The Windows of St. John's

Article Index

Men have always sought to express their ideals and philosophies through the creative arts: painting, music, architecture. One which combines painting, design and symmetry is stained glass windows used in churches and other public buildings.

When it was decided to seek memorials such as furnishings and stained glass windows for the beautification of the church, the vestry passed a resolution that whatever memorials are placed in the church be only of the finest quality and workmanship and have the full approval of the rector and vestry. This policy has been strictly adhered to, resulting in the beautiful windows pictured and described herein.

After careful research and on the recommendation of Mr. Walter F. Petty, architect, The Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia was selected to do all the windows so as to have uniformity in quality and workmanship.

With the exception of the Nativity Window all of the windows were conceived and delineated by J. Kenneth Morris: that is, he determined the subject and did the research and specifications for the designs on which the artist based his work. All of the art work and craftsmanship was done in the Willet Studios under the direction of Henry Lee Willet, with whose cooperation and suggestions St. John's has been transformed into one of the most beautiful and worshipful churches in South Carolina.

The Windows of St. John's may be divided into two groups:

  1. Those with conventional biblical themes based on biblical events depicting biblical persons. These are the nine windows located at the north and south ends of the chuch. One additional window, depicting St. John the Evangelist, will not be installed until the church is completed.
  2. Those depicting historical events and persons in seven small panels surrounding a large central medallion which indicates the theme of the window. The subject matter chosen for these seven panels was determined through considerable research and by asking scholars in each field to list the seven most important persons and/or events connected with the theme of the windows. These windows are the large side windows in the nave.

The windows will be described in the order one views them upon entering the church from the narthex on Wheat Street and proceeding clockwise around the church's interior.

St. John's Church is of Gothic design; however, the building has never been completed: the present chancel is now included in what will be the nave and crossing of the finished structure. Completing the church will not add significantly to the seating capacity but will add much to its architectural beauty. The church will then be cruciform with a small chapel in the east transept and a baptistry in the west transept. A short open passageway will connect with Heyward Hall and a new altar window will be designed.

Click to EnlargeThe Pilgrims Window

THIS WINDOW, to your left as you enter the narthex, portrays the joy of those who enter the church in company with their Christian brothers to worship God in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The theme of the window is taken from one of the pilgrim's songs, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!' " (Psalms 122:1). To the psalmist the city of Jerusalem is an object of passionate love. He has come to the Holy City with a caravan of fellow pilgrims from his own neighborhood. All are filled with glad anticipation and sing joyfully as they approach Mt. Zion on which stands the Temple, shown in the apex. The Temple may have been a reconstruction of Solomon's Temple which was destroyed in 586 B.C. The building was exceedingly impressive in its grandeur. In the upper left of the window may be seen one of the palaces in Jerusalem.

Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalms 100:2, 5)

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Lillian Porcher Jones by her friends and sisters. Dedicated November 19, 1961.

The Ascension Window

THIS IS A three lancet window above the door as you enter the south facade of the church. In the center lancet is the Risen Christ in colorful robes held by two young men. In the apex is the word Jehovah in Hebrew signifying the return of Jesus to God the Father. The brilliance around the lower part of the figure is called an aureole, the symbol of divinity. In the background may be seen the skyline of the city of Jerusalem.

The eleven apostles and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, are shown below and in the two side lancets looking up in adoration and wonder as Jesus ascends before them. The inscription reads,

This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven shall so [continued on right lancet] come again in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11) AV

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Edmund Rhett Heyward, Edmund Rhett Heyward, Jr. and Allen Jones Boykin Heyward by the family. Dedicated September 13, 1953.

The Supper at Emmaus Window

THIS WINDOW is below and to the right of the Ascension Window. The Resurrection of Jesus was an event as cataclysmic as the explosion of the first atomic bomb - the world began to change after each event. The latter ushered in the nuclear fission age, the former a new vision of human dignity and the brotherhood of man: a world to be fashioned along the lines of unlimited dimensions of spiritual and moral growth. The spiritual and ethical demands of the risen, living Christ confront man daily as he strives to deal with the confusions and frustrations of human problems.

On the very day of the Resurrection, two disciples, one being Cleopas, the other may have been his son Simon, were on their way home to the village of Emmaus. While talking about the things that had happened that day, they were joined by a stranger. He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning the Christ. When they reached the village they invited the stranger to stay with them.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him [Jesus]; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24: 30, 31)

The window shows Jesus standing at the table with the two disciples. In his hand he holds a loaf and on the table is a cup. The disciples show their amazement as they recognize the Master. On the floor is a bowl, pitcher and towel used by each to wash his hands before eating; and then, according to their custom, to wash their feet.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Charles Ellis Morris, Rosa Rabb Morris, Jennie Morris Howard, John Levi Jones and Minnie McKnight Jones by their children. Dedicated October 16, 1960.

