September 11: Harry Thacker Burleigh, composer, 1949

Henry (Harry) Thacker Burleigh was an American singer, composer, and arranger who did more than anyone else up to his time to make available the riches of the American Negro spiritual to vast audiences. The Episcopal Church commemorates him today, September 11.

Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1866. His grandfather, Hamilton Waters, had been a slave who had been blinded by a savage beating but passed along old songs by singing them to his grandson, Harry. Burleigh had a natural voice for singing and sang when and where he could.

In 1892, with some difficulty, he won admission to the National Conservatory of Music, where he studied voice and music theory. Although never directly a pupil of Antonín Dvořák, the director of the Conservatory at the time, he worked for Dvořák copying orchestral parts. It was Burleigh who suggested to Dvořák some of the themes that would become Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9: From the New World.

To support himself while at Conservatory, Burleigh became the baritone soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City. The presence of a black man in the choir initially caused dissension, but it died down when J. Pierpont Morgan, a member of the parish, took a clear stand on the matter. Even after gaining other employment and becoming a successful composer, Burleigh continued to sing in the choir at St. George’s for many years and became a beloved part of the congregation.

Burleigh composed original music, mostly for voice, and was a well-respected arranger and music editor in New York. His art songs were musical settings of the poetry of such great African American poets as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, among others.

His greatest achievement, and that for which he will always be celebrated, was recovering and arranging many Negro spirituals for solo voice and piano so that they could be widely heard on the concert stage. Various choral versions of the spirituals had been well known in the black churches, but it was Burleigh’s arrangements that made this distinctively American music available to the masses.

Burleigh died on September 12, 1949.

God, our strong deliverer: We bless your Name for the grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh, who lifted up in song the struggles of your people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us and your whole Church to raise our distinct voices into one great harmony of praise; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Hagiography from A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Church Publishing.)

September 10: Alexander Crummell, priest, 1898

Today, the Episcopal Church honors Alexander Crummell, priest.

Born March 3, 1819, in New York City, Alexander Crummell struggled against racism all his life. As a young man of color, he was driven out of an academy in New Hampshire, dismissed as a candidate for Holy Orders in New York, and rejected for admittance to General Seminary. Ordained in 1844 as a priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts, he left for England after being excluded from participating in diocesan convention.

After receiving a degree from Cambridge University, he went as a missionary to Liberia, where a model Christian republic seemed possible. The vision embraced by Crummell included European education and technology, traditional African communal culture, and a national Episcopal Church headed by a black bishop. He traveled extensively in the United States, urging blacks to emigrate to Liberia and to support the work of the Episcopal Church there.

Upon returning to Liberia, he worked to establish a national Episcopal Church. Political opposition and a loss of funding finally forced him to return to the United States, where he concentrated his efforts on establishing a strong urban presence of independent black congregations that would be centers of worship, education, and social service. When Southern bishops proposed that a separate missionary district be created for black congregations, Crummell created a national convocation to defeat the proposal. The Union of Black Episcopalians is an outgrowth of that organization.

Crummell’s ministry spanned more than half a century and three continents. Everywhere, at all times, he labored to prepare black people and to build institutions that would serve them and provide scope for the exercises of their gifts in leadership and creativity. His faith in God, his perseverance in spite of repeated discouragement, his perception that the Church transcended the racism and limited vision of its leaders, and his unfailing belief in the goodness and greatness of black people are the legacy of this African American pioneer.

He died in Red Bank, New Jersey, in 1898.

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, in this and every land, evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Hagiography from Lesser Feasts & Fasts, 2018, Church Publishing.)

September 9: The Martyrs of Memphis: Constance and her companions, 1878

Today, September 9, the Episcopal Church honors the Martyrs of Memphis: Constance, Thecla, Ruth, Frances, Charles Parsons, and Louis Schuyler.

In August 1878, yellow fever invaded the city of Memphis, Tennessee for the third time in ten years. By the month’s end, the disease had become epidemic and a quarantine was ordered. While more than 25,000 citizens had fled in terror, nearly 20,000 more remained to face the pestilence. As cases multiplied, death toll averaged 200 people per day. When the worst was over, ninety percent of the people who remained had contracted the fever and more than 5,000 people had died.

