The Angelus


The Chapel Choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, UK, sang Missa Secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1564 --- 1612) and Beatus vir qui non abiit, a four-voice setting of Psalm 1:1 --- 3 from Hassler's Cantiones sacrae of 1591, at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, September 8, 2019.
Photo: Grace Mudd


In last Sunday’s Angelus, while commenting on some of the feasts we celebrated in September, I wrote: “There is one traditional commemoration of Mary still omitted by our Episcopal Church, but one which has found a home in the Church of England and other churches of the Anglican Communion, the Nativity of Mary on September 8.” But it turns out that this is incorrect. Two readers of The Angelus were in touch with me, Father William D. Loring, a now-retired priest of the diocese of Connecticut, and our own Father Matt Jacobson. Both knew that the last meeting of the General Convention had authorized a new optional resource for weekday Eucharists, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (LFF 2018). 

LFF 2018 is in the process of being printed. It’s scheduled to be out in January 2020. The Journal of the General Convention 2018 is online. A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), another resource is available at the same link. If I have followed the Journal correctly, September 8 is a commemoration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in LFF 2018. Although the commemoration for July 26 in the current calendar of the Prayer Book and in LFF 2006 (the last revision) is for “The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” the Parents will not be in LFF 2018. It has been moved to A Great Cloud of Witnesses. Another commemoration has taken its place.  

The thurible is charged before the proclamation of the gospel.
Photo: Grace Mudd

I am a regular reader of The Orb, the weekly bulletin from the Church of the Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco. Father Paul Allick is the rector. This week he writes about what he calls elephants in the room, as it were, of the Episcopal Church. He writes, “How does one keep silent about a fifty percent drop in infant baptisms since 1980? How about a seventy-five percent drop in weddings in the same time period? Ironically, the 1979 Prayer Book is all about baptismal theology, and Episcopalians have been debating the definition of marriage for over a decade. We are talking a lot about baptism and matrimony. We just aren’t doing much of it. Something, my friends, is askew.” In the meantime, the number of ordained persons keeps growing. We now have more than 18,000 members of the clergy.  

Our Episcopal Church continues to decline in numbers. Last summer, the Reverend Dr. David Goodhew, in The Living Church, August 30, 1918, wrote: “Data on congregation size and congregational closures suggest that the long-term aging of the church continues, as do its deleterious effects. It is striking that the percentage of congregations with big falls in Average Sunday Attendance in the last five years has significantly risen (from 52% to 57%), while the percentage of congregations growing markedly in the last five years has fallen (from 19% to 15%). This suggests much faster action is needed both to start new congregations and rescue those that are shrinking.”  

The Episcopal Church had one Prayer Book from 1789 until 1892—and it grew in spite of the many problems its rigid rules made for worship, not to mention the theological struggle between evangelical and high church Episcopalians in the same period. I may be wrong, but I don’t think there has been a three-year period since 1979 when there hasn’t been some kind of “trial use” authorized by a General Convention. In 2000, the Episcopal Church counted 2,329,045 baptized members and average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 856,579. In 2017, the number of baptized had dropped to 1,712.563, ASA was 556,744. I don’t think we need new books, new commemorations. I think we might try to make more use of what we already have. —Stephen Gerth 

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Janice, Brady, Emilie, Joan, Ellie, Chris, Linda, Gene, Marie, Jon, Rita, Pat, John, Esther, Bryan, Dianna, Beulah, Cyrisse, Wendell, May, Willard, Alexandra, Karen, Carolyn, Ivy, Marilouise, Takeem, Carmen, Michael, and Dennis; for Horace, Kent, Gene, Gaylord, Louis, Edgar, priests, and James, bishop; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the souls of George Ballard and Mia Hoffman . . . GRANT THEM PEACE: September 15: 1899 Harold Bertrand Recouse; 1924 Robert Giles; 1927 George Albert Moses; 1929 Adele Matthiessen Blow; 1952 Maximillian T. Lenk; 1952 Charles Mason, Jr. 

The concluding collect of the prayers of the people has just been prayed by the celebrant.
Photo: Grace Mudd

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

EPISCOPAL RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT is the outreach arm of the Episcopal Church. The news from the devastation in the Bahamas continues to come in slowly. You can donate to Hurricane Relief on their website at this link. I have made a donation, and I invite you to do so as you are able. —S.G. 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BAPTIZED OR CONFIRMED? . . . The Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche, the bishop of New York, will be the celebrant and preacher for our patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on Monday, December 9, at 6:00 PM. If you have been thinking about baptism, confirmation, or about being received into the Episcopal Church, we would be glad to help. If you would like to be baptized, confirmed, or received on December 9, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith or call the Parish Office. 

THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, September 15, The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Summer Worship Schedule: Morning Prayer 8:30 AM; Mass 9:00 & 10:00 AM; Solemn Mass 11:00 AM; Evening Prayer 5:00 PM . . . Wednesday, September 18, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Clothing Ministry: Drop-in Day, 2:00–4:00 PM, Mission House . . . Thursday, September 19, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM . . . Friday, September 20, Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Atrium in the Parish House, Second Floor . . . Saturday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. 

