In Your Midst


Nov 2002

In This Issue:
The Mass of Thanksgiving Day has become one of my favorite celebrations of the year.

Because of the prayer: Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” What better way to observe this most American of holidays than with the most Catholic of prayers, the Mass, in which we pray, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” We are still a pilgrim people, and the heavenly city is still our goal. And in this most essential way we are one with the pilgrims who “came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope” (Preface of Thanksgiving Day).

Pen and ink drawing of the Cornucopia roundell in a west nave clerestory window.

Because of the people: Regulars from all the various weekend Masses have an opportunity to “gather together,” as the hymn says, “to ask the Lord’s blessing.” For me, it is as if the whole Cathedral family has gathered around the table to give thanks—just as so many of us, a few hours later, will gather around another table to celebrate the holiday with family or friends.

Because of the processions: Not only the beautiful processions of the ministers, led by the Women of St. James Schola with handbells, but more importantly, at this Mass, there is the wonderful procession of gifts, as we all come forward, bringing to the altar our offerings for the poor—this time, not simply symbolic offerings, but bags of food which are distributed to those in need shortly after Mass.

And of course, because of the music: For the Women of St. James Schola, who sing each week at the Sunday evening Mass, it is a delight to pray with people from every corner of the parish. The ancient hymns we sing take on new meaning in the context of this celebration. The 9th-century hymn Iste confessor, with the flowing melody of the medieval chant, states so simply and so powerfully why we gather as we do:

Hallowed this dwelling
   where the Lord abideth,
THis is none other
   than the gate of heaven;
Strangers and pilgrims,
   seeking homes eternal,
Pass thro’ its portals.

Mass of Thanksgiving Day
November 28th, 2002  9:30 am
You are invited to bring non-perishable food items for the poor and needy of our neighborhood.

I’ve come to feel that the music we sing on Thanksgiving Day is some of the best accompanied music we sing all year; and that is because it is sustained not just by organ and handbells, but by that wonderful music of hundreds of paper bags as they are brought forward and placed around the altar platform. For me, that is the sound of love.

Dr. James Savage is the Cathedral Director of Music.

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