In that time of panic and flight, many brave men and women, both lay and ordained, remained at their posts of duty or came as volunteers to assist in spite of the terrible risk. Notable among these heroes were four Episcopal sisters (nuns) from the Community of Saint Mary, and two of their clergy colleagues, all of whom died while tending to the sick. They have ever since been known as “The Martyrs of Memphis,” as have those of other communions who ministered in Christ’s name during this time of desolation.

The Sisters had come to Memphis in 1873, at Bishop Quintard’s request, to found a school for girls adjacent to St. Mary’s Cathedral. When the 1878 epidemic began, George C. Harris, the cathedral dean, and Sister Constance immediately organized relief work among the stricken. Helping were six of Constance’s fellow Sisters of St. Mary; Sister Clare from St. Margaret’s House, Boston, Massachusetts; the Reverend Charles C. Parsons, Rector of Grace and St. Lazarus Church, Memphis; and the Reverend Louis S. Schuyler, assistant at Holy Innocents, Hoboken, New Jersey. The cathedral group also included three physicians, two of whom were ordained Episcopal priests, the Sisters’ two matrons, and several volunteer nurses from New York.

The cathedral buildings were located in the most infected region of Memphis. Here, amid sweltering heat and scenes of indescribable horror, these men and women of God gave relief to the sick, comfort to the dying, and homes to the many orphaned children. Only two of the workers escaped the fever. Among those who died were Constance, Thecla, Ruth, and Frances, the Reverend Charles Parsons, and the Reverend Louis Schuyler. All six are buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

The monument marking the joint grave of Fathers Parsons and Schuyler bears the inscription: “Greater Love Hath No Man.” The high altar in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Memphis, is a memorial to the four Sisters.

We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death; Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

September 7: Elie Naud, Huguenot witness to the faith, 1722

Elie Naud (also known as Elias Neau) was a French Huguenot (French Reformed) born in 1661. It was an era when French Roman Catholicism was increasingly dominant and the persecution of Protestants was becoming more violent. Naud fled France and landed in England, where he sojourned briefly before settling permanently in New York City.

During his early years in New York, he traveled frequently to Europe to raise money for Huguenot causes, having to take passage in steerage because he was not a Roman Catholic. His unwillingness to renounce his French Reformed faith resulted in his imprisonment for nearly two years in the infamous Chateau d’If.

In New York City, Naud became a member of L’Eglise du Saint-Esprit, a French-speaking parish which eventually joined The Episcopal Church, and later of Trinity Church, Wall Street, where he served for fifteen years as a catechist among slaves and Native Americans, preparing them for baptism.

Naud founded a school for the children of the poor and for the children of slaves. Upon the recommendation of the Rector of Trinity Church, the Bishop of London, acting for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), licensed Naud as a missioner “to slaves and ragged people in the New World.”

Naud also worked to influence Parliament for the passage of British laws that would demand Christian instruction for the children of slaves and Native Americans and schools for their education. Only through these means, he believed, could an equal and free society be created. During the New York City slave riot of 1712, Naud remained faithful to his vision despite threats of death from those who believed education of slaves fueled such uprisings.

Naud continued to write hymns and poetry in his native French throughout his life. He died on September 7, 1722, and was buried in the churchyard at Trinity Church, Wall Street.

Blessed God, whose Son Jesus knelt to serve his disciples: We honor you for the witness of your servant Elie Naud; and pray that we, with him, may proclaim Christ in service to those deemed by the world to be littlest and least, following Jesus, who came not to be ministered to but to minister; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

September 6: Hannah More, religious writer and philanthropist, 1833

Hannah More brought a wide array of gifts and talents to her work in the church. She was a religious writer, poet and playwright, philanthropist, social reformer, and abolitionist. The Episcopal Church commemorates Hannah More today, September 6.

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son led captivity captive: Multiply among us faithful witnesses like your servant Hannah More, who will fight for all who are oppressed or held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the glorious liberty that you have promised to all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

More was born in Bristol in 1745 and was raised in the Church of England. She and her four sisters were instructed at home by their father, who was a local school teacher. When the oldest two sisters had reached adulthood, their father established a school for girls and placed them in charge of it. Hannah completed her education there and then taught at the school herself.

