News from Saint Thomas Church Week Beginning October 13

The dining room at the original Choir School

In this week’s news…


In 1913, the Rector, Dr. Ernest Stires, and the Vestry called T. Tertius Noble to become Organist of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Noble came from the magnificent Cathedral of York Minster (the largest Gothic Church in Northern Europe) to a newly-built Gothic church here in New York. York Minster has a choral tradition stretching back over 1000 years; Dr. Noble came to New York with that kind of tradition in his blood, and with the experience of how living in community was at the center of making music. He came with a vision of to how to make that a reality in the the church in America and how he could enhance the beauty of Saint Thomas Church  In March, 1919, 21 boys formed the new Saint Thomas Choir School in buildings on 55th Street, and the Saint Thomas Choir School tradition was formed.  Now, 100 years later and at a different site and in a purpose-built school, a new generation of boys and faculty continue to keep that tradition alive, true to the vision of T. Tertius Noble.

The Choir School’s mission statement is closely aligned with that of the parish:

The Saint Thomas Choir School houses, nurtures, and educates the boy choristers of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. We work together to cultivate a love of learning through challenging academic study and professional musical training rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. Our unique, familial environment fosters self-reliance and personal growth, preparing students to contribute productively to their communities.

Anyone who has toured the school and, in particular, has had lunch with the Headmaster, faculty, staff, and boys knows that sense of family that is at the heart of our Choir School and that makes it unique.

In all that we do at Saint Thomas Church, in every gathering, in every goal, in every strategic plan, we are called to be friends to one other, as Christ is a friend to us (John 15:15). This parish is indeed a veritable greenhouse for friendship to grow under God’s light. And this holy greenhouse is one that I support and ask you to support generously, this year and for many to come.

Music is a powerful way of deepening words and symbolic action. Music is at the heart of the liturgical life of the Church, with a history of the singing of psalms and the chanting of prayers in the Synagogue and, earlier, in the Temple of Jerusalem itself. Music is not an end in itself, but it serves the liturgy and builds up the community.

The current York Minster website says this on the choir’s home page:

“Music is the heartbeat for daily life at the Minster.”

And, indeed, 100 years later, Noble’s vision means that the same heartbeat is experienced here in the middle of New York, and we are privileged to have this treasure.

In my last post, I once spent some time with the choristers asking them to help me express to others what a difference being a chorister made to them so that I could share that ‘on the road’ as I and others went out fundraising. After quite a bit of energetic discussion, they came up with this one phrase that they all agreed on:

“Music is part of who I am.”

Our own Choir School uses the gift of music as one of the tools by which it builds community and fosters that personal growth that will make a difference to our boys and their lives and communities in the future. Investing in our Choir School is not just investing in the future lives of children, it is investing in communities that are unknown to us all around the world but who will benefit by young men who are striving to reach their full potential.

Please support our Annual Appeal as we reflect on the Choir School this week. Just as a boy’s voice is fragile and changes with adolescence, so we need to remember that our Choir School is also fragile as it relies heavily on the generosity of past worshipers and the gifts of the living members of Saint Thomas Church. Help us make a difference now and in the future through your pledge.

I will let the current Chair of the Alumni Committee, Aaron Primero who graduated in 2005, have the last word:

“My time at the Choir School allowed me to re-imagine myself. It’s where I learned to sing, tie a tie and read Latin. There is no place like it. No school whose mission blends art, worship, scholarship, and service. No table to which, year after year, alums return to break bread with one another on Thanksgiving.”

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Due to a strong response, the Oktoberfest evening has now reached maximum capacity and we have closed registration. Thanks to all of you who are supporting this event.

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For the Fall season, our parish will take part in a sermon series as a part of our parish’s Annual Appeal for 2020. This series will include our clergy and guests who will preach on themes exploring the joys and responsibilities of our common life. Join us at our 11am services for this fine array of preaching.

  • Sept. 22 – Father Turner – Worship
  • Sept. 29Father Spencer – Pastoral Care
  • Oct. 6Father Moretz – Community and Belonging
  • Oct. 13 – The Rector – The Choir School
  • Oct. 20 – Mother Turner – Children and Families
  • Oct. 27 – Father Cheng – Education and Formation
  • Nov. 3 – The Rev. Andrew C. Mead, Rector Emeritus – All Saints’ Sunday
  • Nov. 10 – The Rev. Dr. Daniel Heischman, Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) – Remembrance Sunday and Choir School Centennial Alumni Weekend
  • Nov. 17 – The Rector – The Strategic Plan
  • Nov. 24 – The Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Field, London, UK – Commitment Sunday

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Fr. Turner and Fr. Spencer invite members of the Society of Mary, the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham, and those who are interested, to join them for Mass on Saturday, November 23 in the Chantry Chapel.  Then, at 12:45pm, the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary will be prayed at the Shrine of our Lady of Fifth Avenue.

Following the praying of the Rosary, a simple lunch will be served in the Living Room of the Parish House with a presentation on the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham and a discussion on re-establishing a prayer cell here at Saint Thomas.  Contributions of $10 for the lunch are invited.

Because of the provided lunch, we are asking for all those interested in taking part to sign up at the Reception Desk of the Parish House starting this coming Sunday, Oct. 13.  Alternatively, click on the register for lunch via email.

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Do you have an extra seat or two at your Thanksgiving table? We are matching parishioners that will be looking for company this Thanksgiving with parishioners that would like to host a guest or two for dinner.

For more details, please contact Linda Morfi via email or at 212-757-7013.

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