The Church History Window

POWELL MILLS DAWLEY in Chapters in Church History says,

The immediate challenge presented to the Church in each generation is to bring the redemptive power of the Christian Gospel into the historical situation in which men live ... Church history, then, is the story of God's redemptive activity among men.

This window is not only to remind us of God's redemptive activity in the past, but to help us realize its relevance for us today.

The history of the Church is replete with dramatic events. Men fought, bled and died in upholding great moral principles and in witnessing to their Christian faith.

The central medallion shows the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church.

And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind . . . And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit...(Acts 2:1-4)

They went forth to preach the Good News of a new life for all believers and the Church began to grow and spread throughout the world.

The bottom left panel is a meeting of the Council of the Church about 48 A.D. in Jerusalem, presided over by James. Two great issues were before the Council: (1) Should Gentile converts be made to pass through the Jewish ritual before being admitted into the Christian fellowship; (2) Should Jewish Christians eat with Gentile Christians. The Council said "No" to the former and "Yes" to the latter. If the answer had been "No" to the second issue it would have divided the Church into two separate groups and rendered futile the vision of one universal Church. In the Christian fellowship all races and nationalities are one in Christ Jesus.

The panel at the bottom right carries us to the Council of Nicea, 325 A.D. It met in the presence of the Roman Emperor Constantine who had embraced Christianity. The great issue centered around the nature of Jesus. Who was he? The issue was settled with the adoption of the Nicene Creed:

"He is God of God; Light of Light; Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; .... "

The panel above the Council of Jerusalem shows St. Augustine (354-430) writing The City of God.

Opposite this panel on the right is a historical scene in the 13th century. St. Francis of Assisi is shown kneeling before Pope Innocent III. Under him the papacy reached its highest actual worldly power. By contrast we have in St. Francis the humility and devotion of a true disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ who came not to wield secular authority, but to rule men's hearts by love and through them to bring justice and peace to all mankind.

The upper left panel shows Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the village church in Wittenberg in 1517 and setting the fires of the Reformation which was to light the way for those great communions of Lutherans, Anglicans and Presbyterians.

Across the window on the right we have Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, author of The Book of Common Prayer, first issued in 1549. Under Henry VIII and Edward VI Cranmer was very active in the Protestant movement in England. When Mary came to the throne in 1553 Protestantism was banned; Cranmer was thrown in prison; many Protestants were put to death; others fled the country; the Prayer Book was banned. Cranmer was excommunicated and pressured into signing a recantation denying Protestantism. But on the day of his execution by burning, March 21, 1556, his courage returned and as the flames leaped upon him he put into them first the hand by which he had signed the recantation.

At the bottom of the window is shown the Rt. Rev. Charles H. Brent speaking before the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. This marked the beginning of the Ecumenical Movement, an outstanding characteristic of the Church in the 20th century.

There are many symbols in the border and background associated with the seasons of the Church year. Also there are shown the flags of those countries where the Anglican Communion has established (by 1960) independent national churches.

At the apex is shown the serene victorious Christ with arms outstretched in blessing his Church. Beneath is the dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit who dwells in the Church and in the heart of each member; for all are members of his Body, the Church, and individually members one of another.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of George William Sharpe by his wife and daughter. Dedicated December 18, 1960.

The Bible Window

IS IMPOSSIBLE to estimate the value of the Scriptures to Western Civilization - art, drama, music, poetry and fiction all have been influenced by the Bible and all have drawn upon its rich resources of suffering, love, hate, war, evil and righteousness. Its influence on believer and non-believer, heads of state, parliaments and congresses, statesmen and leaders in all walks of life has been profound. If the Bible with its influence could somehow be removed as though it had never been, almost everything worthy of note in Western civilization would be non-existent.

Our Western civilization, culture and traditions; our philosophy of government; our moral code; our whole judicial system that holds a fine balance between right and wrong, justice and injustice, government by law and anarchy are all built upon the premise that there is a Supreme Being, revealed in the Bible as One holy, righteous, personal Being. To be more specific He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived and died at a definite time and place in history, and who manifested in His life and work the true nature of God.

The central medallion depicts Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:16-19)

The two small panels at the bottom of the window portray, on the left, Moses receiving the tablets of stone on which were engraved the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, (Exodus 20:1-17; 24:12) and on the right, Elijah being transported to Heaven in a flaming chariot: (II Kings 2:11) Moses, the law giver; and Elijah, representing the great prophets.