Hannah devoted considerable energy to writing even as a child. Her first works were poems plays that were intended to be performed in girls’ schools, such as the one where she taught, with the characters being primarily women. In the 1780s, Hannah became friends with James Oglethorpe, an early abolitionist who was working to abolish the slave trade. Around this time, her writing began to address issues of religious concerns and social reform, particularly the evils of slavery.

She also wrote on a number of other religious topics, with important works such as Practical Piety (1811), Christian Morals (1813), and The Character of St. Paul (1815). Her works were extremely popular in some circles, but reviled in others. In his 1906 work Hannah More Once More, the lawyer and politician Augustine Birrell admits to burying all 19 volumes of her work in his garden in
disgust.

More was heavily active in philanthropic work, establishing twelve schools for the education of poor children. She also donated money to Bishop Philander Chase for the establishment of Kenyon College, and established a number of Sunday Schools which offered instruction in both literacy and Christianity.

Many of More’s poems drew forceful attention to the evils of slavery and forced the issue into the public gaze. While their literary quality is often not to modern tastes, in their own day they were very influential, and raised awareness of the issue among literary circles who were not otherwise inclined to discussions of public policy and social reform.

This is an excerpt from her poem Slavery:

I see, by more than Fancy’s mirrow shewn,
The burning village, and the blazing town:
See the dire victim torn from social life,
The shrieking babe, the agonizing wife!
She, wretch forlorn! is dragg’d by hostile hands,
To distant tyrants sold, in distant lands!
Transmitted miseries, and successive chains,
The sole sad heritage her child obtains!
Ev’n this last wretched boon their foes deny,
To weep together, or together die.
By felon hands, by one relentless stroke,
See the fond links of feeling nature broke!
The fibres twisting round a parent’s heart,
Torn from their grasp, and bleeding as they part.
Hold, murderers, hold! not aggravate distress;
Respect the passions you yourselves possess.

Hannah More died in Clifton, near Bristol, on September 7, 1833.

(Hagiography from Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018, Church Publishing.)

September 5: Katharina Zell, church reformer and writer, 1562

Today, the Episcopal Church commemorates Katharina Zell, reformer and writer.

Almighty God, we thank you for those women and men in our midst who, like Katharina Zell, work to build up your kingdom not only with words but with deeds—not only the work of the mind but also the work of the heart—not only with pens but with their presence. Fill us, like her, with the wisdom to speak out in defense of your truth. Fill us, like her, with love for you and for our neighbor, that we may serve you and welcome all your people with a mother’s heart. Amen.

Katharina Schutz Zell was born in 1497 in Strasbourg. Reform and protest against abuses in the church reached her part of the world early on, and the twelve-person Schutz family—artisans, not nobility—were convinced. Katharina was especially interested in the new thinking and teaching about the church. She was intent on seeking a holy life; for a long time, this meant a dedicated celibacy, but as a Protestant, she was convinced of the holiness of marriage as a vocation, and late in 1523 she married Matthew Zell, the most popular priest and preacher in Strasbourg.

For clergy to marry was truly a startling thing for Christians in this time; even some of the new Protestant Christians found it difficult, distasteful, or immoral. In response to the city’s reaction, Zell wrote a letter to the bishop building a Biblical defense of the marriage of priests, and describing the traits of a good pastor. Though she wanted to publish it, she accepted the city council’s demand to keep quiet. In September of 1524, however, she published a pamphlet addressed to her fellow (lay) Christians explaining the Biblical basis for clerical marriage and for her ability (as a woman) to speak on such things. She argues that when a Christian speaks out in this way, it is significant as an act of love to her neighbor.

That same year, 150 men and their families were driven out of Kentzingen because of their beliefs; Katharina and her husband purportedly welcomed 80 of these people in their home. She wrote a “Letter to the suffering women of the Community of Kentzingen, who believe in Christ, sisters with me in Jesus Christ,” in which she interpreted these women’s painful experiences in light of Scripture and the promises of Christ, in order to encourage them on their path.

