Saint Stephen's Church

News and events for the

week of March 19th

The Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare

Christ Healing the Blind Man, Gioachino Assereto, c. 1640

Sunday Mass Kalendars

Sunday's Low Mass Kalendar
Sunday's Solemn Mass Kalendar

Music of the Mass


Messe Basse

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)


Ave verum corpus

Gabriel Fauré


Adagio, from Symhonie III

Louis Vierne (1870–1937)

Fugue in G minor ('Little'), BWV 578

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

This Sunday sees a bit of “lifting” of the Lenten austerity, as our opening Introit bids us to “Rejoice!”, and the Lenten purple gives way to rose colored vestments. In the midst of our Lenten journey, Mother Church bids us to not lose heart nor lose sight of the goal that lies ahead – Easter, and Risen Life with Our Lord.

We were already reminded of that in a way this past Sunday, as we celebrated the Baptism of Elizabeth Grace Drake. It was a beautiful reminder that all our Lenten wilderness wandering is headed ultimately to the Font at the Easter Vigil, where having recalled Israel’s Deliverance through the Red Sea, we will renew our own Baptismal promises once again, as we celebrate the Passover of Our Lord, and the new Life he offers us through his Paschal sacrifice. How fitting it was, then, that last Sunday’s Gospel reading was about thirsting for waters that quench our deepest thirst.

This Sunday, we return to themes of Light and Dark, truth and falsehood, belief and action, that first appeared in the story of Nicodemus a few weeks ago. This time we meet a man born blind. His blindness and his healing are not so much the point, since in John’s Gospel it is always Jesus who is the point. Jesus uses this healing to point out the Pharisee’s own spiritual blindness, which is far more sinful than the supposed sin which has caused this man’s blindness. Yes, we know now that being born blind or with any birth abnormality are never the result of sin – but we must engage the Gospel in its own native context if we are to understand its meaning.

John’s point is that Jesus is the Light of the World, who has come to scatter all the darkness in our world, and yes, within our own lives. Our Epistle reading will exhort us to walk as children of the light, and we will likewise sing “I want to walk as a child of the light” at the Communion – one of the best hymns to come out of the “renewal style” in 20th century American hymnody. And our Old Testament reading will remind us that “the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” In Christ, we who are his Body are called upon to look at the world as best we can through the eyes of God, particularly those on the margins such as the blind man Jesus heals; not only does Jesus look at him with compassion – he reaches out and responds in compassionate action.

C.S. Lewis might just sum it up best, and these are the words which are engraved on his memorial floor stone in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”


Fr. Benjamin+

Visions from last Sunday...

Congratulations to Elizabeth Grace Drake who received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Glimpses of the divine: "Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord."

Easter Flower Donations

Help adorn S. Stephen's for the Feast of the Resurrection! Contributions are now being received for Easter Flowers. A full listing of both thanksgivings and memorials for the faithful departed will be printed in the Easter Kalendar. Envelopes are available in the back of the church and may be deposited in the offering plate or brought to the Parish Office. Deadline for submission is Sunday, April 7.

Fr. Merchant Remembered

Dear friends,

It was my privilege to have known Fr. Livingston Merchant and to have served as his curate for most of the time he was the Rector of S. Stephen’s (1977 - 1980.) Since there are only a few people in the parish now who remember Livy Fr. Benjamin invited me to share some of the things I remember about him.

I appreciated Livy’s warmth and desire to get to know people. When I first arrived in the parish in the fall of 1977, he invited me to the Rectory on Stimson Avenue for dinner with his family once a week until I was settled in and had established my own social life.

It was obvious to everyone that Livy was intellectually gifted. Prior to coming to S. Stephen’s he had received a Doctorate from Harvard in International Relations. While at S. Stephen’s, he started his second doctoral program at Brown (Asian History). I remember the morning Livy came into my office and was so excited because he had translated a Chinese poem about how a fish had seen its reflection in water and the philosophical truths that were revealed there. The look on my face told him that I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

Livy’s love of and facility with language is also evident in that he wrote an introduction to the language of Iraqi Kurdistan entitled Simply Sorani Kurdish. (If you are interested you can purchase a copy on Amazon for $15.99 plus shipping.)

In addition to the classes he taught in the parish, Livy introduced the renewal program “Cursillo” to the Diocese as a way for people to deepen their spiritual life and commitment to the Gospel. He was also wise enough to realize that this kind of renewal program was not for everyone.

Admittedly, Livy could be acerbic at times. When I first came to Providence I had a Ford Pinto with a standard shift, that I really learned to drive going up College Hill. After driving Livy to Cape Cod so he could pick up his father’s Mercedes, he said to me “I’m sure you will learn how to drive a car with a stick shift some day.”

However, I will also remember how an older parishioner was so appreciative when Livy apologized to her for something he thought might have offended her.

Livy certainly had a restless spirit. It is fitting that his last home, and where he wrote his last book (Writings of a Rootless Cosmopolitan: Short Stories from Around the World), was on Zakynthos, the Greek island where thousands of years before, Odysseus finally came home after decades of wandering.

Everything considered, what I have come to appreciate most about Livy, and will always remember about him, is how he accepted me for the person I am. He and I had very different temperaments, gifts and weaknesses, but our common desire to be followers of Jesus and serve as priests in his Church bound us together.

