FROM THE RECTOR: MICHAELMAS
I continue to be grateful for the time I spent as a seminarian and as a newly ordained deacon and priest at the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas. When I arrived during my second year in seminary, the 1928 Prayer Book (BCP ) was still in use for the main service on Sunday mornings—and the main service was Morning Prayer and Sermon except on the first Sunday of the month. The transition to the then-new Book of Common Prayer (BCP ) and to a weekly celebration of the Eucharist at 11:15 AM was not easy for the many in the congregation, but the rector, Paul Waddell Prichartt (1929–2012; Incarnation 1974–1992) managed it.
Since seminary days, I have returned again and again to Massey Shepherd’s (1913–1990) The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950). All Prayer Books until 1979 contained the lessons for Sunday and feast day Eucharists. Marion Hatchett’s (1927–2009) Commentary on the American Prayer Book (1980) doesn’t cover all the ground that Shepherd’s did—because the new book doesn’t contain the lessons. Of course scholarship moves on, but Shepherd and Hatchett’s books remain important resources to help us understand the worship of our church.
I turned to Shepherd this week to recall how holy days were celebrated when they fell on a Sunday in BCP (1928). I remember Sunday celebration of Saint Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas). Checking the calendar, I’m pretty sure it happened on Sunday, September 29, 1985, when I was at Incarnation. In BCP (1928) there was a “Table of Precedence” (page li). Saint Michael and all Angels—with a lower case “all” in 1928—was among the celebrations governed by this rubric: “On these Holy Days the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the Feast shall be used; but on Sundays the Collect for the Feast shall be followed by the Collect for the Sunday (Ibid.)
The Feast of Saint Michael begins in the Christian West in Rome in the fifth century when a basilica is dedicated to him. This feast, and a good number of other feasts, pre-date the provision for Sunday lessons on most Sundays of the year. (Shepherd, page 251). Shepherd wrote, “For a long time the Sundays after Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Whitsunday [Pentecost] were either ‘vacant’ (i.e. no fixed propers [collect, epistle, and gospel] were provided for them), or they were provided with a choice of propers to be used ad libitum [as desired]” (BCP , li). BCP (1928) did not make any provision for transferring a celebration to the nearest Sunday. BCP (1979) does permit the anniversary of a church’s consecration or title to be transferred to the ordinary Sundays of Epiphany Season and the Season after Pentecost. At Saint Mary’s, there are four ancient feasts that we celebrate on Sunday when they fall on a Sunday: The Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24), Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles (June 29), Saint Mary the Virgin (August 15), and Saint Michael and All Angels. There is also one thirteenth-century medieval feast, The Body and Blood of Christ, that we celebrate annually on the Second Sunday after Pentecost.
I’m not yet sure about the outline for my sermon for Michaelmas. One of the finest sermons I’ve ever heard was preached on the Michaelmas gospel, John 1:47–51, by Father Prichartt when I was a seminarian at Incarnation. (John 1:43–51 is appointed for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany in Year B). I do know that my soul is moved, not only by the hymns we will sing, but deeply by the New Testament lesson, Revelation 12:7–12. It begins, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (12:7–8)
For several weeks now, we have added the word “evil” to one of the petitions used at the Masses on Sundays and at the Sung Mass on Wednesdays: “Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, especially the victims of poverty, disaster, and evil; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation.” Evil, in its many forms, remains a reality of creation. Let me close with a petition from the Great Litany, “That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; to comfort and help the weak-hearted; to raise up those who fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet” (BCP , 152). Please join us on this weekend to celebrate God’s plan for all of God’s children and God’s holy angels. —Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Larry, 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 the members of our Armed Forces on activity remembering especially Edward; for all the benefactors and friends of this parish; and for the repose of the soul of Yolanda Goldyng Travieso . . . GRANT THEM PEACE: September 29: 1920: Helen Wade Stetson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Burial of the Dead will be celebrated on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 10:00 AM in the Lady Chapel for Yolanda Goldyng Travieso. Mrs. Travieso, a resident with her son Guillermo Travieso in Hells’ Kitchen, attended Saint Mary’s and often prayed here, but never joined the parish. She was eighty-eight years old. Please pray for her, for Guillermo, and for all who mourn. —S.G.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion.
SESQUICENTENNIAL NEWS . . . I’m really delighted and honored to announce that the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, will be with us for Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020, during our Sesquicentennial Year. The year will begin with our bishop, the Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche, as celebrant and preacher for our patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated this year on Monday, December 9, 2019. Please mark calendars! —S.G.