The first gospel was written by St. Mark while in Rome (c. 75 AD.). It was in his mother's home in Jerusalem that the Last Supper was held. He may have been the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested. It is said that Mark wrote down everything Peter said. In his gospel Jesus is the son of God whose way of life was the way of the Cross, which way his disciples must follow. It demands renunciation, losing one's life to save it. He is shown against the background of the burning of Rome (c. 64 AD.) Below the central medallion to the left is shown St. Mark's symbol: the winged lion, probably used to emphasize the royal lineage of Christ, the Lion of Judah.

The next gospel, St. Matthew, was written by an unknown author. It derives its name from many quotations from the "Sayings of Matthew". The writer was well educated and may have been a converted Jewish rabbi. It was written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Its purpose was to encourage the Jewish Christians. The writer had St. Mark's gospel before him and incorporates much of it in his own story. Behind St. Matthew is shown the destruction of Jerusalem while above him is the seven-branch candlestick representing the Temple and synagogue worship. The symbol of St. Matthew, to the 'right and below the central medallion, is a winged man symbolizing the Incarnation.

St. Luke wrote his gospel about 85 AD. He was St. Paul's "beloved physician" and was also the author of the Book of Acts. Luke says he investigated thoroughly the life of Jesus. He had available the gospels of St. Mark and the one we know as St. Matthew. He also had special sources of information. His gospel was written somewhat as an apologia of Christianity primarily for Roman imperialist readers and to prove that Jesus' mission was not just to the Jews, but to all men. The panel shows St. Luke, scroll in hand, interrogating a witness to the events in the life of Jesus. His symbol, left and above the central medallion, is the winged ox symbolizing sacrifice.

The last of the four gospels is the one by St. John. However, it was written perhaps as late as 110 A.D. It is not known for sure whether the John who wrote it was the Apostle. It is a spiritual interpretation of the life of Jesus and reflects the teaching and conviction of the Church at the beginning of the second century. Its main purpose is to prove the divine nature of Jesus. Above the central medallion to the right is shown the symbol of St. John, the eagle symbolizing inspiration.

At the apex of the window is depicted St. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9) while above is the symbol of the Trinity from which streams the blinding light.

At the bottom of the window is an open Bible with the words, "God is love" (I John 4:8), 5 and above the flaming sword of the Spirit.

Around the border are shields of the Apostles.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of The Rev. A. G. B. Bennett, The Rev. G. Croft Williams and The Rev. A. Rufas Morgan by members of the congregation and friends. Dedicated February 22, 1959.

The Education Window

THERE HAVE BEEN periods in the history of the Church when it seemed the Church was opposed to secular learning. But the mind of man energized and stimulated by the Spirit of God cannot be bound. Knowledge must increase. Man's innate curiosity about his world and universe cannot be denied. He is destined to ask why, how, when, where. How else can God reveal his truth to him? He must forever go about probing into all kinds of hypotheses in his search for answers to endless questions.

This window illustrates God's concern for the increase of knowledge and the Church's intent that good learning flourish and abound. The greatest teacher of all time was God incarnate in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, "The truth shall make you free". (John 8:32) In support of its dedication to enlightenment and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Church has established schools and universities in many lands.

The large central medallion shows Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Surrounding his head are the triradiant nimbus indicative of his membership in the Trinity.

In the bottom left panel is Clement, third century Greek theologian. His personal influence on the young Origen was great. They are shown together in front of the Parthenon of Athens as a symbol of the debt of Christianity to Greek philosophy. Origen died c. 251 A.D. as a result of torture received in the Decian persecutions.

On the right side in the bottom panel is a monk illuminating a manuscript indicating the part the monasteries played in nourishing learning during the earlier middle ages.

The center panel on the left shows Archbishop Thomas Cranmer composing the Prayer Book of 1549, a masterpiece of Elizabethan literature.

Across the window to the right and typifying the strong influence of preaching on life and morals, is a representation of Phillips Brooks (1835-93) as he appears in the statue by Saint Gaudens which stands beside Trinity Church, Boston. Behind the statue of this famous American preacher is a figure of Christ.

The panel in the upper left side portrays the facade of Christ Church, Oxford University founded 1133, and the famous Tom Tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

In the upper right panel are two outstanding institutions of learning: The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, founded in 1823, and the University of the South, founded in 1857.

At the apex of the window is Robert Raikes, founder of the Sunday School in 1780: a school which met on Sunday for the benefit of poor children who worked in the mines and factories of England. From this beginning the Sunday School movement has spread around the world enrolling millions of children and adults.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of The Rev. A. G. B. Bennett, The Rev. G. Croft Williams and The Rev. A. Rufas Morgan by members of the congregation and friends. Dedicated February 22, 1959.

The Children's Window

THE CHURCH has shown interest in children and their welfare in many ways, especially in the last century.

