News From Saint Thomas Church

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Dear Friends,

The word Advent means “coming,” and in this wonderful season of preparation and expectation we look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ in glory. We also look back to his first coming as a child in the Bethlehem manger. Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is as if Christmas has already arrived around our Church, and yet, as I write this, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is not even lit! Enjoy the space that Advent brings. Enjoy the sobering themes of this season. Enjoy the time to truly prepare to meet our Lord.

As many of you will know, the Magnificat antiphons (verses traditionally sung before and after psalms or canticles to express particular themes) in the latter days of Advent are affectionately known as ‘The Great O’s’ since they all begin with the vocative ‘O’; the hymn ‘O come, O come Emmanuel’ is based on those antiphons. I have a set of spiritual reflections on my desk called ‘Cries of Advent’ by Jim Cotter that I read each day during December. In all the busyness of this season, they remind of the eternal presence of the Word made Flesh who dwelt among us and encourage me to stop and reflect.

O Emmanuel

at one with our humanity,
whose glory is our abundant life,
come and transform us
who find our destiny in you.

with every blessing,

Father Carl Turner

Advent Procession and Choral Eucharist

On Sunday, December 2, the church year begins anew with the Advent Procession, one of the most moving liturgies of the year.

If you attend in person, you will be treated to the choir singing from many different parts of the church. If you worship with us via the webcast, please note that the choir will at times sound distant because, in fact, they are. This is most especially true at the beginning, when the choir sings the Mattins Responsory while hidden away, entirely out of view of the congregation, in the Great Stairwell. This is appropriate given the sung phrase of “look from afar.” The choir takes on the role of the prophets, with voices that anticipate the Messiah.

The first half of the service is a woven tapestry of the entirety of Advent presented through music, word, and prayer. The service dramatically ends with the singing of Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth as the choir and clergy process down the center aisle, a moving sequence that will be echoed at Lessons and Carols on the Fourth Sunday of Advent with the singing of Once in Royal David’s City. The second half of the morning service will be Choral Eucharist. The service will be repeated at 4pm, not including the Eucharist.

Come and join us at Saint Thomas Church for this solemn and beautiful beginning of the Christian new year.

Handel’s Messiah Concerts at Saint Thomas

On December 4 and 6 from 7:30pm-10:30pm, the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys will present performances of Handel’s “Messiah.” Daniel Hyde will be conducting, and they will combine forces with the fine period instrumentalists of New York Baroque Incorporated to celebrate the season with these much anticipated annual performances. Purchase your tickets here soon!

Guest Preacher: The Reverend Richard C. Alton

Join us for our 4pm service of Advent Procession this Sunday, December 2, when we welcome a long-time friend of this parish, Father Richard Alton, as our guest preacher. Fr. Alton is the Rector of
Saint Clement’s Church, Philadelphia. Most notably in his distinguished career, Fr. Alton served as Senior Curate at Saint Thomas Church during the ministry of the Reverend Canon John Andrew. Please join us to welcome Fr. Alton back to this parish home!