Little-known facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish, presented weekly.
November 3, 2019
The rarely seen back of the newly gilded cross in the All Saints Chapel has its own story to tell. It carries the names of each person who has re-gilded the cross, together with date. The earliest of these is Thomas D. Morris (1813-1881), whose name is included in a list of those attending the first organizational meeting held in Grace Church on Temple Street, January 19, 1844. (The Church of the Advent, First Years. John T. Maltsberger, 1986)
Morris’s name appears on the back of the cross with the dates 1845, 1864, 1874, and 1879. An original member of the Church of the Advent, he was received on Advent Sunday, December 1, 1844, by the Rev. William Croswell. Perhaps curiously, Morris was born in Sumterville, South Carolina, but by the age of 21 was on Nantucket, where he married an 18-year-old island girl, Elizabeth C. Bunker. They moved to Boston where he is variously listed in city directories as a house, sign, and fancy painter (1859); fresco painter (1864); color manufacturer (1870); and paint manufacturer (1880). Elizabeth, 44, died in Boston of consumption February 10, 1860.
On “a rainy morning” in November 1862, Morris married Harriet (Ferrin) Prentiss, a 42-year-old widow, officiated by the Rev. Moses Stickney.
But the record of Morris’s 1844 reception to the Advent carries a mystery: In the Roll of Communicants, directly under his name, is written “Mrs. Harriet Prentiss,” who was received with him. At the time, she was married to Henry Prentiss (1801-1860). “Mr. Prentiss, in 1852, kept the well-known musical instrument store in Court Street, Boston,” according to the Prentiss genealogy. How did they know each other? Why were they admitted together?
Thomas D. Morris, then living at 16 Bulfinch with his family, died at Massachusetts General Hospital on June 22, 1881. This is his obituary from Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association:
Thomas D Morris was admitted, as a painter, in 1854. He was an old and prominent citizen of the West End of Boston. He was a native of Sumterville, S. C., but early came to Boston, where he long had the favor of leading architects and mechanics. In later years he went into the manufacture of paints, and for a while did well, but, failing to protect his specialty by a patent, larger manufacturers supplanted him, and seriously crippled his income. He was a quarter-century member of the Handel and Haydn Society, and of the Church of the Advent, and had served two terms in the Legislature. He was a pronounced anti-slavery man, with strong convictions of right and duty, and of sterling integrity. He died at the age of 69.
October 27, 2019
In 1936, parish historian Ann Maria Mitchell mounted an exhibition of “Adventiana” that attracted hundreds of viewers over three days. Among the visitors were members of the Diocesan Library Committee, who remarked to Ann Maria that they “had not seen in the Diocese a church which had so many beautiful things, nor one where they were so sadly neglected.” Unfortunately this tradition of neglect continued for decades. The Advent 175 Conservation Fund was instituted to remediate and restore some of our most precious books, documents, artwork, and artifacts. The recent restorations of the cross and reredos in the All Saints chapel are “outward and visible signs” of some of what can be accomplished.
Less visible, but equally important, is the parish’s original Register, which covers the years 1844 to 1888. The oversize volume, found in very poor condition, contains nearly half a century’s worth of hand-written information — a list of communicants (941 of them), and details about baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials in the parish’s early years. Thanks to generous gifts from individual members of the Vestry, the book is in the hands of Louise Baptiste, a professional paper conservator, for restoration. She expects to have the work completed by the end of October. These images show Louise at work.
October 20, 2019
Phase one of the re-gilding of the All Saints cross and is reredos completed, thanks to generous gifts to the Advent 175 Conservation Fund. What better time to explore some of the history of the conflict that marked the parish's earliest years?
Immediately after his first episcopal visitation to the Church of the Advent, then located in an "upper room" in a building on the corner of Lowell and Causeway Streets, Bishop Manton Eastburn issued a pastoral letter which was published in The Christian Witness of December 5, 1845. He wrote:
"On Nov. 23, I visited the ch. of the Advent, for confirmation, and there observed, to my inexpressible grief and pain, various offensive innovations upon the ancient usage of our Church. In the form of the Communion Table; in the decorations of golden candlesticks, and of a large wooden cross, by which it is surmounted... I perceived with sorrow superstitious puerilities... Were these novelties nothing but childish, they would on that account be sufficiently objectionable to call forth my censure...but chiefly do I consider these innovations...because of their pointed and offensive resemblance to the usages of that Idolatrous Papal Communion against which our own Prayer Book so strongly protests."
Thus began an exchange of letters between Bishop Eastburn and William Croswell, rector of the Church of the Advent, until Croswell's death in 1851. The exchange continued with the Advent's second rector, Horatio Southgate; the collection would eventually be published in a booklet of 123 pages.
In Trinity Church in the City of Boston, 1733-1833, Bishop William Lawrence said of Eastburn's letters, "Such missives did not make for peace, and some of his closest friends, both clergy and lay, urged him to desist; but his sense of duty was clear and strong."
Despite the cross's significance and history, neither its donor (if there was one) nor its maker is mentioned in any of the parish histories.