The central medallion shows our Lord with the children of the world. He embraces all in his love regardless of color, creed or national origin.

The small panel, bottom left, is a baptismal scene - actually in St. John's Church. The priest holds the baby while the parents look on as the child through baptism is made "a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." (1945 BCP, p. 283)

Opposite this panel on the right is depicted the rite of Confirmation when the child, having reached the age of discretion, comes before the congregation and makes his own profession of faith and promises to follow Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. (1945 BCP, p. 297 ) Then the Bishop*, laying his hands upon the child's head, prays that he may "daily increase in the Holy Spirit more and more .... " (1945 BCP, p. 297 )

The small panel, lower left of center, represents a nurse in a clinic examining a child. The Church has established in many parts of the world orphanages, hospitals, clinics, welfare centers, day nurseries and other institutions for the care of children.

Above this panel is a teacher and her pupils representing the many Church schools, Sunday and parochial, established in parishes and missions at home and abroad.

The small panel, lower right of center, shows a procession of young people following the cross carried by an acolyte.

The panel next above portrays a minister in a pastoral counseling session talking with a couple about some problem or preparing them for confirmation, marriage, or the baptism of a child.

In the apex is a marriage scene, and life's process of procreation starts again for another generation.

In the top background is a double ring and cross symbolic of marriage; in the bottom background, the dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit over the symbol of the world under the Cross.

To the right of the baptism panel is a scallop shell, generally used in Christian art to signify the pilgrimage upon which the baptised person embarks for life. At St. John's, a silver shell is used in baptism to pour water upon the head of the recipient. The three drops of water symbolize the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Christian is always baptised with water and in the name of the Trinity.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of George Bissell Reeves by his wife and son.
Dedicated May 8, 1955.

*The artist has left the Bishop's sleeve unbuttoned!

The Nativity Window

THE WINDOW is carried out in varied medallion designs decoratively and symbolically treated. In the central medallion is the Nativity of our Lord. The Christ Child, bathed in the light of the Star and enclosed in a vesica, is the focal point not only of this medallion, but of the window. On either side close by are Mary, the mother, and Joseph with his budding staff, while above and below are shown the angels who brought the glorious message, "On earth peace, good will toward men". At the left and the right are ass and ox, and doves of peace: peace that can come only to a world motivated by the love of Christ. Below the manger is the Lamb, symbolizing Jesus as " ... the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

In the surrounding border are eight medallion scenes in smaller scale relating to the birth and childhood of Jesus. Beginning at the bottom left and proceeding clockwise, these are as follows:

  • The Annunciation, showing the Angel Gabriel giving to Mary the message, " . . . 'Hail, a favored one, the Lord is with you!' ... ' ... you have found favor with God. And behold, you will . . . bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.' " (Luke 1:28-31)
  • The Visitation, showing Mary as she cries to Elizabeth, " . . . 'My soul magnifies the Lord ... ' " (Luke 1:46)
  • The astonished shepherds are portrayed as they heard the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14)
  • In the upper left medallion is shown the Presentation, depicting Simeon as he cried out, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, . . . ." (Luke 2:29)
  • In the upper right medallion are the Wise Men, who have seen the Star in the East, setting out in search of the Christ Child, laden with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
  • Following this we see Joseph, having been warned in a dream, fleeing with Mary and the Christ Child into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
  • Jesus is seen in the Temple at the age of twelve, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. When his mother found him there he said, " . . . Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49)
  • In the last medallion, Jesus is shown in the carpenter shop being instructed by his father, Joseph, thus giving an example of filial obedience and the dignity of labor.

The inscription reads, "Glory to God; on earth peace and good will".

When the church building is completed this window will be moved to the west transept which will be the baptistry.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Nellie Parsons by a friend. Dedicated February 27, 1944.

The Medical Window

THE THEME of this window is "God's Concern for Human Suffering". All through the ages God has sought to aid and direct man in his efforts to understand and conquer the many physical and mental problems he faces. As in all of God's dealings with mankind he is not limited by man's religious dependence on him, but uses men of all faiths and none - anyone through whom he can reveal scientific knowledge.

The central medallion shows Jesus healing the paralytic who was brought to him by four friends (three of whom are shown). First, Jesus forgave the man his sins. When the scribes questioned his authority to forgive sins, he raised the question whether it were easier to forgive the man or to heal him. Then turning to the man he said, "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose . . . and went out before them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:1-12) There are emotional problems connected with all illness. Some illnesses are caused by guilt, fear, and anxiety. Jesus first relieved the paralytic of guilt. Then healing followed as Jesus reassured the man by telling him with confidence to get up. And he did.

Standing by Jesus is a little lame girl looking on in amazement and wonder, "Perhaps he will heal me!"

