All Souls Church contains 26 stained glass windows. The purpose of the windows as works of art is to give pleasure, joy, and inspiration, rising to ecstasy.
All Souls Stained Glass Windows
All Souls Church contains 26 stained glass windows. The purpose of the windows as works of art is to give pleasure, joy, and inspiration, rising to ecstasy. They are primarily designs and only incidentally pictures. They are not pictures made transparent. They are windows made beautiful. They attempt – what in lesser hands would be sacrilege – to glorify the Light, one of the most precious of God’s creations – and they succeed. Even on days when the sun is hidden they shine gloriously.
The windows are called stained glass, but actually the glass is not stained – the color is in it. It is put in when the molten glass is being made. The glass is not clear. It intentionally contains a myriad of tiny bubbles that break up the light and make it scintillate. Shading to delineate human features, folds of garments, details of costume and such small symbols, letters, or accents, is painted on to the surface of the glass, modifying the inner color. This is baked, indestructibly, to the glass when it is fired during the course of the long process of design and assembly. One of the last stages of the construction of the windows is to join them with flexible unions of lead. In many of the windows, and notable in the Resurrection window, these lead lines contribute powerfully to the design. In the Resurrection window, the lines all stream upward, giving the feeling that the central figure – the Christ – is indeed risen.
The Meaning of the Colors
Speaking of the meanings of the colors in the All Souls’ windows, Connick, the designer, wrote to the church in 1943: “From the rich spiritual regions of the Middle Ages we have inherited a symbolism of color that is still recognized in our workaday world. The red cross of devotion and sacrifice carries its message around a stricken world not to remind us that in the twelfth century, pure red was the color of Divine Love, of passionate devotion, of self-sacrifice, courage and martyrdom."
“Blue immediately glows before us as the graciously supporting color of red, so we acquiesce with those wise colorists who said that blue is the contemplative color, the color of Divine Wisdom. Blue also symbolizes eternity, heaven itself, and the steadfastness of enduring loyalty that in our speech of today we call ‘true blue’."
“Green, the color of hope, springtime, youth and victory."
“Gold, which we characterize in the expression ‘Good as gold” the mediaeval masters said symbolizes treasures, worthy achievement, and the good life."
“Violet, a combination of blue and red, symbolizes justice, mercy, pain and penitence. It forms in some ancient windows a beautiful background for shimmering silvery white, the symbol of faith, of the light of truth, of peace and serenity, a radiant and significant symbol that is most beautifully expressive in the words: ‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.’ (I John 1:7)”
Whenever Christ is shown – whether infant, teacher or risen Lord – his nimbus (halo) is distinctive and it is different from all other nimbi. It has the tri-radiant patee form, three members of a cross, curving outward at the ends, and depicted in red or gold. Except in the case of the infant Jesus and the risen Lord the garments are usually a red robe over white. St. Peter, always robed in green and gold, usually carries the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). St. John, the Evangelist (writer of the fourth gospel,) is always shown beardless because of his youth, whereas the other three evangelists, as seen, for example, in the Chancel window, are bearded. Women, except in the unexplained case of Eunice in the Faith window, are always shown with shoes of the antique, buskin type, while men are commonly barefoot or with sandals only. Evil is depicted by a particularly disturbing shade of green, as found in the dragon in the window in the north transept gallery and the devils who are besieging Job in the central panel of the Hope window.
Click on the links below for pictures and design details.