Throughout her life she continued to welcome refugees and to visit those sick with plague, syphilis, and other feared diseases. Some of her guests were more well-known than others; she welcomed Martin Bucer (who had performed her marriage) when he fled Weissenburg, and John Calvin when he fled France.

She also continued to write throughout her life—a funeral oration for her husband, pamphlets, letters (including a correspondence with Luther), and Scriptural commentary. Her last published work was a commentary on Psalm 50, Psalm 130, and the Lord’s Prayer.

When, later in life, she was accused by her husband’s successor of disturbing the peace of the city, she wrote,

“Do you call this disturbing the peace that instead of spending my time in frivolous amusements I have visited the plague infested and carried out the dead? I have visited those in prison and under sentence of death. Often for three days and nights I have neither eaten or slept. I have never mounted the pulpit, but I have done more than any minister in visiting those in ministry. Is this disturbing the peace of the church?”

Katharina Zell died in Strasbourg on September 5, 1562.

(Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018, Church Publishing.)

September 5: Katharina Zell, church reformer and writer, 1562

Today, September 5, the Episcopal Church commemorates Katharina Zell, a courageous Protestant reformer and writer during the continental Reformation.

Almighty God, we thank you for those women and men in our midst who, like Katharina Zell, work to build up your kingdom not only with words but with deeds—not only the work of the mind but also the work of the heart—not only with pens but with their presence. Fill us, like her, with the wisdom to speak out in defense of your truth. Fill us, like her, with love for you and for our neighbor, that we may serve you and welcome all your people with a mother’s heart. Amen.

Katharina Schutz Zell was born in 1497 in Strasbourg. Reform and protest against abuses in the church reached her part of the world early on, and the twelve-person Schutz family—artisans, not nobility—were convinced. Katharina was especially interested in the new thinking and teaching about the church. She was intent on seeking a holy life; for a long time, this meant a dedicated celibacy, but as a Protestant, she was convinced of the holiness of marriage as a vocation, and late in 1523 she married Matthew Zell, the most popular priest and preacher in Strasbourg.

For clergy to marry was truly a startling thing for Christians in this time; even some of the new Protestant Christians found it difficult, distasteful, or immoral. In response to the city’s reaction, Zell wrote a letter to the bishop building a Biblical defense of the marriage of priests, and describing the traits of a good pastor. Though she wanted to publish it, she accepted the city council’s demand to keep quiet. In September of 1524, however, she published a pamphlet addressed to her fellow (lay) Christians explaining the Biblical basis for clerical marriage and for her ability (as a woman) to speak on such things. She argues that when a Christian speaks out in this way, it is significant as an act of love to her neighbor.

That same year, 150 men and their families were driven out of Kentzingen because of their beliefs; Katharina and her husband purportedly welcomed 80 of these people in their home. She wrote a “Letter to the suffering women of the Community of Kentzingen, who believe in Christ, sisters with me in Jesus Christ,” in which she interpreted these women’s painful experiences in light of Scripture and the promises of Christ, in order to encourage them on their path.

Throughout her life she continued to welcome refugees and to visit those sick with plague, syphilis, and other feared diseases. Some of her guests were more well-known than others; she welcome Martin Bucer (who had performed her marriage) when he fled Weissenburg, and John Calvin when he fled France.

She also continued to write throughout her life—a funeral oration for her husband, pamphlets, letters (including a correspondence with Luther), and Scriptural commentary. Her last published work was a commentary on Psalm 50, Psalm 130, and the Lord’s Prayer.

When, later in life, she was accused by her husband’s successor of disturbing the peace of the city, she wrote,

“Do you call this disturbing the peace that instead of spending my time in frivolous amusements I have visited the plague infested and carried out the dead? I have visited those in prison and under sentence of death. Often for three days and nights I have neither eaten or slept. I have never mounted the pulpit, but I have done more than any minister in visiting those in ministry. Is this disturbing the peace of the church?”

Katharina Zell died on September 5, 1562.

(Hagiography adapted from Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018, Church Publishing.)

September 4: Paul Jones, bishop, 1941

Today, the Episcopal Church honors The Rt. Rev. Paul Jones, bishop.