The small panels in the border depict some of those who have made outstanding contributions to medical science.

Let us start with Hippocrates, called "The Father of Medicine". He was born on the island of Cos off the coast of Asia Minor in 460 B.C. The height of his career is placed about 400 B.C. He was said to be the first not to allow his medical judgment to be influenced by preconceived ideas. The Hippocratic Oath, taken in a modern form by all physicians, is attributed to him.

Galen of Pergamum, who lived about 130-200 AD., was a Greek physician. He began the study of medicine in 146 AD. and settled in Rome in 164 AD. He was the founder of experimental physiology and after Hippocrates, the most distinguished physician of antiquity.*

William Harvey was born in 1578 and died in 1657. He was an English physician who lived in London. His great contribution to medicine was his discovery of the circulation of the blood which "has been the basis of the whole of modern rational medicine".

Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 and died in 1910. She was born in Florence, Italy, and named after that city. She grew up in England. In 1854 she went to Crimea and was soon given general superintendence of all the British military hospitals on the Bosporus. She was "the effective founder of the nursing system in England" and had profound influence on nursing everywhere as an indispensable aid to the medical profession.

In the bottom right panel are shown Leonardo da Vinci [The name da Vinci on the window is an error. It should be simply Leonardo of the full name da Vinci - da Vinci designates the place where he was born in the Tuscan hills of Italy] and Louis Pasteur. Leonardo was born in Vinci, a village in the Florentine territory, on April 15, 1452. He was the main exponent for a school of art which studied the anatomy of the human body in order to portray in art the true form. His knowledge of anatomy profoundly influenced the scientific development of medicine.

Pasteur, a French chemist, was born in 1822, the son of a tanner. He made many contributions to medical science, including conclusive evidence that fermentation is the result of minute organisms, and that invisible organisms are always present in the atmosphere, which revolutionized surgical practice. He established the germ theory, and developed a system of innoculation against rabies in animals and man.

The panel in the bottom left portrays St. Luke, called in the New Testament "the beloved physician," (Collosians 4:14) ministering to St. Paul whom he accompanied on some of his missionary journeys. Luke was the author of the Gospel that bears his name and also of the Book of Acts. He was probably a Gentile convert to Christianity.

In the apex of the window is a scene in a modern operating room showing the surgeon, his assistant and the anesthetist.

In the lower field of the window are a microscope and a caduceus. In the upper portion is a church steeple surmounted by a cross symbolizing the spirit of Christianity in the service of humanity working with God to relieve human suffering by witnessing to God's love as he seeks to meet human needs.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Marion Sanders Emerson by her husband. Dedicated May 8, 1955.

*J.S. Pendergrast, reprinted by permission, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 edition, Vol. 9, p. 972.

** Charles Singer, M.D., ibid. Vol. 15, p 200.

The Music Window

THE WINDOW emphasizes the influence of music on the Hebrew-Christian tradition. Judaism and Christianity are both singing religions. Their services from ancient times have used the Psalms, canticles and great hymns of praise, adoration and aspiration to move the hearts of men and inspire them to noble living and great deeds of love and sacrifice.

In the center of the window is the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus surrounded by singing cherubs. Beneath, shown in small scale, kneeling, are adoring shepherds. The inscription "Gloria in Excelsis" is reminiscent of the angels' song announcing Christ's birth.

In the lower left corner are Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1526-94) , who had great influence on church music. At the lower right are Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Charles Wesley (1707-88), representing authors of great hymns. Above Bach and Palestrina, David is shown as a shepherd with his harp and the opening words of the Twenty-Third Psalm in Latin. Opposite David is Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826), compiler of the first Anglican Hymnal and the author of that great hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty".

Above these panels, the canticles, "Venite Exultemus Domino" and "Te Deum Laudamus" respectively, are represented by the choir and trumpeters of Solomon's Temple and a present day choir of men and boys.

At the apex of the window is illustrated the development of the organ influenced by the syrinx or Pan's pipes, which was the first instrument to embody the principle of wind through pipes, and in the background an interesting medieval organ blown by hand-pumped bellows.

Throughout the border beginning at the top right (1:00 o'clock) and moving clockwise are shown many archaic musical instruments: the toph or tambourine, the hatsotsra or horn, the kinnor or national harp of Israel, Bermi-Hasson lyre, khatsotrath or rams horn, nebal, a kind of harp, lute, sistrum, syrinx or organ of Jabal.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Our Mothers by members of the congregation and friends.
Dedicated May 5, 1957.

