . Brother Desmond Alban SSF, minister provincial of the Society of Saint Francis, Province of the Americas, will be visiting Saint Mary's, July 1-8, and will be staying with the brothers in the friary in the Mission House . . . Happy Anniversary to Father Jim Pace who was ordained deacon on June 25, 1988, in the diocese of Tennessee. Since 2015, he has been a priest of the diocese of New York, for which we are very thankful . . . Father Matt Jacobson will be away from the parish beginning Sunday afternoon, June 23. He returns to us in August . . . Attendance: Trinity Sunday 189.
LIFE IN TIMES SQUARE . . . On Sunday evening, June 23, after Saint Mary's has closed its doors for the day, famous aerialists Nik and Lijana Wallenda plan to walk 1,300 feet (396 meters) across Times Square in an event that has been six years in the making. The highly anticipated event will be televised live on ABC, beginning at 8:00 PM. Ms. Wallenda was seriously injured in a high wire stunt in 2017, so tensions are high. Please keep her and her brother in your prayers. You can read more about this event in an article in the New York Times.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Jean Langlais (1907-1991) was one of several notable twentieth-century organist-composers to have been strongly associated with prominent Paris churches. In Langlais's case, the church was the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde where in 1945 he followed in the footsteps of César Franck (1822-1890) and Charles Tournemire (1870-1939) being named organiste titulaire, a title he retained until 1988. Langlais, who lost his sight to glaucoma at age two, began organ study with André Marchal (1894-1980), a prominent Paris organist and teacher who was also blind. He later was a prize-winning student at the Paris Conservatory where his studies included composition with Paul Dukas (1865-1935) and Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). Langlais also had a distinguished teaching career at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he taught from 1961 to 1976. In addition he toured widely in Europe and the United States as a concert organist and composed extensively for the organ. His choral and organ compositions frequently have chant references or other neo-medieval characteristics. Langlais's Messe en style ancien, Opus 75, dates from 1952 and was scored for mixed choir of four voices with or without organ. The Gloria of this setting declaims the text with great clarity; voice parts singing syllables in rhythmic unison throughout in chordal fashion. In contrast, the voices enter individually and move more independently in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei of this Mass. The harmonic palette is restrained throughout, reflecting the modal character of earlier choral music, yet Langlais's setting is clearly a work of his time and place.
The motet following the Communion at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Verily, verily I say unto you, a setting of John 6:53-56 by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). Tallis was one of the most foundational composers of English church music. His long life and musical career included service under four English monarchs-Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I-with all the shifts in the church's liturgical and institutional life which these different reigns occasioned. Along with William Byrd (c. 1539-1623), Tallis enjoyed an exclusive license to print and publish music which was granted by Elizabeth I in 1575. He was one of the first musicians to compose for the new Anglican rites of the mid-sixteenth century. The preferred style of the time tended toward less florid liturgical music which favored clear text declamation. Tallis' Verily, verily models this restraint and desire for clarity.
The French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé (1902- 1986) was steeped in liturgical chant from his childhood as a chorister at the Rouen Cathedral Choir School. He first entered the Paris Conservatory in 1920, becoming professor of harmony in 1943, a position he retained for nearly thirty years. He is remembered for his lifelong association with the stunningly beautiful church of St. Étienne-du-Mont, Paris, where he was named titular organist in 1929. The fourth of his Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens (1960) is his setting of Tantum ergo, the final two stanzas of the Eucharistic Hymn Pange lingua, the text of which is attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274). In his setting, Duruflé quotes the familiar Pange lingua chant melody in the soprano voice and provides elegant harmonic support from three other voices in identical music for both stanzas.
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) is widely regarded as one of the most original voices among twentieth-century composers for the organ. Born in Avignon, son of the poetess Cécile Sauvage, he was a student of Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory where he became professor of musical analysis, philosophy, and aesthetics in 1942. His legendary tenure as titular organist of Trinité, Paris, began in 1931. The brilliant light and vivid colors of this magnificent church proved a defining stimulus to Messiaen's musical imagination for sixty years. Messiaen's Le Banquet Céleste ("The Celestial Banquet"), played for the prelude on Sunday, is one of his early organ compositions, dating from 1928 and based upon a movement of an unfinished orchestral work. It bears the quotation "Celui qui mange ma chair et boit mon sang demeure en moi et moi en lui" ("Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in them") (John 6:56). Its slow movement and reflective mood are suggestive of the timeless expanse of the heavenly meal. —David Hurd
2019 NYC WORLDPRIDE - STONEWALL 50 MARCH, Sunday, June 30, 2019, 11:00 AM-11:00 PM. In order to march with diocesan groups: check in for Episcopalians is at 4:00 PM. Formation Block: 32nd Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue. Section Number: 8. Order Number: 29. For fully updated information check the Committee's Facebook page.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place on Wednesday, July 17, 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 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 make a donation of cash, clothing, or toiletry articles, or to volunteer for this important ministry . . . 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.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Metropolitan Museum, Fifth Avenue and East Eighty-second Street, The Decorated Word: Writing and Picturing in Islamic Calligraphy, April 8-November 3, 2019. From the museum website, "Calligraphy is a key achievement of Islamic civilization and arguably the most characteristic expression of the Islamic spirit. Throughout the Islamic world, calligraphy embellishes the surfaces of objects large and small —from architecture to items of daily use —in styles that range from the elegant, refined, and eminently readable to the decorative, abstract, and barely legible. No other culture has explored the decorative and creative possibilities of the written word as extensively. This exhibition examines the interplay between writing and picturing in Islamic calligraphy and explores the inherent tension between textual design, decoration, readability, and verbal clarity in some four dozen examples of Islamic calligraphy from The Met collection. These works, created between the ninth century and the present, include works on paper and parchment; ceramics; metalwork and coins; and a carpet. The presentation includes a selection of modern and contemporary works by artists from Iran and Pakistan who use the written word as their primary mode of artistic expression."