Paul Jones was born in 1880 in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Yale University and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he accepted a call to serve a mission in Logan, Utah. In 1914, he was appointed archdeacon of the Missionary District of Utah and, later that year, was elected its bishop. Meanwhile, World War I had begun.

As Bishop of Utah, Paul Jones did much to expand the church’s mission stations and to strengthen diocesan institutions. At the same time, he spoke openly about his opposition to war. With the entry of the United States into the war, the Bishop of Utah’s views became increasingly controversial. At a meeting of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Los Angeles in 1917, Bishop Jones expressed his belief that “war is unchristian,” for which he was attacked with banner headlines in the Utah press.

As a result of the speech and the reaction it caused in Utah, a commission of the House of Bishops was appointed to investigate the situation. In their report, the commission concluded that “The underlying contention of the Bishop of Utah seems to be that war is unchristian. With this general statement the Commission cannot agree…” The report went on to recommend that “The Bishop of Utah ought to resign his office,” thus rejecting Paul Jones’ right to object to war on grounds of faith and conscience.

In the spring of 1918, Bishop Jones, yielding to pressure, resigned as Bishop of Utah. In his farewell to the Missionary District of Utah in 1918, Bishop Jones said:

“Where I serve the Church is of small importance, so long as I can make my life count in the cause of Christ…Expediency may make necessary the resignation of a bishop at this time, but no expedience can ever justify the degradation of the ideals of the episcopate which these conclusions seem to involve.”

For the rest of his life, he continued a ministry within the church dedicated to peace and conscience, speaking always with a conviction and gentleness rooted in the gospel. Bishop Jones died on September 4th, 1941.

Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (Church Publishing, 2019.)

An Active Autumn Starts at St. Alban’s

Autumn means activity, for our families, members and parish! This Sunday starts a very busy September around St. Alban’s. Make a note of these important activities and be sure to join us.

First of all, make sure you’ve registered your child(ren) for Sunday School. An easy online registration form is right here.

September 1 is our annual Ice Cream Social, which happens after both services in the parish hall.

A week later, on September 8, don’t miss Ministry Sunday. There’s only one service that day, at 10:15am, and afterwards come to the parish hall for our fun and enlightening ministry fair. Representatives from each ministry will be available to discuss how our combined effort serves the mission of StAlban’s. No matter how much or little time you have to give, we can help you find the “right fit” for your individual talents and calling.

On Wednesday, September 18 at 7pm, we are beginning a 7-week study of the Book of Job. The Book of Job cuts straight to the heart of what it means to be human.  Talk to Fr. Jeff for more information. The study guide is $23 (checks payable to St. Alban’s or use myEoffering.)

The annual parish weekend is happening September 27-29 at Shrine Mont (did you remember to make your payment?).

And, of course, September means planning for our Christmas Bazaar kicks into high gear. We need lots of support for this important event, which happens on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and raises funds for all of our outreach programs. Contact Nancy Calvert or Sue Mareina to learn how you can help!

Capital Campaign Leadership Finalized

by Bill Calvert & Linda Cummings

With the start of the 2019 Capital Campaign just around the corner, the Vestry, Fr. Jeff and the Campaign Co-Chairs (Bill Calvert and Linda Cummings) are pleased to present the Executive Committee and liaisons for the campaign (see the org chart below or download a copy here). We are grateful that so many wonderful and talented fellow parishioners are willing to give their time and advice for this critical 4-month endeavor that will help define the future path of our parish.

There will be many opportunities for everyone to help support the Capital Campaign over the next four months. We’ll need volunteers to help with visitations, scheduling, reporting, acknowledgements, grant proposals, graphics, and even planning celebration events. If you are willing to give a week or two of your time to help out, please contact Bill Calvert, Linda Cummings or Fr. Jeff.

Soon, you will also see a new face around St. Albans. Daniella Hansen will be our on-site capital campaign consultant, available for discussions and questions throughout the course of the campaign (to see Daniella’s bio, click here).  Please join us in welcoming Daniella to St. Albans.

We will continue to provide capital campaign updates on our website, so be sure to check back frequently by clicking the banner at the very top of each page of our website!