FROM THE RECTOR: ON WAITING
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ Ascension, forty days after his resurrection, the Risen Jesus tells his apostles, “Before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5b). But they did not know how long that wait would be. In Acts, the gathered community waited a full ten days before the Holy Spirit “came upon” them. With respect, the Holy Spirit moved, and still moves, much faster than does New York City’s process for granting construction permits. The goal of this process is positive and much to be desired: to assure that everything is done safely. Still, the wheels of the bureaucracy move slowly, and, inevitably, there are delays.
Our contractor, Milan Restoration, working with our architects, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates (JHP), and our engineers, Old Structures Engineering, are close to completing the complex process that will allow them to install scaffolding on the Forty-sixth Street side of the church. Once the scaffolding is in place, the first phase of construction can begin. This process has been underway since contracts were signed on March 22, 2019. I am glad that our contractor, architects, and engineers are being careful. Still, a great deal of patience has been required. I’m still a fan of a blues/pop song that came out while I was serving in Baton Rouge, Steve Winwood’s hit “Roll With It.” (At the time, the blues bar setting of the song’s music video sure seemed like Louisiana to me, but it turns out Winwood had married a woman from Tennessee. Memphis and Nashville get the credit.) It now seems clear that the façade project will not be completed until spring 2020. For the moment, Winwood’s “Roll With It” is my theme song for the project.
Board of Trustees members MaryJane Boland, Clark Mitchell, and I have been meeting weekly with Milan and JHP here at the church. These meetings will continue until colder weather shuts the project down in fall or early winter 2019. These meetings began on Thursday, May 16. The three of us had a couple of minutes together after the June 6 meeting. We are enthusiastic and excited about the firms and the people who are working for us.
In the meantime, my thoughts turn daily to the message of Easter, the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Pentecost Sunday evening the paschal candle will be extinguished after Evensong & Benediction and moved from its place by the high altar to the baptistry. The abundance of alleluias in the services will end. Between now and Easter Eve, April 11, 2020, we will sing Easter hymns only for the burial of the dead.
I was deeply moved this week by the commemorations of June 6, 1944, in the United Kingdom and in France. Neither my brother nor I served in the military, but our father did during the Korean War. My sister, brother, and I descend from families that fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and both World Wars—and perhaps others as my genealogical work continues from time to time. June 6, 1932, was our dad’s birthday. He died in 2015, my mother in 2013. I miss my parents a great deal. Though I treasure the Prayer Book burial rites, I find it maddening that the church omitted the article “the” in the opening sentence of Rite II. They’re in the Greek New Testament. In the future, they are going back in at all funerals while I’m rector. Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and I am the life.” I believe in the life of the world to come with those we love. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ruben, Emil, Grady, Barbara, Francis, Rita, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Donald, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Susan, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Michael, Takeem, Carmen, and Abraham; and Horace, Rick, Gaylord, Louis, and Edgar, priests; and all the benefactors and friends of this parish.
GRANT THEM PEACE: June 9: 1917 Gardner Van Reed; 1939 Louise Unsold; 1952 Roy Whitson Lay.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, June 9, the Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday, Sung Matins 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Tuesday, June 11, Saint Barnabas the Apostle: Mass 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, June 12, Sung Mass 12:10 PM . . . Thursday, June 13, 12:10 PM, Mass with Healing Service . . . Friday, June 14, Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor.
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.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, June 1, at 1:30 PM, Shayleigh Katherine Dickson and Richard Thomas Page were married in the church. Please keep them in your prayers . . . On Wednesday, June 5, the members of the Wednesday Night Bible Study Class gathered in Saint Benedict’s Study for their end-of-year dinner. Indian food was on the menu. The event was organized by Marie Rosseels, with assistance from Brother Thomas SSF. Father Jay Smith is grateful to them and to all those who gathered this year, week after week, to study, to listen, to share, and to learn . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following dates: August 15 (Assumption), all of the Sundays in August, and September 1, 8, and 22 . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish beginning on Thursday evening, June 13, until the morning of Monday, June 17. He returns to the office on Monday afternoon. He will be attending his fiftieth high-school reunion in Buffalo, New York . . . Brother Thomas Steffensen SSF will be away from the parish from Monday, June 10, until Wednesday, July 31. He will be in Michigan working on a project with and for the Diocese of Upper Michigan . . . The Rector will be away from Tuesday, June 11. He returns Saturday evening, June 15 . . . Attendance: Visitation 52; Last Sunday 179.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is the Mass in the Phrygian Mode by Rick Austill (1955–2019). Rick Austill was a faithful parishioner here at Saint Mary’s until his unexpected death on Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019. He served with distinction as a member of the Flower Guild whose work praises God in visual beauty week after week at Saint Mary’s. Rick was a 1977 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he earned a Fine Arts degree in piano performance as a student of Nelson Whittaker, and in composition as a student of Roland Leich. Rick worked extensively as a dance accompanist and held positions at Carnegie Mellon, the Pittsburgh Ballet, the Washington Ballet, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Rick composed his Mass in the Phrygian Mode for Saint Mary’s in 2012, and it was premiered here in November of that year. It is scored for unaccompanied mixed voices, including solos and some divisi, and it uses the Rite II Eucharistic texts. Each of the movements of Austill’s Mass contains a mixture of exactly noted music and aleatoric elements. In explanation, Austill wrote the following: “Aleatoric, in this setting, means individual voices enter at uneven times determined solely by the conductor. In the glorious acoustics of Saint Mary’s, it creates a ‘cloud’ of sound hopefully like the clouds of angels praising God. It’s in the third church mode which I feel has a particularly haunting quality.” Although this setting has been sung several times at Saint Mary’s since its 2012 premiere, its aleatoric sections make each performance a unique first. The second chapter of Acts describes the apostles’ experience of the Day of Pentecost as a rushing wind and a surprisingly random, yet mysteriously intelligible, simultaneity of voices. As such, Rick Austill’s Mass in the Phrygian Mode may be particularly appropriate for today’s celebration.