October 13, 2019
One of the best-known origin stories about The Church of the Advent concerns the gilded wooden cross that was used in the parish’s Green Street location. It was this very cross that, together with other ornaments, so infuriated Bishop Manton Eastburn that after his initial visit to the Advent in 1845, he vowed not to return until the chancel arrangement met with his approval. And so he stayed away for 11 years.
But there is another controversy, this one internal, that is less well known. This one concerns William Croswell, the first Rector, and the altar now in All Saints Chapel beneath the infamous cross. British-born architect Frank Wills designed the altar, which was crafted in England. On arrival in December 1850, the altar stones were found to be significantly damaged, “being split through from the face backwards.” Could the altar be accepted as is? After “expressing their own views, and comparing opinions in an informal manner,” the Vestry reached an impasse. Senior Warden Theron Metcalf stated his opposition to “both the reception and the erection of the stone Altar” and left the meeting.
After further discussion, the clerk, Henry Parker, submitted attempt at compromise, moving that the altar be accepted but not installed until repaired. In response, Richard Henry Dana (the notes do not indicate Sr. or Jr.) moved an adjournment to give the group “further time for reflection”; the motion was lost and Dana left the meeting. Parker’s amendment passed.
The altar was again the subject of discussion at the next meeting; no motion was made and the meeting adjourned. In early January 1851 a meeting was called “to consider farther the question of at once erecting the stone altar” which again sparked “a long and informal discussion.” Fitch Edward Oliver’s motion “That we do concur with the views of the Rector, and are of opinion that the Stone Altar should be immediately erected in this building” sparked more discussion; the motion was rejected.
Finally, in mid-February, Croswell called the Vestry together and offered a resolution that was adopted without debate: “That on the Rector’s request the Wardens & Vestry consent that the question of the erection of the stone altar be left entirely to his discretion.”
As part of the Advent 175 restoration efforts, the cross above the stone altar will be re-gilded thanks to a gift to the Conservation Fund. Also in need of regilding are the lettering on the altar and on the carved wooden saints, presenting another opportunity for a gift to the Conservation Fund.
October 6, 2019
Sometimes a few hours spent in the archives leads to stories one never could have imagined. Such is this week’s installment, which began with the aim of focusing on Robert Turner Walker, but changed direction.
Robert Turner Walker (1867-1931), an MIT-trained architect and faithful parishioner, instituted the Order of St Vincent in the parish. As head of the St Vincent Guild, he trained servers and made assignments for each liturgy, a daunting task that could involve more than 20 servers for three Sunday Masses. A meticulous record-keeper, he recorded the names of 48 members of the Guild and 35 candidates in a log book that covers 1909 to 1913.
Turner also served as the Guild’s treasurer for many years, dutifully recording expenses: 50 postcards for a penny each; St Vincent pins for $2.75; train fare for meetings. Income came from members’ dues, mite boxes, and minstrel shows, which were held intermittently from 1897 to 1915. During this time, the shows were one of the most significant sources of income, yielding as much as $96.50 for one show held in May 1908.
A separate page lists “Memorial Censer Fund”; donations range from $35 (for an incense boat) to several of $1. The censer referred to is the silver thurible which is used at special liturgies from time to time. A close examination of the thurible shows a faint inscription: Cecil Moreton Barlow. The boat carries the personal colophon of Robert Turner Walker, who designed it. The set is in fact a memorial to a young member of the Guild of St Vincent.
Who was this Cecil Barlow? He was born in 1890, lived in Somerville, and served regularly at the altar. However a stark notation by his name on the membership roll states in uppercase letters, “Died.” The City of Boston death certificate tells the story: in 1912, he was employed as a “meter tester,” and on August 7 was killed by an “accidental shock of electricity.” Guild funds were used for a “Cross of Asters in Memoriam Cecil M. Barlow” at his funeral. His gravestone at Woodlawn Cemetery is an elaborately carved Celtic cross.
Both Robert Turner Walker and Cecil Moreton Barlow rest from their labors now, and through faith have left us with treasures seen and unseen: a gleaming thurible whence “prayers arise like incense” and fragile record books containing infinite stories. In the words of St. John, “if every one of them were written down, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
September 29, 2019
The first rector of the Church of the Advent, William Croswell (1804-1851), previously served as Minister of Christ Church (Old North). When he arrived in Boston in 1829, he was not yet 25 years old, still in Deacon’s orders, unmarried. He is described as “poet, scholar, and keen observer of life and things about him, …modest and untiring as a priest and pastor, characterized by Phillips Brooks as ‘a man of most attractive character and beautiful purity of life … one of the most interesting men who have ever filled Episcopal pulpits in Boston.’”(Mary Kent Davey Babcock, “William Croswell and Christ Church Boston,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Vol. 2, No. 1 (March 1933).*
After 11 years at Christ Church, Croswell preached his farewell sermon on July 5, 1840; he had accepted a position at St Peter’s in Auburn, New York. Before leaving Boston, however, he married Miss Amanda Mary Tarbell (1808-1880), who had been organist at Christ Church; the officiant was Alexander Viets Griswold, Fifth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, which included all of New England with the exception of Connecticut. Within four years, they would return to Boston.
