Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Last Sundays of Ordinary Time

Today begins the first of the three Sundays known as the last Sundays in ordinary time.  These Sundays are used “as needed” based on how many Sundays fall between Easter and Advent.  This year we will use all three (31, 32 and 33) leading up to the Solemnity of Christ the King; the last Sunday of the church year.

In last week’s article I wrote about the theme of these weeks and their connection to the upcoming season of Advent. You can find this and previous bulletin articles at  http://brucemauro1.blogspot.com

Two upcoming liturgical feasts provide additional insight into the connection between these last Sundays and Christ’s second coming.

On Tuesday November 1 the church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints.  On this day we remember and celebrate those who have been named by the church as saints.

While many of our beloved deceased may already be saints, we remember them in a particular way on in The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed on Wednesday November 2.  This day is commonly called All Souls Day. 

One way of connecting these Last Sundays with all Saints and All Souls day will be through the use of John Becker’s “Litany of the Saints” (#727) at communion.

My hope is that you will get “caught up” in the prayer by responding “pray for us” as the cantor invokes God’s blessings through the intercessions of the Saints.

In loving memory of my Dad, Grandparents and mentors,


p.s. Be sure to put the Nutley/Belleville ecumenical service on your calandar.  November 21st at 7:30
at St. Mary's

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The End Is Near

What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear or read the word apocalypse?  

I had assumed that everyone would say for "end" until my Catholic School educated teenager proved me wrong (once again) by responding; Zombies."   I added the picture to lead you to me desired response. (and because Homer makes me smile.)

Apocalypse comes from the Greek meaning “an uncovering.”  A more useful translation might be “to reveal” as this shows the connection between the apocalypse and the end times described in the Book of Revelation.

Next week begins the part of the liturgical year known as the last Sundays in ordinary time.  The reading for these Sundays focus on themes that relate to Christ's return at the end of time.

I think of these three Sundays as the left side of a hinge which are connected to the right side of the hinge i. e. Advent (the first Sundays of the new church year.)  The hinge itself is the Sunday in between the two:  The Solemnity of Christ the King.  (The hinge itself.) 

While the entire 8 week period may be spread across two different liturgical years each are located in the period of time in which we await Christ's second time.

The themes of judgement and salvation over these next weeks are highlighted by the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls, both of which occur during within last Sundays of ordinary time.

More on both of these next week.

Blessed to be serving at St.  Mary's,


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Beautiful Savior

I'd like to continue a thought from last week and say more about hymnody. 
Let's begin by taking a look at the fine print below our recessional hymn #200
(If you didn't read last week's article explaining the fine print, you can find it at www.stmarys.org. or on this blog.)

Beautiful Savior is a translation of the of the hymn Schonster Herr Jesu which was first found in a German hymnal in 1677.  The  name of the hymnal provides a few more clues as to it's origin.  Gesangbuch is the German word for hymnal and Munster is an area in north Germany.  (From which the cheese is named.)

The writer of the original German text is unknown and noted as anonymous.  The translation is attributed to a Lutheran pastor, theologian and author named Joseph A Seiss.  The text is derived from the third verse of psalm 45.  (Frankly, it took me a while to see this connection).

 Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one 
clothe yourself with splendor and Majesty.

 St. Elizabeth, the hymn tune to which Seiss' translation is set is a folk-tune from the same general area.  Schlesische Volkslieder is a book of Silesian folk-tunes published  in Leipzig; the city where Bach lived and worked about 100 years previously.

You will notice a strong German influence in many of the hymns we sing.  One main reason is that in the years after the reformation the German church developed hymnody (four part singing congregational singing in the vernacular) as a  primary form of liturgical music.  On the other hand, the Roman church emphasized plainsong chant sung by the choir in Latin.  

Beautiful Savior and Now Thank We All Our God (the hymn I wrote about last week) are examples of German hymns translated into English.

Blest to be serving and singing at St. Mary's,



Beautiful Savior holds a special place for me as it was a staple at Wagner College where I sang in the choir and received my undergraduate degree.  While it's affiliation with the Lutheran Church was severed well before I arrived, Wagner retained many ties to it's beginnings as a Lutheran Seminary.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Talking About Hymns

Pop Quiz:

1.  What is a hymn?
2.  Is every song we sing at church a hymn?
3.  What do you think of when you hear the word    

A google search will teach you more than I know (or care to know) about hymns.  Instead, let me explain it by:

    1.  Looking at the “fine print” found at the bottom of each song 
         printed in hymnals

    2.  Comparing a hymn with something that isn’t a hymn


1.  The fine print

Take a look at the bottom of Now Thank We All Our God hymn #198 where it gives information about the “Text.”

67, 67, 66, 66:          This speaks to the meter of the stressed        

                                 Count the syllables;
                                 Now thank we all our God (6)  
                                 With heart, and hands, and voic-es (7.)

Sirach 50:22-24      The songs’ scriptural reference
           Now bless the God of all who everywere does great things, 
           who raises us up from our birth and deals mercifully with us.  
                                                                (Sirach 5:22) 

Martin Rinkart      
A scholar, chorister and future pastor who wrote the words.

Catherine Winkworth      
A British native who translated this and many hymns from German to English.

Here is what we learn about the music:
John Cruger         
A musical composer and hymnal editor who composed the hymn tune Nun Danket.

The name of the hymn tune is noted to the right of the title.  In this case, the tune derives its’ name from a literal translation of the first words of the original text, “Nun Danket Alle Gott.”


2.  Comparing a hymn to a song

The second way to learn about hymns is by comparing it to something that isn’t a hymn.  

Our communion song Miracle of Grace provides an excellent contrast.  In the interest of space I will let you compare the fine print on your own.

A quick glance at the music and a little attention paid when singing reveal several distinct distinctions that separate hymns from songs.   Hymns employ simple rhythmic patterns and notes that move stepwise up and down the scale.  Songs allow for greater intervals between pitches and more complex rhythms.  Miracle of Grace (#363) is very typical of contemporary church musical composition.

Now for the challenge question:    

4.  What is better? Hymns or songs?

Once again, a google search will tell you more than I care to know, read or think about.  Let me answer by saying; “I have been and continue to be intentional in picking and singing all verses of a hymn as our recessional song.”

Blessed to be serving at St. Mary’s,


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