St. Andrew’s Stained Glass Windows

stained glass

A Tour of St. Andrew’s Stained Glass Windows

James Cameron

November, 2005

Copyright © 2005 St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church; Photographs Copyright ©2015 Jennet Mae Jones


Remember here the Saints, Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs,
The Fathers of early days, the missionaries of the ages,
Remember all who have lived and died for Christ,
Leaders of the people by their counsels,
And those who have left a good name behind them.
Be not unmindful of those whose praises are not reported,
Who have left no memorial, but whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.
Remember all the holy men and women who have served God in their generation and those who are now serving Him here.
Remember the Master Builders, the Craftsmen, and the men, women and children who gave their substance to raise and keep this House and the windows of St. Andrew to the Glory of God.


Material for this narrative of the Tour of St. Andrew’s Windows was taken from “A Guide for Pilgrims” by The Rev. Charles W. Findlay, Rector 1923 – 1946, from notes compiled on a Window Tour by The Rev. Ralph Carmichael, Rector 1955 – 1975, and from material developed for the weekly St. Andrew’s electronic newsletter by parishioner Mara Elliott.

The Architect of the Church was Norman R. Sturgis. The church was built in 1930 and dedicated on April 19, 1931. At the Crossing, underneath the tower, in the pavement will be found a Roman brick with a descriptive tablet. This brick was brought from the Roman British town of Verulamium in Hertfordshire, Great Britain, the site of St. Alban’s Abbey, and commemorates the life of the Roman soldier, St. Alban, the first British martyr. He was put to death for his faith as a Christian during the persecution of Diocletion, Roman emperor, at about 300 AD.

The thirty-two St. Andrew’s stained glass windows are very unusual. They are all planned and related and done by the same artist, Burnham of Boston.

The origin of stained glass is not known — most likely it developed from mosaic and cloisonné. The oldest known church windows using stained glass were excavated in England at St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow. Early stained glass windows were narrow and let in little light. The development of Gothic architecture, which permitted wide windows, created an explosion of art and artistry in stained glass.

At a time when few could read or write, and many understood little of a church service conducted in Latin rather than the language of the congregation, stained glass windows served as “sermons without words”. The windows commonly told Bible stories, depicted saints and martyrs and displayed the symbols of the church.

Story windows, generally read from top to bottom, would show several scenes from a familiar Bible passage. To facilitate identification of their subjects, saints windows showed saints with their symbols or in a setting associated with the saint. John the Baptist, for instance, would be shown in a river wearing an animal skin. Many pictures showed the life of Jesus.

Subjects were chosen in various ways. Many were determined by the donors of the window, wealthy congregants giving windows as part of their tithe. These windows often incorporated a family name or crest into the design. Or even the face of a loved one( note the face of Elizabeth Rice in the tracery of the East Window — the angel holding the bread and wine, her parents donated this window) The medieval guilds which made the windows had a hand in choosing subjects, often the patron saint of the guild or town. Windows were also grouped in themes, showing the apostles in sequence or depicting the genealogy of Christ.

St. Andrew’s windows fit all these categories.

The important thing in stained glass windows is color and piecing. When outdoor light is dull, the blues predominate, and when it’s bright, the gold is brought out, and the ruby usually somewhere in between.

In this discussion there will be a few terms that may not be familiar. Two of them are:

narrow, sharply pointed window
ornamental work of interlacing or branching lines.

Stained glass is very durable. Many examples of glass from the Middle Ages still exist in the great cathedrals of Europe. However shifting walls and stonework can cause bulges and ripples in the glass. (The four windows in the Chapel are a good example of this.)

The Windows of St. Andrew’s

Major Windows

There are four main windows: Christ is central in each.