Croswell was a prolific author; during his lifetime, he composed nearly 35 sonnets and seventy poems. We present today two that are especially appropriate: “Michael” and an excerpt from “Baptism.”
*Also from Babcock:…another biographer with equal truthfulness wrote, “Croswell’s poetry was the crowning expression of a consecrated life,” and one critic likened his poems to “beautiful carvings, the string courses, corbels, pendants, brackets, niches and tabernacle work of a Christian cathedral, adorning and strengthening the solid fabric, while placing the ornamental in due subordination to the useful.”
September 22, 2019
September 15, 2019
John Hubbard Sturgis (1834-1888) is remembered as the architect of our church building. But his memory lives on in more than the structure and its shape. Sturgis himself gave a window in the east end of the Lady Chapel in memory of his young daughter, Julia Overing Sturgis (1859-1861). He also designed the lower portion of the reredos at the High Altar (1883). In 1891, his son-in-law, Francis W. Hunnewell (1838-1917), donated funds for the West Porch and Gallery in Sturgis’s memory. His widow, Frances Anne (Codman) Sturgis (1847-1910), honored him with three lancets in the South Transept (1888). These windows portray the twelve Apostles, each shown with his symbol; they carry the words of the Creed on scrolls. She also made a gift of the Nativity/Epiphany window in the West End of the North Aisle in memory of their daughter, Gertrude Gouverneur (Sturgis) Hunnewell (1862-1890), wife of Francis Hunnewell. They lived at 203 Beacon Street (278 Clarendon), a brownstone designed for Hunnewell by Sturgis’s partner Charles Brigham and completed in 1870. Gertrude was just 28 years old when she died of “premature labor,” her system compromised by Bright’s disease.
The “Misses Sturgis,” that is, the daughters of John and Frances – Frances Anne Codman Sturgis, Mabel Russell Sturgis, Alice Maud Russell Sturgis, and Evelyn Russell Sturgis — made two musically oriented gifts in 1912: The organ console, in memory of their brother, Charles Russell Sturgis (1871-1909), who died of a blood infection, and the choir stalls, in memory of their parents. From Betty Hughes Morris’s 1995 history: “The choir stalls were designed by Charles Coveney, a splendid artist and architect and a member of the Advent Corporation…. The design of the choir stalls illustrates ‘Creation Blessing the Ever Blessed Trinity,’ and features verses from the canticle Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, ‘Oh, all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord’” (see pages 47-48 in the Book of Common Prayer for the text of the canticle). When the opportunity arises, take a look at the endearing selection of flora and fauna that grace the choir stalls.
September 8, 2019
In 1874, John Hubbard Sturgis was unanimously chosen as architect of the Church of the Advent’s new building to be erected on the corner of Mount Vernon and Brimmer Streets. A devoted parishioner of the Advent, he married Frances Ann Codman (1837-1910), whose family were also members of the Parish — she was the first cousin of Robert Codman (1823-1901), who gave the bells in memory of his wife, Catherine E. Codman Hurd (1829-1892). Sturgis was a member of the Corporation from 1874 until his death in 1888.
Although his name may not be as familiar as that of other architects of the period — Ralph Adams Cram, H. H. Richardson — he was a leading architect of the 19th century. Pinebank, the house he designed for fellow Corporation member Edward Perkins in 1870, was “impressive, built of polychrome brick and stone, beautifully situated on a small knoll jutting into Jamaica Pond.” It was the first building in the United States to be built using ornamental terra-cotta. Sturgis designed the original Museum of Fine Arts, on the site where the Copley Plaza now stands. “The museum building was a tour de force of Ruskinian gothic clothed in terra-cotta. The materials … were unusual, and the connotation of the style evoked both Ruskin and the Victoria and Albert Museum. From his art student days in London to the end of his life John Hubbard Sturgis was spiritually at home in England, and for the Anglophiles who conducted the affairs of the Parish of the Advent, he was a perfect choice to fashion their new Anglo-Catholic building.” (A History of the Church of the Advent by Betty Hughes Morris, 1995)
September 1, 2019
Charles Chapman Grafton (1830-1912) is commemorated in the calendar on August 30. He was a member of the Church of the Advent when he was confirmed in 1851 and was greatly influenced by the Rev. William Croswell (1804-1851), the first rector. Grafton graduated from Harvard Law School in 1853 but felt called to ordained ministry and was priested in 1858. After the Civil War, he went to Britain and while there was a co-founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE). He returned to the United States in 1872 and became fourth rector of the Advent (1872-1888).
He invited the Russian Orthodox bishop Tikhon and the Old Catholic Bishop Anthony Kozlowski to participate in the ordination of Reginald Heller, his eventual successor as bishop co-adjutor, in 1900. The service stirred up a furor across the country with the publication of this photograph (called derisively “The Fond du Lac Circus”) showing all eight Episcopal bishops and the two visiting bishops in cope and mitre.
Even after leaving Boston, Bishop Grafton made local headlines. From the Boston Globe, April 18, 1891:
The Church of the Advent has a marble bust of Bishop Grafton. Can you find it?