The Civilization Window

SEVERAL IDEAS lie behind the conception of this window: the dignity of man; the nobility of work; the industrial development. But its main theme is God, the author of civilization. The Spirit of God has directed man in learning to control the forces of nature and use of natural resources. But man has achieved his goals only as the result of hard thinking and hard work, patience and dedication, all under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit. It is not necessary that men be in the Hebrew-Christian tradition for God to use them - only that they be dedicated to the search for truth wherever it may be found: through science, philosophy and/or religion.

The central medallion shows our Lord at work in his shop. He was a working man, probably a carpenter like his father. Jesus by his example extolled the dignity of labor.

The male and female figures at the bottom, center, mark the beginning of the human race. "God created them male and female" - which emphasizes sexuality by which man procreates his species in the spiritual image of God, combats loneliness and stabilizes the family. Between the figures is a monogram of Jesus Christ and the Greek letters Alpha and Omega symbolizing his oneness with God from beginning to eternity.

The small panel at the bottom right of center shows the discovery of fire and above an anvil. At the bottom left of center is a panel depicting the development of agriculture, and above a plow. Above the anvil are weights, balances and coins to indicate commerce and banking together with an hourglass to mark the measurement of time. Opposite, on the left side, is the printing press and above a telegraph key. Next up on the right is a microscope, and above a rocket. Opposite, on the left side, is a tractor, and above a can. When man learned to preserve food he gained the means to abolish famine. At the top on either side of center are scenes portraying the vast industrial complex of modern civilization: the railroad, factories, the steamship and graneries. In the lower background of the window are a stone hatchet, one of man's first tools, a wheel representing one of man's great discoveries, a plane showing man's feat in using the skyways. At the very top of the window is the star of David with the Hebrew name for God in the center; next under, the symbol of nuclear fission; and under that the dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit by whose guidance man, under God, has achieved all that we call civilization.

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Our Fathers by members of the congregation and friends. Dedicated March 8, 1959.

The Micah-Amos Window

THE JEREMIAH AND ISAIAH WINDOWS commemorate two of the major prophets of the Old Testament, while the Micah-Amos Window commemorates two of the minor prophets. Micah's ministry probably extended over the period 714-700 B.C.; Amos' ministry 783-745 B.C.

Micah's home town, Moreshath, was a frontier village. Micah was, therefore, concerned about possible enemy attacks. He was probably a village craftsman who fashioned swords and spears as well as plowshares and pruning hooks.

The Assyrians had already conquered Israel - the Northern Kingdom - and now threatened Judah. Micah believed that Judah's strength lay not in implements of war but in promoting good international relations and in a moral reformation acceptable to God. He deplored the wastefulness, desolation and despair war brings to those who long for peace. He yearned for the day when

He [God] shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:3)

In the window we see Micah on the left holding in his left hand a pruning hook and in his right arm a wooden plow with the plowshare attached. Behind him is a sword and spear, discarded, no longer needed, perhaps waiting for him to fashion them into instruments of peace. In the left background we see an outline of his village.

To Micah, the solution of the world's problems lay in the heart of man and in dealing justly with all men.

He has showed you, a man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Amos lived in the town of Tekoa, south of Bethlehem. He was a shepherd and grazed his sheep on the stony slopes of limestone hills: a desolate area in which lurked lions that preyed upon the sheep.

Amos knew God as he saw Him revealed in the harshness of the wilderness and in the storms that raged in the hills and swept through the valleys - an uncompromising God whose moral strength and love of righteousness were as severe as the elements.

The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had prospered greatly. The rich had multiplied; so had the poor. Amos, knowing of the social conditions in Israel, left his village and went to the city of Samaria. He was appalled at the indifference of the rich toward the wretched poverty among the people. Burning with righteous indignation, he attacked the social order and the ruling classes preaching,

. . . they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes they . . . trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and turn aside the way of the afflicted; (Amos 2:6, 7)

In a vision, Amos sees God holding a plumb line testing his people to see if they measure up to his requirement for righteousness.

The true plumb line, our Lord Jesus Christ, confronts us today. But knowing how far out of plumb we are, he offers those who truly repent forgiveness, hope and a new life.

Amos is shown under a sycamore tree holding his shepherd's staff with his left hand and a plumb line with his right. In the background are a flock of sheep grazing and, beyond, the hills of Judea. Behind Amos is a lion ready to attack.

As we read the inscription we can hear Micah calling from the distant past, God "has showed you, O man, what is good: . . . do justice ... love kindness . . . walk humbly with . . . God."

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Elizabeth Ramsey Stewart by her husband. Ddicated October 31, 1971.

