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Michaelmas — A New Beginning

St. Michael the Archangel, with friends Gabriel and Raphael (and sometimes Uriel), is a Feast Day celebrated in our liturgical calendar on September 29.

Tradition credits Michael with great power in defeating Satan and his minions in the Great War in heaven. As we inch ever closer to the colder days of winter, Michael serves as our angelic protector against the earthly forces of darkness, and it is no accident that Michaelmas (a contraction of “Michael’s Mass”) serves as the traditional beginning of the academic year where education and discourse illuminate the “wisdom of the ages.”

For us at St. James-in-the-City, Michaelmas serves as the official beginning of our programmatic season – a homecoming of sorts, where we gather in force to equip ourselves for the work of the Church in the months ahead. This Sunday, we observe the Feast with the return of our Choir of Saint James singing Solemn Holy Eucharist, replete with ancient Gregorian chants, a modern Mass setting by William Mathias (1934-1992), a renaissance setting of the beautiful medieval text O Quam Gloriosum est Regnum (How glorious is the Kingdom) by Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611), and the much loved Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels) by César Franck (1822-1890). How appropriate to celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels by lifting our voices in hymns and spiritual songs alongside the angelic voices of our choir! Our ancestors knew the power of music to repel the forces of chaos and darkness. Let us participate in that ever-ancient, ever-new “cosmic harmony” in all our comings and goings, in our relationships with one another, and especially as we begin together a new season of service and growth in Christ!

– Canon Jim Buonemani