August 25, 2019
August 18, 2019
From The Boston Globe of December 31, 1890: "A person strolling by the Church of the Advent would notice that great changes are being made in the edifice. The vacant lot at the corner of Brimmer and Mt. Vernon sts., which for several years has been filled with building stones, and has served as a playground for boys in the neighborhood, is being filled by a beautiful addition to the church edifice." A feature of the addition was the bell tower, the Globe reported, "about 30 feet of which is to built by the widow, sons, and daughters of the late Horatio Bigelow [1814-1888], who was for a long tie a prominent member of the parish of the Advent." Rising an impressive 172 feet to the top of the cross, the bell tower contains a heavy oak frame to support the eight bells--the heaviest, the tenor, weighs more than a ton. The Church of the Advent - Boston Guidebook (1975) declares "This is a true bell tower, which houses one of the few peals of change-ringing bells in the United States."
August 11, 2019
The piece describes how 20 minutes before the Sunday service, "the bells sent forth on the quiet air the notes of the stirring hymn, 'The Church has One Foundation [sic].' The tune is a familiar one to Episcopalians. Its brisk measure sounded mellow and clear as the bells pealed its cadence." Additional hymns followed: "Oft is Danger, Oft is Woe," and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" in the morning; "Lead, Kindly Light" and "Onward, Christian Soldiers" were among the evening's offerings.
August 4, 2019
No. 2 - "We Praise Thee."
No. 3 - "We Bless Thee."
No. 4 - "We Worship Thee."
No. 5 - "We Glorify Thee."
No. 6 - "We Give Thanks to Thee."
No. 7 - "Day by Day We Magnify Thee."
No. 8 - "Lift Up Your Hearts"
July 28, 2019
"Bell ringing is the poetry of steeples,” said Ben Jonson. The poetry that emanates from the Advent’s steeple on Sundays and for funerals (for the traditional Tolling of the Tailors) and festivities (such as the Fourth of July) dates to 1900, when Robert Codman (1823-1901) gave a ring of eight bells in memory of his wife, Catherine Hurd Codman (1829-1892). Gifts from Dr. Arthur Nichols and others secured the hanging apparatus.
Dr. Nichols taught his intrepid daughter, Margaret, to ring, and on a visit to the Whitechapel Foundry she witnessed the casting of the bells for the Church of the Advent. Margaret – now Mrs. Shurcliff – was one of the ringers at the installation and blessing of the bells in 1900. Practice had been only with the clappers tied, because bells should not sound until after the blessing. The original sounds that day, therefore, were a clash of “sweet bells jangling,” for the ringers had never heard the voice of their own bells. – Parenthetically, Mrs. Shurcliff, while still Miss Nichols, in 1902, rang in four full peals in four days, the first citizen of the United States to ring a peal, the second woman to do so; and her first peal on handbells was the difficult Stedman Triples method.
--Adapted from A History of the Church of the Advent by Betty Hughes Morris (1995)
July 21, 2019
A memorial plaque installed in 2015 honors Jonathan Myrick Daniels (1939-1965), martyr of the Civil Rights Movement. At the time of his murder in Selma, Alabama, Jonathan was a seminarian at the Episcopal Theological School, preparing for ordination as a priest. In advance of his feast day – August 14 – we offer this look at Jonathan (back row, second from left) as a young camper, together with a poem written after Jonathan’s death in 1965 by his counselor at Camp Takodah, Jack Whitcomb.
See also this sermon preached in August 2015 by Fr. Allan Warren for a fuller account of Jonathan Daniels' life.
Knobby knees, grimy nails, ears that show
Sneakers knotted instead of a bow
A kid with a notion in perpetual motion
That is the Jonathan I know
Through day’s travail to evensong
Hard right bettered easy wrong
Untried youth learned the truth
That differences make us strong
To climb a mountain and watch the dawn
Leading the pack would likely be Jon
He led the way that shameful day
Human rights were trampled on
Though he lived and died
For a cause that bigotry denied
His chippy face
Has a special place
The darkness cannot hide.
July 14, 2019
Repeating here what I said last Sunday about the Orphelinat des Armées [Army Orphanage], we have the splendid opportunity of coming to the aid of glorious France at once, in a way effective, gracious, and gratifying to ourselves. There will be three hundred thousand little half-orphans, children of French soldiers killed in the war for freedom, whose mothers must be helped to support them. Under the patronage of the President of France, local committees will supervise the education of these children, and assure them the training for careers to which they show most aptitude. To this end, we are asked to assume a certain responsibility for individual children. Ten cents a day for two years, $74 in all, measures that responsibility in money; and those guaranteeing this sum are brought into relations with the children, learn their names and addresses, can have their photographs, and are informed as to their progress. Above all, we shall feel that we are helping France to build up the next generation as a worthy successor to this which is serving civilization and the very principle of freedom by its incalculable sacrifices. Those who are willing to undertake the "adoption" of one or more children on this basis will please communicate direct with me. I hope that our parish societies may also take each one or two orphans. So far, thirty have been "adopted." Vive la France!