The Jeremiah and Isaiah Windows

THESE TWO WINDOWS, opposite each other in the Tower Vestibule, will be treated together. Jeremiah (c. 650-570 B.C.) and Isaiah (c. 742-701 B.C.*) were men of God, true prophets and great patriots. They loved their native land intensely and gave their lives in their attempts to lead the nation into a spiritual rebirth and peaceful relations with neighboring countries. According to tradition Isaiah was sawn asunder by his countrymen and Jeremiah, failing in his mission, was dragged off with his people to Egypt to die in exile.

These men were in constant conflict with constituted secular and religious authority. In their patriotic zeal and religious fervor, which were so mingled as to be inseparable, they brought upon themselves hate, ridicule and persecution. To them religious truth and political justice were one and the same. All men were subject to the law of God who has no favorites and shows no partiality. The people were infuriated by the attacks made upon injustices and prejudices, because they knew, of course, that what the prophets said was true and upset the status quo. But convinced that their messages were inspired they dared preface them with "Thus says the Lord, .... "

The Jeremiah Window

ACROSS THE TOP of the Jeremiah window are the words of the prophet, "The Lord is our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6) with which he strove to awaken his people to the realization that salvation and deliverance are from God alone.

Jeremiah is portrayed as a man of strong features and physical strength for only such a one could have endured the terrible ordeals he experienced. He identified with his people in their estrangement from God and with God as his spokesman. In the turmoil of his soul he turned to God, but instead of promising him rest and peace, God said,

I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. (Jeremiah 1:18)

So, in the upper left of the window there is a bronze wall and an iron pillar, symbolic ·of Jeremiah's strong character and uncompromising stand against evil and injustice. Battled, beaten, bruised - he never yielded in seeking to reconcile God and man.

In the background of the window are mountains with a lively stream of water cascading into waterfalls and moving across the lower foreground below the figure of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah stands holding his staff in his left hand, and his left foot on the rim of a stone cistern; with his right hand he points to the river flowing below.

Cisterns were widely used in those days to hold water. This particular one was hewn out of rock - but, this one was broken! Not only have his people turned away from God, but they have defiled the land with their immoralities, while authority is in the hands of worldly priests and rulers who care nothing for righteousness. Jeremiah cries out,

Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12, 13)

To Jeremiah this is the tragedy of all tragedies; here is the river of living waters, flowing full, clear and free; and the people seek water from a broken cistern that can hold no water!

In the apex of the window is a basket of ripe figs representing the Jews taken away in exile who found God as a spiritual Being not confined to the Temple. Those left behind in Jerusalem were so bound by orthodoxy and external ritual that they failed to grasp the spiritual values in the worship of God.

Near the head of Jeremiah is a yoke. One day Jeremiah went before the people wearing a yoke, symbolizing that God is supreme over all nations and had used Nebuchadnezzar, a heathen ruler, to punish the Jewish nation. He believed that God directs all nations according to his purpose.

Around the broken cistern and in the right foreground are blossoms of the almond tree. To Jeremiah the almond blossoms signified that God is awake, alert and is watching over his people to guide, direct, and to forgive and restore when they do wrong and repent.

Jeremiah's message to us, as we enter and leave God's House, is, "God is awake. He is with you. He loves you. He keeps watch over his own."

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory J. Lewis Smith, Sr. M.D. by his wife. Dedicated May 3, 1964.

The Isaiah Window

ISAIAH IS KNOWN as the statesman-prophet. His ministry began about 742 B.C. and ended perhaps in 701 B.C. He served in Judah under one regent and four kings. He condemned "religious disloyalty, social injustice and the depravity and rapacity of the upper classes."** Isaiah was convinced that God participates in the affairs of men and nations.

But when he lays bare his soul's experience of the sovereign grace of God, when he looks on life with unveiled eyes and sees events shaped by a sovereign purpose, when he calls for that faith which is the resting of life upon a sovereign goodness, he makes his own distinctive contribution to prophesy and religion. These are the words he was sent to speak.**

The window depicts the call of God to Isaiah in the 6th chapter: "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the Temple." God is represented as a brilliant light coming from a throne with streams of light radiating throughout the window. In the lower left is a flaming altar. There are three seraphim, each has six wings: with two he covers his face, and with two he covers his feet, and with two he flies. They call to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6:3) Isaiah cries, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5)

One of the seraphim, touching Isaiah's lips with a coal from the altar, says, " . . . Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." (Isaiah 6:7) Then Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Like prophets from that day to this who hear God's call, Isaiah answers, "Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

The inscription on the window reads, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." (Isaiah 6:3) AV

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Thomas Hugh Robinson, Sr. by his family. Dedicated June 2, 1963.

*These dates are aproximate for his active ministry.

** R. B. Y. Scott, The Interpreter's Bible, Nashville, Tenn.: Abington Press, 1956, Vol. 5, p. 161.

*** Ibid, p. 164.

The Women at the Tomb Window

THIS WINDOW is to the left and below the Ascension window. It depicts the three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, who went to the tomb on the first day of the week to anoint the body of Jesus, as was the custom in those days. When they reached the tomb they found the stone, that had been placed at the opening, rolled away.