East Window
(where the altar is it is always East)Christ holds the book with the first and last letter of the alphabet, Alpha and Omega, signifying he is the first and the last, at the beginning and in the end. To the right of his head is the KI RO, the Christian symbol for Christ.He is flanked by Andrew, our patron saint, who was the first to call someone to Christ, and Peter, his brother, the one whom he called. In the tracery, the angel holding the bread and wine, has the face of an actual person of the parish, Elizabeth Rice, whose parents donated the window in her memory.
North Transept: Resurrection Window
This window represents the Resurrection. Christ stands over the open tomb as the three Marys( Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James) approach the tomb, bearing ointments. In the right lancet, Roman soldiers are struck with awe and in the left lancet the Angel of the Resurrection is seated on the cover of the tomb. In the tracery above a bursting pomegranate (a fruit of the area) and a butterfly symbolize new life.
South Transept: Ascension Window
Christ rises to heaven in a ruby colored cloud, studded with light blue crosses, of the love of God (Divine Love).In the lancets on either side of Jesus are the eleven apostles (Judas, of course, missing) and his mother, Mary, kneeling opposite St. Paul. In the lancets, beneath Christ cherubs and two angels hold a shield with a fiery chariot, symbol of Ascension. In the tracery we have again the alpha and omega, angels, clouds, and stars. Vibrant colors glorify the scene.
Great West Window: Te Deum
(Faces East window, therefore must be the West, whatever it may be geographically)“Te Deum laudamus.” (We praise Thee, Oh God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord) is emblazoned like a banner across the five lancets.In the central lancet, Christ is seated upon the heavenly throne, holding the orb of diety in his left hand — he is King of Kings — while his right hand is raised in benediction. He wears a crown and is clothed in light blue and white, symbolizing heaven and purity and he is surrounded by vibrant rubies denoting God’s love. He is flanked by the Arch Angel Michael, the guardian with his flaming sword and the Arch Angel Gabriel holding the stylized lily, symbol of purity. Other angels surround him, playing instruments in praise and adoration and still more angels in the tracery represent the hosts of heaven.In the lower lancets apostles, prophets, and martyrs represent The Church. St. Paul holds the book and sword and St. John the Evangelist the chalice. There is David with his harp, Moses with the tablets of the Law, Mary in the center, St. Stephen with the stones of his martyrdom, St. Catherine with her symbols, the spike, wheel and palm. There is a Greek doctor of the Church with a book and St. Augustine with the crosier. The brilliant colors with the bright gold of light symbolize the Glory of God.

The North Aisle Windows (9)

The North Aisle windows represent the New Testament.

Beginning at the “eastern” end of the church:

  1. St. John, who stayed with Mary at the Cross. The book represents the Gospel and the eagle denotes the loftiness of his writing. (This is often used in the shape of the lectern — not ours.) The chalice containing a serpent refers to the report of an attempt to poison the wine in his cup.
  2. St. Paul holds the sword of the Spirit — the word of God and the book which proclaims it. Three springs mark the place of his death.
  3. St.John the Baptist holds the cross and the banner — Ecce agnus Dei: Behold the Lamb of God . These are the words spoken by the Baptist in the Gospel of St. John the apostle. Water and bullrushes in the background signify baptism.
  4. St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist shows the Jewish background with the rod of Aaron. (12 rods represent the 12 tribes of Israel placed before the Ark by Moses — Aaron’s had sprouted and borne almonds, signifying that his tribe had been selected by God as priests). An altar is the symbol of Jewish worship. She holds the distaff, symbol of homemaking, denoting the female branch of Jesus’ lineage.
  5. St. James the Less, Apostle and martyr; his right hand holds a club as one of the symbols of his martyrdom, a saw and three stones are in the background; he was beaten, stoned and sawn asunder. In his left hand he holds a scroll.
  6. St. Anna was present when Christ, age eight days, was taken into the temple to be circumcised. She holds an open book with the alpha and omega (the beginning and the end) and is surrounded with symbols of Jewish tradition: the scroll of the law, a 7-branched candlestick, and the star of David at her right shoulder.
  7. St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr , holds the rocks with which he was stoned to death, and the palm of martyrdom.
  8. St. Luke, one of the evangelists, is historically known as the patron of artists. He holds an open book in his right hand in the attitude of preaching or benediction. The winged ox is a symbol of sacrifice; he emphasized the passion and sacrifice of Christ.
  9. The window at the end of the North Aisle shows an angel playing a musical instrument. This, with its companion at the end of the South Aisle, is framed with a 15th Century canopy in silver and white. The angels are adapted from the paintings or Fra Angelico.