July 7, 2019
Born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, in 1869, parish historian Ann Maria Mitchell graduated from Wellesley College in 1890. She wrote articles on such varied topics as "A Novel Garden Party" (Good Housekeeping, 1896), "Old Days and New in Northfield" (New England Magazine, 1897), and "The White Blackberry" (Rhodora, 1899).
Her article, "The Advent Parish, Boston - Pioneer of the Catholic Revival," was published in The Living Church in December 1935, by which time she was serving as parish historian. The Advent Archives have typescripts of her notes on Charles Chapman Grafton; Martha Sever, the Civil War nurse whose bequest made possible the South Porch (Mt. Vernon Street entrance); and an unfinished work, "Annals of the Advent Parish, Boston."
By the 1930s, she was living near the Advent at 81 Revere Street. She later moved to Morville House, 273 Clarendon Street, a "home for aged women" owned by the Diocese of Massachusetts. She died in April 1942; the Rev. Whitney Hale presided at her funeral.
June 30, 2019
In his "Weekly Message" of late June 1911, the Rev. William Harman van Allen (rector, 1902-1929; shown here ca. 1913) included this cautionary note:
June 23, 2019
On June 18, 1911, the first Sunday after Trinity, the Advent held a Solemn High Eucharist to mark the upcoming coronation of George V. The rector, William Harman van Allen, wrote, "It is a joy this morning to unite ourselves with our brethren of the British Empire in their solemn national festival of the King's Coronation. Republicans as we are, loving our own political institution, we recognize under the British flag the same ideals of freedom and order which our fathers cherished; and we are conscious of a spiritual and intellectual unity with all who speak the English tongue and guard the common traditions. Wherefore we do no dishonour to the Great Republic when we say from full hearts, 'God save King George.'"
June 16, 2019
May I say something to our friends, especially among the students, who are just commencing to know the Advent, about our ideals? This church is free; i.e., it is the House of God, open freely to all God's children, not parcelled out into rented or owned pews set apart for persons specially favored. (This does not mean, of course, that worshippers are denied the opportunity of paying their debt to God through regular offerings at all services and in the poor-boxes. It is Catholic: it derives its Priesthood, the Sacraments they minister and the doctrines they preach, from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which our Lord founded upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. But is it also American, and is subject to the American Episcopate, acknowledging no alien authority whatever in things spiritual. Its worship is according to Catholic tradition as received through the Church of England. No law of the Prayer-book is violated, and all laws of the Prayer-book are observed here. If you see anything unfamiliar, come to the clergy, who will gladly explain it to you.
June 9, 2019
The Parish Profile published on June 4, 2019, describes the length of parishioners’ commutes — ranging from 20 minutes to 90 minutes or more. While we cannot provide the amount of time parishioners spent getting to church in the late nineteenth century, it is clear from the available data that the Church of the Advent has long attracted people from near and far, as shown by their places of residence recorded in the Communicants Roll, 1879: Auburndale, Belmont, Boston including South Boston, East Boston, Brookline, Cambridge including Cambridgeport, Charlestown, Chelsea, Canton, Dorchester including Fields Corner, Everett, Jamaica Plain, Revere, Roxbury, Rutland, Somerville including West Somerville, Watertown, Wellesley including Wellesley Hills, Winthrop.
Communicants Roll, 1879.
In addition to demographic information, occasional editorial notes are included, such as “drinks – suspended...left for Yokohama Japan 1881...Baptized and admitted to Holy Communion at City Hospital...now in Mexico on railroad work, do not know when he will return...received at St. Margaret's as Sister Maria....” and finally (in ink) "Popish recusant," which sparked a reprimand from a different writer (in pencil): "This entry -- an improper one."
Also notable are the number of people who listed hospitals, hotels, institutional homes, and schools as their home: Cambridge Theological School, City Hospital, Coolidge House, Fort Independence, Good Samaritan House, Home for Colored Women, Hotel Anderson, Hotel Berkeley, Hotel Comfort, Hotel Falmouth, Hotel Lafayette, Hotel Pembroke, McLean Asylum, Mission House (Society of Saint John the Evangelist), Massachusetts General Hospital, New Haven Hospital, Parker House, St. John’s School, St. Luke’s Home, St. Margaret’s School.
June 2, 2019
The soaring lines of the Advent have inspired artists and photographers from its earliest days. On Sunday, June 2, a new display case located in the foyer will debut postcards, photographs, and other images of the building’s exterior. Included in the exhibit: one of the earliest drawings of “The New Church of the Advent” from King’s handbook of Boston, 1889; the original of familiar image by Jack Frost, used on the cover of our service bulletins; an assortment of postcards and note cards, including the earliest color postcard (circa 1915) of the church; an Epiphany-themed depiction by Robert Turner Walker; a watercolor by Diane Cermak, a member of the Bell Ringers Guild; and a pen-and-ink sketch by Jean Holloway, used on the cover of the Anglican Digest.
May 26, 2019 – Memorial Day Weekend
The holiday we know as Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day in the years following the Civil War when an organization of Union veterans -- the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) -- designated a day in late May as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers, as we have done today on the plaque honoring Martha Sever outside the library.
