In this week’s news…
One of several events to celebrate the centennial of our school was a lively concert last Thursday night, “Saint Thomas Choir School at 100.” The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys and our guest musicians, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, were conducted by Dr. Jeremy Filsell, our organist and choirmaster. The concert opened with the kaleidoscopic “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Rachmaninov, with Dr. Filsell on piano and conducting. Rooted and stirring excerpts from “Gloria Domini” by the former headmaster T. Tertius Noble (1867-1953) were offered, lauding the Dedication of the Temple as we honored the dedication of the school. The evening closed with a striking collection of seven pieces by Stephen Paulus entitled “Prayers and Remembrances.”
Besides the joy of hearing my colleagues perform and the wonder of experiencing music of such excellence and grace, concerts at St. Thomas are one of the rare times, as a clergyperson, that I get to experience this place as most people do: sitting in a pew. And, also, it is at a concert that I have no other responsibility but to listen and to receive (important responsibilities in a life of faith!). And by the time the final sequence of music arrived, Dr. Filsell, the Gentlemen, the Boys, the Orchestra had ushered my heart into a sustained, prayerful stance. This was made all the more forceful by the actual content of the prayers that were being sung. One of the lush and romantic poems that especially reverberated with me was that of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap’d for the beloved’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
This is not quite a reference to resurrection life. It does, though, bring home the power of beautiful sounds and smells to transcend death. In beauty, Creation mimics the power of the Creator!
And then, a prayer/aphorism from the blazing mind of the poet William Blake (1757-1827) gave me most excellent advice in a piece called “Eternity.”
He who bends to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
I think that there is a lot of pressure to enjoy the good things of life while you have them. There is indeed a solemn urgency (at worst, desperation) in the air to enjoy life while one can in this troubled world. And the implication is that if we try hard enough (how, precisely?), we can get the most out of life. But Blake offers a counterintuitive conviction: don’t grasp at the good things in life, “bending to yourself” the joys of this world as if you could make them permanent. Instead, we are called to be at peace with good things as they come and as they go. After all, why say “bye,” when we can say “goodbye?” And in “kissing the joy as it flies,” one can discover the timeless quality of the seemingly fleeting joys that God gives us, so that we may know eternal life through better or worse.
My deepest gratitude for Dr. Filsell, the Music Department, the Gentlemen, the Boys, and all our guest musicians for such a fine evening of music, wisdom, and prayer. And, also, thank you to all those who support this exquisite craft and ministry. If you haven’t yet, please consider joining me as a participant in St. Thomas Church’s 2020 Annual Appeal using the button below.
(Please note that we updated our website over the summer, including our pledging system. If you previously had a user account, you will need to create a new user account and password. If you have any questions, please email website@SaintThomasChurch.org)
The Middlers’ Group
Saint Thomas Church is introducing a new fellowship group into the life of our parish community. The Middlers’ Group (parishioners bordering their 40’s and 50’s) is a new initiative designed to foster community for people in this age bracket across the parish. For our first official gathering, we are hosting a simple meal in the Living Room of the Parish House, on Saturday, November 23 at 6.30pm.
If you would like to know more about this group please contact Fr. Bennett at email@example.com. Please RSVP for dinner by Thursday, November 21st. $15 dollar donation appreciated.
Annual Appeal 2020 Sermon Series
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. 29 – Father Spencer – Pastoral Care
- Oct. 6 – Father 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
Society of Mary: Society of our Lady of Walsingham
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.
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.