Stained Glass Windows

A history of the 27 Biblical Lancets in St. Peter's Church, written by Rev. Canon Richard Davies

On a beautiful Sunday morning in October, 1958, the congregation of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Brentwood, Pennsylvania joyfully assembled in a new Church structure to initiate worship around the free standing marble Altar. Even before the worship service began, everyone realized there was a problem. The interior of the Church was bathed in morning sunshine coming through twenty-seven lancets of frosted glass which lined both sides of the nave and the sanctuary. The interior of the church was so bright on that sunny day that the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal could not be read by most of the congregation. 

This problem quickly became the primary topic of evaluating our new Church home. An obvious solution was to replace the frosted glass with stained glass in all of the windows. Traditionally, most churches will have one or more stand alone windows that present a single Biblical figure or symbol in each frame. In this contemporary Church, there are a total of twenty seven linked and one stand alone window.

Several ideas were proposed and examined. The Rector, the Rev. Richard Davies, suggested that we take our daylight problem and ask how can we make it an asset rather than a liability? Could we translate the essence of the Old and New Testaments into contemporary conjoined lancets of colorful art and symbol? The Bible has been translated in literature many times in history. This unique Biblical stained glass proposal was explained to the Vestry and the congregation. The project was favorably received. 

The next step was to select a stained glass studio and its craftsmen to produce the new windows. We turned to a Pittsburgh studio which had served many local congregations. The challenge of linking Biblical imagery and text was presented to two artists at the studio, and conversations to clarify the design were held. Preliminary sketches were made and approved before full size cartoons for the initial lancets were completed. The stand alone Altar Resurrection window was the first to be installed. The first side lancet to be completed is from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. The names of all donors to this project would be entered in a Book of Remembrance, rather than being included in the glass. 

The impact of the initial windows was positive and all of the remaining windows were in place within several years. As was intended, these wondrous stained glass windows and their Biblical history quickly began to be used as teaching aids in sermons, for church school classes, and to visiting Church groups.

1 Adam and Eve

The Bible begins with a vivid picture of Creation, the Garden of Eden, a paradise of beauty, goodness, and worship, which God intends man to enjoy. (Genesis 3:1-8) God saw all He had made and it was Good. God placed a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before Adam and Eve who were free to taste the fruit (see two fruits, right side above). Mankind was given the gift of making choices. The serpent denied God's warning of making wrong choices. When Eve and Adam chose the fruit of Evil, God removed them from the Garden (see the sword) until He would hear them repent the disobedient choices they had made. The gold crescent is a symbol of hope. The Greek word for fish is ICTHUS. In Greek, it is spelled with only five letters, with each of the five letters standing for Jesus Christ, God's Son Savior. (See the tempting serpent wrapped around the world, bottom right.)

2 Sower Good Seed

Jesus is the eternal Son of God. It is fitting that God's Son is noted in each page of the Old Testament. He is the sower of good seed over Creation, to bring forth a second Garden of Eden for mankind, whom God still loves despite their choices to reject His Will. God called the righteous Noah to build an Ark for his family and clean male and female creatures. (Genesis 7:1-5) When the flood receded, the planting of the good seed began (see the Covenant of the Rainbow), which God made everlasting between Him, and Man, and every living creature. (Gen. 9:12-13)

3 Abraham is tested

When man sins he might try to save himself from his faults. God's plan is to touch man's heart by working with faithful men and women, starting with a Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17: 2-10) and his wife Sarah, their son Isaac, and all of their descendants in Canaan. Next, God tested Abraham's faith to make a burnt sacrifice of his son, Isaac. (Genesis 22:1 -14) Abraham prepared to make the sacri-fice. A ram was caught in a bush. (right side) The ram was to be the sacrifice, not Isaac. God blessed Abraham for being willing to obey God in this test, even with its extreme personal cost to his family. God did not omit the sacrifice of His own Son, but gave Jesus to be our Savior. (Romans 8:32)

4 Jacob Renamed Israel

Abraham and Sarah's son was Isaac, who married Rebekah and they gave birth to twins boys, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was mean tempered and he bought Esau's birthright when Esau, a hunter, was faint and ill. The twin brothers disliked each other. (Genesis 32:24-30) In a dream, Jacob and an angel wrestled until dawn. The angel prevailed and Jacob's thigh was bruised. The angel told Jacob henceforth he would be named ISRAEL. Israel wanted to make amends with Esau. He went and found Esau who welcomed his brother. They embraced and they wept together. Under ISRAEL'S left foot (see above) is a tempter serpent. Creation once had one language and few words. (Gen. 11:1). Mankind took pride in building a tower to be the center of their worship, saying it was a ladder to heaven. (Gen. 28:11-12) God challenged man's false pride, leading to the dispersion of mankind and confusion due to having different languages which were called Babel. A Tower of Babel (see bottom left corner) was built by confused people to be their center around which they would gather to worship their own deity.

5 Commandments

Commandments Israel, formerly named Jacob, and his eleven brothers have been called to be God's special people to assist in fulfilling God's plan to save mankind. The Son of God (center above) stands with outstretched hands to the right of Israel who stands in the Covenant's rainbow. At the right hand of the Son of God is Moses, who holds the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments are engraved. Man needs help to know what God calls good and evil. If God is to dwell among His people, they must be fit for His presence. The Law was not a burden to an Israelite. It was a treasured privilege. "Oh, how I love thy law." (Psalm 119:97.) The Law became the distinctive feature of synagogue worship. However, Christianity is more than just a set of rules to be kept. God acts in and through man's faith.

6 Naaman, a Leper

God acts through, not contrary to, the natural order of life, which He created for mankind to have. Naaman was a high Syrian army officer ill with leprosy that turned his skin burnt red. His wife's maid referred him to the prophet Elisha and he ordered Elisha to heal him. Elisha told him to wash seven times in the Jordan river. That was not fancy enough for this Army Officer. He wanted to be healed in his own way. He did agree to wash in the Jordan river and his skin became pure white again. (See figure above.) Gehazi, who was Naaman's servant, stole the thank offering meant to be given to Elisha for the healing. Gehazi also got what was not his, when he became a leper. (Il Kings 5:1-27)

7 Joseph Egypt

8 Moses Food

9 King David

10 Prophets and Isaiah

11 Hosea

12 Jeremiah Moses

13 Advent

14 Christmas

15 Epiphany

16 Covenant Meal

17 Good Friday

18 Easter

19 Easter Dawn

20 Christ the King

21 Emmaus Disciples

22 Jesus' Baptism

23 Unction

24 Matrimony

25 Ascension

26 Pentecost

27 After Pentecost