Martha Sever (1839-1865) was baptized at the Advent by the Rt. Rev. Horatio Southgate (rector, 1851-1858) on March 8, 1855, when she was 16 years old. Her father had died a month earlier. Southgate noted that Martha was "of sufficient age to answer for herself."
During the Civil War, Martha was a nurse serving at Beverly, New Jersey, where she died of typhoid fever, age 25, in 1864. Before departing for New Jersey, she wrote her will: "Nov. 6, 1859. I give to the Church of the Advent for the building of a new church, ten shares in the Western Road, the interest to be used for the poor of the Parish till the time of the building of the new church. All this is provided it shall remain a free church; if not, one half shall be given to the Church Home for Orphans and the other half for a free bed (or beds) in the Massachusetts General Hospital."
The Parish Register includes this record of her funeral:
Tuesday 17th November 1864 was buried Miss Martha Sever of Kingston: she died of typhoid, Sunday 13th November at Beverly, N. J., aged 23 years; after a few weeks of earnest and laborious devotion to the comfort and restoration of sick and wounded soldiers with the military hospital, in which charitable work she was accompanied by her eldest sister, Miss Anna Sever. Service at the House 94 Chestnut St by R & A [Rector and Associate] the Rev Dr Bolles & the Rev Mr Stickney, and at the Cemetery in Kingston by the Rev. Mr. Locke. -- M[oses] P Stickney
The tablet honoring her and her gift, located on the wall inside the Mt. Vernon Street entrance, reads:
LO I COME
To the glory of God and in memory of Martha Sever,
who died in the service of her Lord and country,
at Beverly Hospital, New Jersey, Nov. 13, 1864, aged 25 years.
This porch was built by money bequeathed by her, a member of this parish,
who had the building of a new church much at heart.
May 19, 2019
Article from the Boston Globe, April 6, 1885 (Easter Sunday)
At the Church of the Advent yesterday there was a very large attendance, filling the spacious building completely. The decorations were very beautiful and in fine taste. On the altar steps were two beautiful azaleas, in full bloom, at least eight feet high, while on the altar were a dozen vases filled with choice cut flowers. In front of the reredos were five tall vases of cut flowers and 200 to 300 pots of rare specimens of the floral world. The pulpit was very beautiful, being adorned with passion flowers and vines. The screen was decorated with Southern moss and laurel. The regular music was augmented by five stringed instruments. S. B. Whitney presided at the organ, and the soprano soloists were Masters Warren, Imling and Nichols.
Father [Charles Chapman] Grafton was the preacher. He took for his text the words of our Lord when he met Mary at the tomb: “Touch me not, for I have not yet arisen.” The speaker then in very touching language showed that while Christ had not risen at the time He spoke with Mary He was risen today, and that all could draw near to Him and He would comfort and cheer them.
May 12, 2019
Transportation woes are not new to the Advent and her parishioners, as evidenced by these excerpts from the Rev’d William Van Allen’s Weekly Message:
“Wednesday, June 12, at 10:30 A.M., there will be a hearing at the office of the Massachusetts Railroad Commission on the question of an elevated station at the corner of Charles and Cambridge Streets. This would be a great convenience for all who worship here, or who live in this quarter of the city, so long deprived of adequate street-car service. I hope many of you will make a point of being present and speaking in favor of the station.” (1912)
“Who will assist us by lending carriages or motor-cars to the clergy for parish calling?” (1914)
And from the Rev’d Julian Hamlin:
“The new Charles Street Station should be a great help to parishioners living in Cambridge and beyond. Already many people have told us how much shorter it has made their trip to the Church. It goes a long way toward the solution of the transportation difficulties of many of our people.” (1932)
May 5, 2019
From the Rector’s "Weekly Message,” the Rev’d William Harman Van Allen:
October 4, 1914: “It is good to greet you all once more in this familiar fashion, even though I write the message three thousand miles away, in a hospitable English garden. When you read it, I shall be a day nearer you, God willing; for I expect to sail October 3, on the Lusitania, due in New York, October 8. Pray for our safe passage.”
Just seven months later—May 7, 1915—A German U-boat torpedoed the Lusitania 11 miles off the Southern coast of Ireland, sending her to the seabed in 18 minutes, resulting in the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew.
May 23, 1915: “The offering for Belgian relief at the Lusitania Memorial Service, May 14, was $134.11. So many demands have been made for the for the sermon preached at the Lusitania service, that I have written it out in full, and hope to have it printed in pamphlet form soon. Copies may then be had of the sexton; and I shall be glad of gifts towards the expense of publication.”
The sermon was printed and available just one week later. The amount given is equivalent to $3,401.12 in 2019.
April 28, 2019
On June 5, 1911, The Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser published an article about the chalice that is used on Christmas and Easter, made from gold and jewels contributed by the congregation.
