If possible I try to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and this year it was. The good Fr. Andrew Mead preached on the absolute necessity of contrition (from the Latin contritus, "ground to pieces") before attaining grace and cited King David, who after impregnating Bathsheeba, ordererd her husband Uriah's commander Joab to abandon him on the battlefield. The prophet Nathan called out David for his wickedness and David's repentence took the form of Psalm 51, Misereri Mei, Deus.
As they do every year when the ashes are imposed but especially befitting considering the sermon, the superb choir of men and boys sang the haunting setting of Psalm 51 by Gregorio Allegri. The choir is justly famous for their singing of this work, indeed they are famous for everything they sing. In the quiet, dignified and beautiful setting of Saint Thomas Church, it was good and restoring to forget, at least for a time, the battles raging in our Church today and just pray for the state our souls. I am also thankful to God for Saint Thomas Church and their unexcelled practice of orthodox Anglican worhip.