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St Clement’s Day

2010 November 23
by Gordon Reid

Today is my ┬áseventh St Clement’s Day as Rector of St Clement’s, Philadelphia, and I am sure it will be as memorable as all the others.

A Patronal Festival is always a very special day in a Catholic parish, when one asks the patron to intercede with God for us, to join us in our prayers for the home-bound, the sick and the departed, and for the continued growth of our parish in the love and knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The congregation at the High Mass will be at least double the number who come on an average Sunday. This is because of the phenomenon which ecclesiastical sociologists are just beginning to recognize, that many people have “a Second Church”. Normally they will go to their own nearby church, but on special days they will go to another church which they often value as highly as their own church. This is very true of St Clement’s, and never more so than on St Clement’s Day itself.

Of course, we are lucky to be the only St Clement’s in the area (there was another, a Roman Catholic one, but it was closed several years ago), so we have no competition, unlike churches with dedications like St Mary, St John, St Paul or Christ Church. But tonight I am sure we shall see well known faces of friends who come not just on our Patronal, but also on Corpus Christi, the Assumption, and other feasts not observed by many Episcopal churches. It is always a delight to welcome these “Second Churchers”.

With a lovely Mozart setting of the Mass, accompanied by a small orchestra, and our Diocesean Bishop presiding from the Throne and preaching, I am sure my seventh St Clement’s Day will be as uplifting as the last six have been.

Come and join us.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. ambly permalink
    November 23, 2010

    Seventh?! Seriously – it seems like yesterday you arrived!

  2. Brian permalink
    November 23, 2010

    Happy St. Clement’s day Father!

    I can definitely speak for those of us who love to come to the parish on the feast days you observe at St. Clement’s as if coming to a second church home. I’ve come occasionally and am often in awe by the decorum and faith involved in those special days. Although I am sure that isn’t missing on your Sunday masses.

    For those of us who find a deeper spirituality in Anglo-Catholic churches as Episcopalians, St. Clement’s Feast days always help to deepen it.

    I look forward to the mass tonight, although I’ll be coming a little late as I work late.

  3. November 23, 2010

    Happy Festival Day!

  4. November 24, 2010

    And many more to come dear father! God’s blessings to you and to the parish.

  5. Sylvia Wall permalink
    November 26, 2010

    As a New York church organist, I had been anxiously awaiting a grand weekday service when I could attend St. Clement’s. The musicians-instrumentalists, choir, and organists, were exceptional. Peter Conte is as masterful a conductor as he is an organist. The registration for Kingsfold was riveting. How did Mr. Conte manage to create the effect of Scottish staccato drumming in the introduction of the hymn? I leaned forward as I thought I heard the melody on the pedals. The Psalter Hymnal Handbook does suggest playing two manuals and pedal on the middle stanzas. I found one very funny fact as I researched Kingsfold: As a Scottish folk tune, it appeared as a variant of “Gilderoy.” The first line reads, “Ah Chloris! that I now could sit.”

  6. Paul Emmons permalink
    November 29, 2010

    I’m glad you could make it from New York, Sylvia. Let it not be the last time. When he was a student at Curtis, Leonard Bernstein didn’t think much of our little metropolis outside its hallowed walls, saying that the best thing about Philadelphia is the hourly train to New York. But that was before Peter Conte.
    His hymn playing and improvisations are routinely as inspiring as you heard– although “routinely” is hardly le mot juste. His infectiously rhythmic, drumbeat approach to “We three kings of orient are” has been similar to the way he played Kingsfold, drawing upon its character as a carol for an effect of barbaric splendor. The interludes between stanzas become progressively more grand and colorful.

    Being an organist as well, and living about an hour’s drive away from S. Clement’s, I’m one of those two-churchers Father mentions, but I made a beeline hither as soon as I moved into the area in 1985 and it became my official parish ASAP. It is whatever other I may attend most Sundays that is the “second church”, a chapel of ease if you will.

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