That fashionable women of the Church of the Advent, Back Bay, Mass., in contributing ornaments and gems toward the casting of a chalice had parted with ornaments “merely plated with gold or of brass and supposedly precious stones consisting of glass and paste” was the charge made by Rev. William Harman Van Allen, rector of the church, in a sermon this morning. Although the rector did not accuse the women of having made the contributions with the intention of deceiving him, the intimation that they had been displaying at grand operas and social functions sham gems cruised a visible flutter of excitement among the congregation. The chalice was completed a few years ago and was intended as a memorial to Father George S. Daniels, a former curate of the church.
Is this an example of “fake news”? Here is Father Van Allen’s irate response, from his "Weekly Message" of June 18:
We have recently had an example of the absurd unreliability of some newspaper reports. At Pentecost, preaching about “the Touchstone of Truth,” I used … the illustration of the expert who determined what was gold and what gold-plate, what were jewels and what paste, in the collection of ornaments, etc., given here … for the great gold chalice. Whereupon, a reporter, ignoring all else, published a flaming account of how I “accused the congregation” of having offered imitation jewels to God; and the Associated Press represented me as having declared that “the larger part of the offering” were base! Reading these articles, one would suppose that my sermon was only a reproach to ungenerous or deceitful people: but nothing could be farther from the truth. In those gifts of jewels, a certain small proportion (offered in all good faith) was imitation, as is always the case. But the generosity and devotion of the congregation, in making their oblations with great gladness, were beyond all praise; and that is characteristic of you.
April 21, 2019 – Easter
This undated Eastertide photo of the Sacrament House or aumbry is by Arthur Haskell (1890-1968), one of the major architectural photographers in New England. Born in 1890 in Salem, Massachusetts, Haskell made the transition from high school student to draftsman, working for various Boston architectural firms over a ten-year period. As he became familiar with the practices of other architectural photographers, he experimented with the camera on his own. In the late 1920s Haskell started to take photographs for many of the leading architectural firms of the day including Ralph Adams Cram; Perry, Shaw & Hepburn; and Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott. In the 1930s, he photographed sites in New England for the Works Progress Administration’s Historic American Buildings Survey and later took pictures for historical and preservation societies. Haskell used an 8×10 inch view camera and printed black-and-white silver gelatin prints in a darkroom he constructed himself.
April 14, 2019 – Palm Sunday
The Rev’d Julian D. Hamlin (formerly rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport, Rhode Island) entered his duties as seventh rector of the Church of the Advent on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 1929, and was installed by Bishop Slattery on Advent Sunday. His tenure was brief; he resigned at the Easter meeting of the Corporation in April 1934.
In the "Weekly Message" for March 29, 1931, he wrote: “The singing of the lessons and of the Passion, and a part of the Palm Sunday Rite, will be omitted this year, because of the crippled condition of the clergy staff. Immediately after the Blessing of the Palms, the Choir will sing the ancient Antiphons during the Distribution, and as the palms are being distributed to the congregation, the people may be seated until the beginning of the Processions. The Palm Sunday Procession symbolizes our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The knocking at the main doors of the church is an ancient reminder of the knocking at the gates of Jerusalem.”
Following the sermon at Solemn Evensong for Palm Sunday, Mr. Frederick Johnson, Organist and Master of the Choristers, led the choir in the anthem “Richard de Castre’s Prayer to Jesus.”
Jhesu, Lord, that maddest me, / And with Thy blessyd blood hast bought,
Forgive that I have grieved Thee / With word and wil, and eek with thought.
Jhesu, in whom is all my trust / That died upon the roode tree,
Withdraw myn herte from fleshly lust, / And from all worldly vanyte.
Jhesu, for thy wounds smerte, / On feet and on thyn hands two,
O make me meeke and low of herte, / And Thee to love as I schulde do.
Jhesu, keepe them that are good, / Amend them that han grieved Thee,
And send them fruites of earthli food / As each man needeth in his degree.
Organist and choirmaster Mark Dwyer comments: This simple setting of “Richard de Castre’s Prayer to Jesus” was new music in the 1930s. It is in a modal and carol-like style which perfectly suits the 15th century text written by Richard de Castre, who was the vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in Norwich, England. It was composed by the Tudor-music pioneer, Richard Terry, who for the first quarter of the twentieth century was the director of music at Westminster Cathedral in London, where he established a magnificent choral tradition with repertoire comprised of Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony, and new works written especially for the cathedral choir by such composers as Howells, Holst and Vaughan Williams. It remains in the repertoire of the Advent Choir and occasionally appears on both the summer and 9:00 mass repertoire lists.
April 7, 2019
In 1865, the average daily weekday attendance was twenty-six persons, but during Lent the average daily attendance rose to 126. Here, the Lenten reflections of three rectors.