The Communion motet on Sunday is by Tomás Luís de Victoria (1548–1611), widely considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Born in Avila, the seventh of eleven children, he began his musical education as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral and began his classical education at San Gil, a Jesuit school for boys founded in 1554. By 1565 Victoria had entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, where he was later engaged to teach music and was eventually named maestro di cappella. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525–1594) who was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romano at that time. 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. Victoria’s five-voice motet Dum complerentur was first published in his first book of motets in 1572. Its text derives from the Pentecost narrative in the second chapter of Acts, and occurs as an antiphon for Pentecost Vespers.
Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986) distinguished himself as organist, teacher, and titular organist at the church of St. Etienne-du-Mont from 1930 until his death. He is well remembered for his relatively small number of compositions, which are works of remarkable distinctiveness and refinement. Duruflé brought to the organ the colors and flavors of impressionism, which were so well represented in the larger world of French music through the compositions of such composers as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Duruflé’s Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié, Opus 4, is a work of symphonic proportion which ends with several variations on the Holy Spirit hymn Veni Creator. The theme and first three variations will be played as the prelude this morning, and the fourth and final variation, which develops the plainsong hymn melody in a stirring crescendo, will be played as the postlude. —David Hurd
A PRIDE MONTH EVENT . . . Monday, June 10, 2019, 7:30 PM, San Damiano Hall at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, 135 West Thirty-first Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues: Lecture by Father James Martin, S.J., “Welcome: Showing Respect and Welcome in the Church to LGBTQ People”. From the parish’s website, “Jesus broke down barriers between people and proclaimed the Father’s love for all. He erased the divisions between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, and even male and female (Galatians 3:28). Is the Church prepared to follow the Lord’s lead and continue to break down the barriers that divide God’s children today? During this month that our society celebrates the life and dignity of LBGTQ people, we gather to consider how we can, and must, do better to welcome and respect all of God’s children. This event is free and open to the public. Father Martin will be signing books at the end of the event.” James Martin is the author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity (2017).
AN INVITATION FROM SAINT THOMAS, FIFTH AVENUE . . . A New York Lamentation is a play that will be performed in the nave and choir of Saint Thomas Church at 4:00 PM on Sunday, June 16, 2019. This production brings to life the tragic history of slavery that existed in New York City and the Hudson Valley for more than 200 years. The characters in the play are real historical figures from the nineteenth century, including slaves, slave owners, clergy, and abolitionists of this region. A New York Lamentation is an initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, which is tasked with addressing the legacy of slavery and its ongoing impact on our society and our Church. A New York Lamentation was written by an Episcopal priest, the Reverend Chuck Kramer, rector of Saint James Episcopal Church, Hyde Park. The play will be directed by Jeannine Otis, a musician, actress, playwright, director and author. She is also the musical director for St. Mark’s in the Bowery in Manhattan. Performance is free. Donation requested.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place on Wednesday, June 19, 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 non-perishable 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.
COMING UP . . . Sunday, June 16, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 23, The Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi . . . Monday, June 24, The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist . . . Friday, June 28, Eve of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles . . . Sunday, June 30, The Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8) . . . Sunday, June 30, NYC Pride March. Step-off is at noon at Fifth Avenue and Twenty-sixth Street.
HOSPITALITY MINISTRY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We hope to receive donations to help pay for the holy-day receptions on Thursday, August 15 (Assumption) and Friday, November 1. 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.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the New-York Historical Society, Central Park West and Seventy-seventh Street, a set of exhibitions to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. From the Society’s website, “[The Society] commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the dawn of the gay liberation movement this summer, as New York City welcomes WorldPride, the largest Pride celebration in the world. Stonewall 50 at the New-York Historical Society features two exhibitions and a special installation, as well as public programs for all ages. Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBTQ Nightlife Before and After Stonewall highlights the ways in which nightlife has been critical in shaping LGBTQ identity, building community, developing political awareness, and fostering genres of creative expression that have influenced popular culture worldwide. Serving as oases of expression, resilience, and resistance, LGBTQ bars, clubs, and nightlife spaces were hard-won in the face of policing, unfavorable public policies, and Mafia control. The exhibition begins with gay bars in the 1950s and 1960s continues through the rise of the gay liberation movement and the emergence of LGBTQ clubs as places of community activism.
“By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives, curated by the Lesbian Herstory Archives Graphics Committee, highlights community-building, organization, and networking within the LGBTQ movement with a focus on the contributions of lesbians and queer women. A grassroots organization established in 1974 in response to the widespread erasure of lesbian lives and voices, the Lesbian Herstory Archives houses the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians. The exhibition features photographs, books and manuscripts, periodicals, posters, zines, flyers, and clothes.
“A special installation, Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride, features imagery from New York City Pride marches and other LGBTQ protests from the 1960s to the present day, as well as a timeline of milestones and objects from LGBTQ history.”
These exhibitions can be viewed at the New-York Historical Society until September 22, 2019.