The South Aisle Windows (9)

The South Aisle windows represent the history of the church.

  1. St. Alban, the first British martyr, was a converted Roman soldier of the first Christian century. The square hat typifies St. Alban. The fountain at the feet symbolizes the source of new life and the radiant sun the risen Lord.
  2. St. George is the Patron Saint of England. He wears a suit of armor and holds a sword in one hand, a lance in the other, with which he is slaying the dragon, symbol of sin. The shield in the background bears the cross of St. George.
  3. Joan of Arc, in golden armor and a skirt embroidered with the stylized fleurs-de-lis, flower of France, holds a sword and battle standard. In the background is her coat of arms.
  4. St. Francis of Assisi came from a home of nobility and wealth which he renounced to preach among the sick and the poor and to all God’s creatures, especially the animals.
  5. Thomas Cramer, Archbishop of Canterbury in the traditional robes of his time compiled the first English prayer book, our Book of Common Prayer, which he holds in his hand. The mitre and coat of arms of the archbishopric are in the background.
  6. John Wycliff, English scholar and teacher, translated the Bible from Latin into English. Shown are kneeling monk and a symbol representing Canterbury Hall, which he founded for a mixed body of monks and clergy and in which he was warden.
  7. Bishop Seabury, our first American bishop, was consecrated in Scotland, symbolized by its national flower, the thistle. He is depicted in vestments, holding the Bible. In the background is a bishop’s mitre on a cushion
  8. Bishop Doane, the first bishop of the Diocese of Albany, is shown in the shovel hat and gaiters worn in the English tradition and with him is his dog, Cluny, his constant companion.
  9. The Angel at the end of the South Aisle complements the one opposite, at the end of the North Aisle.

The Sanctuary Windows (2)

These are the high windows in the area beyond the rail containing the altar.

Flanking the East Window we have, on the left, the Archangel Gabriel, who foretold the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias and who announced to Mary that she would be the mother of our Lord.

On the right, the Archangel Michael, chief of the angelic host, stands as the guardian of the Jewish people, according to the Old Testament. In the New Testament he is portrayed as the great warrior fighting for God and His Church against the power of the devil.

The Clerestory Windows (8)

These are the high windows viewable from the Center Aisle, 4 windows on each side, above the South and North Aisles.

The windows over the South Aisle represent four incidents in the life of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness and remind us of the Hebrew heritage from which Christianity developed.

  1. The Burning Bush where Moses was first told by Jehovah to lead his people out of Egypt. It suggests the call of every person to serve God.
  2. Moses smiting the Rock from which God caused water for the healing and refreshing of His people.
  3. The Tablets of the Ten Commandments, the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
  4. A brass serpent, which God has commanded Moses to make and to raise on a pole, that those who had been bitten by a serpent might look upon it and be healed.

The windows over the the North Aisle represent the four evangelists of the New Testament:

  1. The eagle symbolizes St. John and the lofty flight of his devotion and inspiration.
  2. The winged man stands for St. Matthew who speaks more of the human nature of Jesus.
  3. The ox, symbol of sacrifice, represents St. Luke’s account of the Priesthood of Christ.
  4. The lion, symbol of royal dignity, which St. Mark emphasizes in his depiction of Christ.


DSC_0171DSC_0114 The Chapel Windows (4)

  1. The Annunciation is depicted with the archangel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Son of God. She kneels in awe of God’s favor.
  2. The Nativity, the story of the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus — a familiar Christmas scene
  3. The Presentation at the Temple. Simeon, promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah, takes Jesus in his arms and sings the Nunc Dimittis, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…”
  4. Flight into Egypt, a close adaptation of a painting by Fra Angelico. The angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him that Herod seeks to destroy the young child, and tells him to flee with Jesus and his mother into Egypt.