This, please God, will be our thirteenth Lent together, as Rector and people. What note shall sound most clearly in the harmony of our observance? In 1910, we praised God because of His Word; in 1911, we strove for greater charity; in 1912, we desired to know ourselves better; in 1913, we consecrated our intellects to loving God with all our minds; and in 1914 we begged for more of the spirit of Worship and Praise. Every Lent shows us the need of all these: but this year, when the whole world echoes with the groans and lamentations of such anguish as has seldom been known before, I bid you undertake even more earnestly than your wont the fruitful labor of intercession... Men are ready enough to join in material benevolences; and surely they are needed, in these days of wicked and wanton destruction, when Belgium, Poland, and Northern France are laid waste and their people starve except for the bounty of others less afflicted. You have responded splendidly to our appeals for them. Bur their cause is with the Most High, and our intercessions for those who suffer accomplish far more than our gifts, if they accompany the giving. All the other needs of mankind call to us for succour; and though we may be unable to help much in what are called “practical” ways by those who do not remember the power of prayer, we can intercede with the Giver of every good and perfect gift, confident that He will hear and answer... Let us have, then, a Lent of Intercessions,with our self-denial turned into helpful channels. The Belgian flag flying above the alms-chest will remind you of those who are in greatest need and those whose silent appeal is most eloquent; but we must remember the other who hunger and freeze and wander desolate. Give up altogether for the holy season such luxuries as you may perhaps lawfully use at other times, and turn over what you save to God’s Cause and God’s Poor. Find your way daily to the Habitation of God’s House; and come at least once a week to the Table of the Lord. Above all, love much: love God, love your friends, love your enemies; love God’s Church and all that pertains to her; love the Truth and Peace. And the very God of Peace be with you through the Forty Days and ever.
— The Rev’d William Harman van Allen, rector, 1902-1929; “A Lent Letter,” 1915
Words cannot contain the mystery of the cross. They serve their purpose when they bring us to our knees. Only in worship will we discover the depth of God’s love. Attend the Holy Week services, therefore, including Saturday, please. By worship, meditation, and fasting, you will be prepared to sing with joy the joy of the first Christians on Easter morning.
— The Rev’d Samuel J. Wiley, rector, 1960–1966; “The Message,” 1962. (The Saturday service consisted of Blessing of the Paschal Candle; Solemn Evensong, and Holy Baptism.)
Lent calls us to greater devotion and self-discipline. Most of us are too busy or disorganized to fit many spiritual exercises into our regular routine. The Church wisely recognizes our frailty and says, “Why not try to put a little more effort into the devotional life for six weeks? When Easter comes, you can relax gratefully into your former indifference. Why not give us some time for this short period?”
— The Rev’d Richard Holloway, rector, 1980–1984; The Beacon, February 1981.
March 31, 2019
The Rev. Dr. James A. Bolles, rector from 1859 to 1870, initiated both daily Mass and, more controversially, a vested choir--not only controversial but novel at the time. Some people objected to the vested choir, declaring they would leave the parish if Bolles carried out this intent. Undeterred, he announced in print that on the next All Saints Day the choir would be surpliced. In “The Beginnings of a Parish: A Paper read before the Men's Guild of the Church of the Advent, December 31, 1925,” George O. G. Coale reminisces, “The choir first appeared in surplices in Dr. Bolles’ day, and wonderful they were — very full circular capes of linen reaching to the ankles or below and open in the front, with a large black Oxford tie at the neck. They had no sleeves, but the sides were folded up upon the outstretched arms of the wearer and therefore he was obliged to hold his fore-arms horizontally in front of him for fear he would become sleeveless and his arms become helpless for the rest of the service. This was a cause of constant anxiety. Cassocks were not worn.”
March 24, 2019
“Our place of worship was thronged, the music was delightful, the congregation manifesting that engagedness in the worship which is contagious, and distinguishes us from any congregation in the city” — William Croswell, rector, 1844–1851, describing service of November 23, 1845. From A History of the Church of the Advent by Betty Hughes Morris (1995).
March 17, 2019
In 1911, the parish published “Parish of the Advent — Gifts and Memorials”, a slim booklet available for 25 cents. From the Preface: “The ground [for the Brimmer Street church] was broken March 21, 1878, sufficient money being in hand for driving the piles for the whole contemplated structure and for building the chancel…[which was] completed and walled off temporarily so that it could be used as a chapel until the completion of the rest of the church. The first service held therein was on Easter morning, 1879.”
March 10, 2019
“…There is probably no single parish in our whole country which has exerted a greater influence upon other parts of the church in raising the standard of churchmanship; nor one which has shared or does now share more largely in the sympathies and affections of bishops, clergy and laity. For these reasons I am especially anxious that we shall be loyal and true, as well as to our own Diocese as to the church at large; that the American Book of Common Prayer shall be our standard; that all our services shall be conducted in accordance with the spirit of this standard, and the simplest-hearted churchman would understand its directions in the most distant Parish of the West; and thus that our influence may not be lost, and that our example may be everywhere felt, and everywhere respected and safely followed.” — “A Salutatory Sermon,” First Sunday in Advent, 1859. The Rev. James A. Bolles, DD, Rector, Church of the Advent, 1859-1870
March 3, 2019
The original address for the Advent’s web site was http://www.chebucto.ne.ca/~ai072. From the 1997 Annual Report: “Initially set up on a volunteer basis, the site became official after being given the formal blessing of the Vestry in 1996. Access to the site has steadily increased. At the beginning of 1997, about 400 accesses per month were recorded to the main page, the months of November and December 1997 saw 624 and 629 access respectively.” In 2018, the site averaged 9,000 views per month.