46TH STREET FAÇADE RESTORATION . . . The good news is that Nicole Ambrose, architectural designer at Jan Hird Pokorny Associates (JHP), was able (finally!) to get the information she needed from an expediter about the required documents for the work permit to be approved. Nicole is knowledgabele, efficient and detail-oriented. She was part of the JHP team that  replaced the rectory roof. Once our application is complete, another ten-day wait is required while the neighboring buildings are notified by certified mail about the permit. —S.G. 

A young communicant during the sermon. Carried in her mother's arm, she came to the altar rail with her hand stretched out to receive the Bread.
Photo: Grace Mudd

AROUND THE PARISH . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on vacation between Sunday, September 8, and Sunday, September 29. He will also be in Boston between Monday, September 30, and Wednesday, October 2, attending a Leadership in Ministry Conference. He then returns to the parish on Thursday, October 3 . . . Attendance at the Masses and Offices of the day: Last Sunday 201; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 54. 

FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The cantor for Sunday’s Solemn Mass is soprano Sharon Harms, a regular member of the Choir of Saint Mary’s. During the Communion she will sing Amour Oiseau d’Étoile by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Messiaen is widely regarded as one of the most original voices among French twentieth-century composers. 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. Amour Oiseau d’Étoile is the tenth of the twelve songs which comprise Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi which he completed in 1945. The cycle’s title is named for a love-song genre of Andean music. It was composed for soprano and piano. The text of Harawi, of which Messiaen is the author, has been described as surrealist. In addition to French text, Messiaen has also used words from indigenous South American language explicitly for their sonic character. Amour Oiseau d’Étoile, text entirely in French, is a placid and reflective song. It hovers gently in an atmosphere of F-sharp Major while the piano offers commentary to the soprano’s sung phrases in mimicked bird song.  

The organ voluntaries on Sunday are also of French origin and were composed by one of Olivier Messiaen’s teachers. Marcel Dupré, their composer, was a pupil of Louis Vierne and Charles-Marie Widor at the Paris Conservatory. He finally succeeded Widor as organist of St. Sulpice in 1934, by which time he had also been named Professor of Organ at the Conservatory. In his long and brilliant career Dupré distinguished himself internationally as a concert organist, improvisateur, teacher, scholar, composer and church musician. The pieces played for the Prelude and Postlude are both founded on Antiphons taken from the Song of Solomon, 7:6 and 1:12 respectively. These are two of the Fifteen Pieces of his Opus 18, premiered by Dupré on 9 December 1920 in a performance with choir in his English debut recital at the Royal Albert Hall. This same collection of pieces was famously recorded here at Saint Mary’s in 1970 by McNeil Robinson (1943–2015) who was organist at Saint Mary’s from 1965 until 1982. —David Hurd 

Dr. Mark Risinger (center), an alumnus of the Chapel Choir of Emmanuel College and vice-president of Saint Mary's Board of Trustees, speaks with choristers at coffee following the Eucharist.
Photo: Grace Mudd

OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place this coming Wednesday, September 18, 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 special need at the moment for women’s underwear, including brassieres, in a variety of sizes, boxer shorts and briefs for men in a variety of sizes, white and black socks for men, disposable razors, and sneakers in a variety of sizes. Before you know it, we’ll be hoping to receive donations of warm clothing: jackets, scarves, gloves, stocking caps, and coats . . . 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. 

The Shrine of the Sacred Heart. The bread, wine, and water for the Eucharist is placed here before the beginning of Solemn Mass.
Photo: Grace Mudd

LOOKING AHEAD . . . Sunday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels . . . Thursday, October 3, Eve of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, Transitus Service 6:30 PM, Lady Chapel . . . Friday, October 4, Saint Francis of Assisi, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, October 6, The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Beginning of the 2019–2020 Choir Season: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass with Choir 11:00 AM, Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. 

AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at Thirty-sixth Street, through September 22, 2019, Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor. From the museum website, “The satirical scenes of the celebrated English artist William Hogarth (1697–1764) are iconic representations of eighteenth-century urban life at a time of great socio-economic disparity. An academic outsider and an activist, Hogarth was driven to innovate, creating new genres and modes of expression in his painting, printmaking, and drawing in his effort to elevate the status of British art. This exhibition will investigate the ways the artist used humor, satire, and political commentary to engage a broad audience and agitate for legislation and political goals. The exhibition features the Morgan’s exceptional cache of six sheets preparatory for two of Hogarth’s most revered print series, both issued in February 1751: Beer Street and Gin Lane and The Four Stages of Cruelty. The story of Hogarth’s images reveals an artist who addressed the ills and injustices of life in a modern metropolis, exploring the connections between violence, crime, alcohol abuse, and cruelty to animals in ways that would amuse, occasionally shock, and edify his audience.

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