All that is left to say is “Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord: And let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Blessings, Michael +

Andrew Scanlon in Recital

Organist extraordinaire, Andrew Scanlon, will offer a 30-minute recital prior to Evensong & Benediction on March 26. Andrew's program will begin at 3:30pm. In addition, he will accompany the Schola Cantorum for the service. Mr. Scanlon currently serves as Associate Organist & Choirmaster at Church of the Advent, Boston. He is a frequent recitalist and clinician, having performed and taught throughout the USA, as well as in Canada,England, France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and Nigeria. His program will be as follows:

Les cloches de Hinckley, from Pièces de Fantaisie Louis Verne

O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV 656  Johann Sebastian Bach

Chorale Prelude and Fugue on ‘O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid’ Johannes Brahms

Lenten Series Continues,

this Sunday in Person!


Please note! This Sunday's session will be a hybrid session, where folks can choose to either participate over Zoom, or come to the Guild Hall at 5:00 for the discussion session in person, followed by the simple Lenten Soup Supper. (see your emails if registered, or go to S. Stephen's homepage for link).

The topics of the remaining sessions (March 19 and April 2) are:

  • For the Remembrance of Me: Memory and Real Presence
  • Becoming What We Receive: Broken Open and Sent into the World

The final session on April 2 will be over Zoom only.

Holy Week Schedule

Please join us as we embark on the most sacred journey of the church year.

April 2 - Palm Sunday

Blessings of the Palms and Low Mass 8:00 am​

Liturgy of the Palms, Procession, & Solemn Mass 10:00 am

Music by Herbert Howells 

April 3 - Monday in Holy Week

Evening Prayer 5:30 pm

Low Mass 6 pm

April 4 - Tuesday in Holy Week

Noonday Prayer 12 noon

Low Mass 12:10 pm

April 5 - Spy Wednesday

Evening Prayer 5:30 pm

Low Mass 6 pm

April 6 - Maundy Thursday

Mass of the Lord's Supper 7:30 pm

Music by Messiaen, G. Ives, and Lassus

Night Watch with the Blessed Sacrament 9:00 pm


April 7 - Good Friday

Solemn Liturgy and Veneration of the Cross 12 noon

Music by Victoria and King John of Portugal

Stations of the Cross 5:30 pm


April 8 - Easter Eve

The Great Vigil of Easter & First Mass of Easter 7:30 pm

Music by G. Ives, Bairstow, and Scheidt


April 9 - Easter Day

Morning Prayer & Low Mass 8:00 am

Sunday School 9:55 am

Solemn Mass with Brass and Timpani 10:00 am

Music by Peeters, Bairstow, Scheidt, and Widor

Coffee Hour & Easter Egg Hunt 11:30 am

Organ Recital, Evensong and Benediction, March 26

The S. Stephen's Schola will sing a service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction on Sunday, March 26th at 4 pm featuring works by Richard Ayleward, Jonathan Battishill, and Henry Purcell. The service will be preceded by an organ recital at 3:30 played by Dr. Andrew Scanlon, Associate Organist & Choirmaster at Church of the Advent, Boston. A reception will follow in the Guild Hall. Please plan to attend and bring a friend! Parishioners who wish to assist with the reception should click on the link below. 

This Coming Week at S. Stephen's

This Sunday 20 March

The Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare

Morning Prayer & Low Mass 8:00 am

Sunday School 9:55 am

Solemn Mass & Holy Baptism 10:00 am

Coffee Hour 11:15 am

Monday 20 March

S. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, 687

Evening Prayer 5:30 pm

Low Mass 6:00 pm


Tuesday 21 March

Thomas Ken

Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1711

Noonday Prayer & Low Mass 12:00


Wednesday 22 March

James de Koven

Priest, 1879

Evening Prayer 5:30 pm

Low Mass 6:00 pm

 Thursday 23 March

S. Gregory the Illuminator

Bishop of Armenia, c. 332

Noonday Prayer & Low Mass 12:00

Friday 24 March

Lenten Feria

Noonday Prayer & Low Mass 12:00


Saturday 25 March

Annunciation of the B.V.M.

Morning Prayer 9:30 am

Low Mass 10:00 am


Next Sunday 26 March

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Morning Prayer & Low Mass 8:00 am

Sunday School 9:55 am

Solemn Mass with Litany in Procession 10:00 am

Coffee Hour 11:15 am

Organ Recital (Andrew Scanlon) 3:30 pm

Solemn Evensong & Benediction 4:00 pm

For your Prayers

Prayers have been requested for: Charles Calverley, Fr. Norman Catir, Zulie Catir, Nancy Colby, Trudy Egan, Fr. Harrington Gordon, Katherine Hayslip, Bruce Lennihan, Sharon Lloyd Clark, Althea Norgriff, Bryan Ripley, Louis Verdelotti, Fr. Allan Warren, Christopher Whittingham.


Birthdays this week: Abigail Clarkin (3/20), Kathleen Gamez (3/20), Betty Jane Berberian (3/21), Sandra Calverley (3/21), Ernie Drew (3/22), Katy Gilchrist (3/23)


The faithful departed: Year’s mind: Edna Brazil (3/19), Tracey Barnes (3/19), Lucy T. Gregory (3/20), Rosa Ferri Fasano (3/21), Richard A. Mayforth (3/22), Anthony Verdelotti (3/25)


In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, we are asked to pray for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (3/19), The Diocese of Rokon, South Sudan (3/20), The Diocese of Rorya, Tanzania (3/21), The Diocese of Ruaha, Tanzania (3/22), The Diocese of Ziwa, Tanzania (3/23), The Diocese of Rumbek, South Sudan (3/24), the Diocese of Rumonge, Burundi (3/25).

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer, we are asked to pray for Church Beyond the Walls.

Giving to S. Stephen's

You can mail your pledge card or weekly/monthly offering to the church office, or pledge online here. Thank you for all the many ways in which you are already supporting S. Stephen’s. 

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