It is time. Shadowy figures fastening voluminous cloaks at their necks hurry toward the chapel with a vaulted ceiling. A pregnant hush envelops them with freshness. Excitement mounts. From radiators steam heat crisps the air, commingling with the freshly waxed corridor.

Through arched doors they stream up side aisles to their choir stalls beneath stained glass windows, toe out their kneelers, ease themselves upon them, then open their Libers. Before them, red and white poinsettias pattern the sanctuary like a grandmother’s quilt. Fat beeswax candles ooze upon bronze holders and thrust light-flickers into the gloom.

Outside, snowstorms howl at the night, deepening the Cold War‘s grip on the world.

A note from a pitch pipe shimmers the silence. As one, everyone stands, faces each other, and bows. The chanting begins. From side to side, strains of the great penitential Psalm 51, Miserere Mei Deus swell the timbered rafters.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, in Thy great goodness…cleanse me from my sin… create a clean heart within me…renew a right spirit within me…open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall sing Thy praise….”

With the final Amen, tower bells gong in the New Year.

Moments of silence follow. Then, more chanting. This time, the Te Deum, hymn of thanksgiving in union with the whole heavenly realm.

“We praise Thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord…”

And so it goes. These women are in love.

This was in 1960, global prayer offered from the Kenwood Chapel, Albany, New York. I was among them.

A blessed New Year to you and your loved ones!

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