46TH STREET FAÇADE RESTORATION . . . We don’t have a building permit. While one appreciates very much the need for the New York City Department of Buildings to help keep the city safe, it’s not easy for architects and contractors to navigate its requirements. That may be surprising when one considers the amount of construction and renovation going around the city, but it’s a reality. Every week seems to bring new challenges, in part, because of the uniqueness of our building complex and its needs. Stay tuned! . . . On Tuesday, September 24, and Wednesday, September 25, Organ Curator Larry Trupiano and his team removed a large number of pipes from below the rose window. They have been moved to the Atrium. This means that the pipes were not moved very far from their home. Fortunately, the Morning Room (by the Sacristy) has been repainted and the floor refinished, and it will be the home for the Centering Prayer Group on Friday nights until the renewed rose window has been installed and the organ pipes restored. —S.G.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Sunday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, 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, October 2, Sung Mass 12:10 PM; Clothing Ministry: Grab-and-Go, 2:00–4:00 PM, Mission House . . . Thursday, October 3, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM; . . . Friday, September 27, Centering Prayer Group, 6:30 PM in the Morning Room (by the Sacristy).
CLERGY COVERAGE NOTE . . . It has happened this year that Father Smith and I have conference commitments that overlap by one day. Father Jay Smith will return from vacation on Sunday, September 29, and the same day head to Boston for a Leadership in Ministry Conference. He then returns to the parish on Wednesday evening, October 2. I will be away from Tuesday, October 1, until Sunday afternoon, October 6, to attend the annual conference of the Society of Catholic Priests in Tucson, Arizona, and to take a few days of vacation. On Tuesday, October 1, Father Pace will be in residence for pastoral emergencies. Father Matt Jacobson will be with us on Tuesday morning to officiate at Morning Prayer and to celebrate the noonday services.—S.G.
TRANSITUS OF FRANCIS . . . In addition to all the usual feasts and observances of the church year, our community keeps certain observances specific to the Franciscan tradition. One observance, and for many people, it is the most profound, is called the “Transitus.” It’s kept after sundown. As many of you will know, a saint’s feast day is generally the date of his or her death. Francis most likely died on the evening of October 3, 1226, but his feast has always been on October 4. The name “transitus” means crossing or passage, in this case, from this life to the life of the world to come. We were honored to hold our first Transitus service at Saint Mary’s last year, almost immediately after our arrival. Those who joined us sent us a clear message: “You’re going to do this every year, right?” They appreciated the beauty of this service to remember the “Little Poor Man of Assisi.” This year the service will be on Thursday, October 3, 2019, at 7:00 PM at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East 88th Street, where Fr. John Beddingfield is rector. He is also a brother of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis and will give the homily. A bell will toll the 45 years of his life, and we will share a taste of marzipan to remind us of the sweetness of life even in the face of death. We end and depart in silence. —Damien Joseph SSF
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, October 20, and for Friday, November 1, All Saints’ Day. Please be in touch with Chris Howatt in the parish office if you would like to make a donation for one of these dates . . . Attendance at all Offices and Masses: Last Sunday 145.
ABOUT THE MUSIC ON MICHAELMAS . . . The guest organist on Sunday is Saint Mary’s parishioner Clark Anderson. The cantor is tenor Christopher Howatt, Saint Mary’s office manager and a member of the choir. During the ministration of Communion, he will sing Arise my love by American pianist, singer and composer Richard Hundley (1931–2018). Hundley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and began piano study at Cincinnati Conservatory at age eleven. Eventually moving to New York, he studied briefly at the Manhattan School of Music and later became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus. His songwriting abilities were nurtured as he accompanied for Zinka Milanov’s voice studio, and his songs came to the attention of many prominent vocal artists thereby. Arise my love, a setting of a portion of the Song of Solomon, was composed and first performed in 1981 by baritone Joseph Penrod and pianist Margo Garret at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. Hundley later arranged the song for higher voices. —David Hurd
Michaelmas was a time for fairs and festivities around Germany, and church music was especially celebratory. The most prominent festal hymn after the Reformation was “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (Lord God, we praise thee), and J.S. Bach (1685–1750) used this chorale in several works. The title is also the opening line of the German Te Deum, and it is Bach’s organ setting of that great text that provides our voluntaries this morning. With its opening depiction of the angelic orders leading creation in praise of God, it is particularly appropriate for our feast today. The long text (adapted from the Latin by Martin Luther) required Bach to keep things moving along, so he concentrated on harmonizing the chorale phrases in creative ways rather than providing a more elaborate setting. The result, in the words of Bach scholar Peter Williams, is “a fine five-part harmony with some unambiguous references to the text.” In the sections played for the prelude, listen for that angelic song of praise in a succession of running scales and stately harmonies, followed by a sharply contrasting section of petitionary prayer with more unsettled figures, eventually settling into a quiet extended cadence. The postlude is the last section of the work, where Bach depicts the vigor of belief and praise, building to an exciting climax. —Clark Anderson
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Our next Drop-in Day will take place this coming 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—Come see the difference we’re making! . . . 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.