What to Expect When You Visit St. Paul’s on the Hill
One of the great glories of New York is the enormous variety of peoples and cultures to be found here. This is reflected not only in the membership of our Episcopal churches, but in the richly diverse ways in which we worship each Sunday and on special occasions throughout the year.
At the heart of all Episcopal worship is the Book of Common Prayer, and within it the principal weekly service is the Holy Eucharist—also known as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Mass.
For each Christian season, the Book of Common Prayer lays out the form that the service should take, and provides the text for most of the prayers. A calendar of readings from the Scriptures, called the “Lectionary,” lays out which biblical passages should be read each day. Typical services will mix readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. In every case, while a priest leads the service, our congregation participates extensively—singing hymns and speaking or singing prayers, the creed, responses and psalms.
Exactly what one does when—should you be kneeling, sitting or standing? Should you sing or speak the responses? When do you say Amen? —can be a bit of a puzzle to a newcomer, but because the essential form of the service remains the same from one Sunday to the next, you soon get used to it—and after that you will begin to experience the mental space that the familiar rhythm opens up to commune more profoundly with God.
The Book of Common Prayer provides a fixed framework, but not a rigid one. One church may begin with a more or less elaborate procession of priest(s), acolytes and choir, and in another with the priest standing on the steps in front of the altar. New York’s Episcopalians infuse their services with their own traditions from around the world and give each of them a unique character.
St. Paul’s-on-the-Hill’s Services
Communion is offered every Sunday. Our services are usually Rite II with music. Rite II is a portion of the Book of Common Prayer containing worship services which use more modern language. Our altar is open to everyone.
Our Services Are Conducted at 9:30 a.m. Every Sunday Morning.
Services are conducted in English. Our music is lead by our choir, except in the summer. We enjoy using two hymnals the traditional Hymnal 1982 and Lift Every Voice And Sing.
St. Paul’s shares its priest with Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining. Therefore, our priest is generally present every other Sunday. Sundays when our priest is not present, we either have a supply priest or Morning Prayer conducted by lay leaders.
The Morning Prayer service is usually on the third Sunday of the month. A simple Communion is generally offered shortly after 9 AM for those desiring it prior to Morning Prayer.
On months with a fifth Sunday, St. Paul’s and Trinity congregations share a service at either St. Paul’s or Trinity.
On the third Sunday of each month a simple communion is available before Morning Prayer.
Morning Prayer is lead by parishioners who share their inquiry, lives and thoughts. The addition of lay led Morning Prayer has broadened our liturgical perspective greatly. Morning Prayer leaders earnestly share their struggles with the Lectionary and their lives. They serve as windows of God’s witness “on the Hill” and beyond.
The development of the Morning Prayer leaders is typical of ministry at St. Paul’s. An open invitation to serve was delivered from the pulpit and through the bulletin and volunteers swelled the ranks beyond the expectations of the our priest.
A service tailored especially for families with children is held at 5 PM on the 3rd Sunday of each month, except when the 3rd Sunday falls on a holiday. This service is led by our Priest and aims to engage children as active participants. It is shorter and more casual than our Sunday morning services and is open to “kids of all ages.” The Family Service includes communion. (Note: this service is currently a pilot project that will take place from January to June 2017.)
Shared Services with Trinity Episcopal Church, Ossining
In months with five Sundays St. Paul’s alternates as either host or guest congregants with Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining, our sister parish.
Shared Services during Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas
St. Paul’s on-the-Hill, Trinity Episcopal Church, and All Saint’s Episcopal Church, the “Landmark Churches” in Ossining celebrate and share services and programs during Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas.
Please check this website or St. Paul’s Facebook Page for seasonal programs.