From the Chaplain's Desk:
At the entrance of the Senior Circle, the Saint James Chapel stands as a sign of the School’s commitment to holistic education. We gather as a community each morning, regardless of our diverse religious commitments, to remind ourselves, as Fr. Dunnan often says, that we are not alone. Education is not just about acquiring information, but about becoming the kind of men and women of virtue who can, in the words of the School’s mission statement, be “leaders for good in the world.”
As an institution steeped in the high church, sacramental tradition of the Oxford Movement, the Chapel represents, for many of our students (and staff) an oddity: We worship with “smells and bells,” with challenging choral music, and with the expectation and hope of congregational participation. This is a strange new language for many in our community, but one that many grow to appreciate, even if they remain firmly rooted in their own religious (or even non-religious) convictions.
The Chapel is, after all, a place consecrated for worship in the Episcopal Church. We do not hide that identity or try to flatten it into something more generic. I have found, in fact, that the more confident we are in this tradition, the more free we can be to welcome all people without anxiety. My hope is that all students will find at Saint James a place for both comfort and challenge — the encouragement to deepen roots and understanding, as well as the possibility to question and learn something new.
The Revd. Samuel Keyes
301-733-9330 ext. 3007
Senior Sacristan: Maggie McFillen '19
Senior Marshal: Jakin Jeong '19
Senior Thurifer: Jack Guillard '19
Sacristans: William Wu '19, CJ Dumebi-Kachikwu '20, Angie Antoine '20, Teddy White '20, Stephen Harvey '20
Senior Usher: Mary James '19
Ushers: Thomas Bacon '20, Mark Spicher '19, Rosy Lin '19, Taylor Spikell '20, Rachel Levasseur '20
Senior Reader: Jack Walker '19
Senior Choristers: Victoria Vando '19 and Elsa Jenkins '19
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the student body and faculty gather for about 15 minutes. This simple service consists of a hymn, a short reading, a talk or homily, and daily prayers. Talks are given either by the clergy (Fr. Keyes or Fr. Dunnan), other faculty members, guest speakers, or 6th formers reading a “senior essay.” Friday mornings, with the exception of periodic form meetings, we have either Contemplative Chapel — featuring student musical performances — or Holy Hit Parade, a hymn-sing.
Most Wednesdays the School gathers for Solemn Mass (a.k.a. “long chapel”), a Rite 2 Eucharist following the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (1979) with full choir and incense. In addition to the choir, many students serve as acolytes, readers, sacristans, and ushers. Lay faculty members serve as chalice bearers.
Typically the Chapel is closed outside of term, but an exception is always made for Christmas Eve, when local students, families, and alumni often return for the festive Midnight Mass (actually at 10 p.m.), the first Eucharist of Christmas. Sometimes current students and alumni form a pickup choir, and often former acolytes and sacristans step up to serve.
Holy Week is always observed in the School calendar. Occasionally Spring Break cuts into Palm Sunday, but school is always in session for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
The service of Lessons and Carols is based on one first used at Truro Cathedral in 1880 at the instruction of Bishop Edward Benson (later Archbishop of Canterbury). The service was later adapted for use at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge University, in 1918 by the Dean, the Very Reverend Eric Milner-White, who also wrote the Bidding Prayer. At Saint James, students, faculty, staff, and parents read the lessons, while the Chapel Choir responds with a beautiful series of carols and anthems.
The readings trace the history of God’s redeeming acts: from humanity’s fall from grace, through the expectant watchfulness of the people of Israel, and finally to the birth of the Messiah. The readings reach their dramatic conclusion with the solemn proclamation of the God who became flesh and who dwells with his people.
Lessons and Carols is a venerable and popular tradition of Saint James School, usually celebrated on the third or fourth weekend of Advent. The Chapel is adorned for Christmas, and many families, alumni, and guests visit campus for this candlelit entrance into the Christmas season.