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:5, 6)

The young man holds up to Mary Magdalene, kneeling before him, the crown of thorns. At her feet are an Easter lily and a pomegranate, symbols of the Resurrection. In the background are the other two women, one of whom holds a jar of spices.

He has risen - these three words form the greatest watershed of history. Everything that has flowed from them - the creation of the Christian Church, the gospel of the resurrection, the Christian experience of the living Christ, the great social forces let loose as a result of the new evaluation which the resurrection put upon man - all these bear their witness to the reality and transforming power of the event itself.*

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Pierre Fabian LaBorde, Sr. by his wife and children. Dedicated June 2, 1963.

*Halford E. Luccock, The Interpreter's Bible, Nashville, Tenn.: Abington Press, 1951, Vol. 7, p. 912.

The Commandment Window

THE PILGRIMS WINDOW, the first window described which faces this one across the narthex inspires those entering the church to go in with glad and thankful hearts. The Commandment Window encourages those leaving the church to go forth into the world with loving hearts for all people.

Our Lord is seen walking in the portico of Solomon with a group of the Apostles. This portico was on the east side of the colonnaded ambulatory of Herod's Temple. During the Jewish feasts the Roman soldiers walked on the roof of the porticoes to see that order was kept in the streets below.

The inscription on the window are the words of our Lord to his disciples, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) The Japanese Christian leader, Kagawa, said, "The world is dying for want of love." Our Lord bids us to show the world the saving power of love as revealed in his death and resurrection. Love's capacity to forgive is unlimited: this, the world needs to know and experience if lasting peace and justice among men and nations are to be achieved. Jesus commands his followers to be the first to love men into the way of peace. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Adolphus Fletcher Spigner, Jr. by his wife and children. Dedicated April 8, 1962.

The St. John Evangelist Window

THIS BEAUTIFUL rose window is designed for the east transept of the completed church which will contain a chapel. It will then be opposite the Nativity window, now in the chancel, but which will be moved to the baptistry (west transept). The color reproduction of this window has not been done, pending the completion of the church.

The window depicts important events in the life of St. John the evangelist.

The center scene shows Jesus calling John, a young man, to leave his fishing nets and follow him. (Matthew 4:21, 22) On either side of the central scene are two well-known symbols of John: on the left the chalice from which emerges a serpent, referring to a legend that John's enemies tried to murder him by poisoning the communion wine; on the right the eagle who was said to have the ability to soar until lost to sight and still retain its ability to gaze into the blazing mid-day sun - so John soared upward in his interpretation of the divinity of Christ.

Around the center, in semicircular medallions, are scenes from the life of John. Beginning at "seven o'clock" and going clockwise we have the following scenes:

  1. John is shown with his brother James as they prepare to leave their nets to follow Jesus. (Matthew 4:21, 22)
  2. John, with Peter and James, witnesses the healing of Jairus' daughter. (Mark 5:22-24; 35-43)
  3. John, Peter and James, go up into a high mountain with Jesus, who is transfigured before them and

    his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light . . . a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matthew 17:2, 5)

  4. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, is shown leaning against him at the Last Supper. (John 13:23)
  5. John and Mary, the mother of Jesus, stand at the foot of the Cross.

    When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple [John] whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19: 26, 27)

  6. On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty,

    so she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple [John], the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." (John 20:2)

    The two disciples ran to the tomb and looking in saw that the body of Jesus was not there.

  7. This medallion shows the risen Lord when he appeared to John, Peter and other disciples as they were fishing in the Sea of Tiberias. (John 21)
  8. The last medallion shows John and Peter laying their hands upon the converts in Samaria and praying that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:17)

The inscription in the window expresses the belief of the Church in the divine nature of Jesus at the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. when The Gospel According to John probably was written. The inscription reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Lewis Albion Emerson, Lillian Taylor Emerson, Charles Albion Emerson and Lewis Azro Emerson by the family. Dedication awaits completion of church.

All descriptions of windows, scriptural quotations and window images included in this section of our web site are from The Windows of St. John's, published by St. John's Episcopal Church, Columbia, SC in 1972 and copyrighted the same year by J. Kenneth Morris, Rector of St. John's from 1941-1943 and 1945-1960. Printed copies of The Windows of St. John's are available to parish members and visitors in the narthex of the church. Slight modifications to the text have been made for this on-line publication for clarity.

Text © 1972, by J. Kenneth Morris. All rights reserved. Window Illustrations © by The Willet Stained Glass Studios and used by permission.