Hyattsville Church Window

Slide Presentation Script

Back To The Story

"The two-panel facade window in the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, Maryland, is executed in one of the new techniques - faceting - developed to beautify the contemporary state of church architecture. The window is composed of brilliantly colored glass, usually an inch in thickness, but up to two or three inches for special effects.

Using an elaborate full-sized pattern, the craftsmen first cut these pieces of glass to nearly precise size. Then, each piece is chipped, or faceted to enhance the design and add to the jewel-like quality.

Each section of the window is carefully laid out within a frame and a matrix of epoxy is poured around the glass--first on one side and then on the other, holding the pieces in place and forming a structural unit of great strength. No supports are required in a faceted window section as would be needed in one of ordinary stained glass. The thickness of the glass makes it unnecessary to control the light by the use of texture painting. The faceted pieces of glass assure the breathtaking radiance and complete purity of color which is characteristic of this medium.

This faceted window, one of the largest produced by the Willett Studios, is of heroic dimensions with some figures being larger than life-size. It measures twenty-five by forty-six feet and to properly photograph the figures in its middle and upper sections an elaborate scaffolding would be needed. Therefore, the slides used to describe the subject matter of the window were made from the original lumiere or color transparent pattern and lack the sparkle of those made directly from the colored glass.

The iconography or subject matter of the window was planned to read on several depths. The largest forms tell of the Trinity: The hand which overlays the left half of the window represents God the Father--the tremendous hand measures twelve feet.

The large figure of Christ the Son which dominates the left half of the window tells by its great size the importance of God in Christ--the Resurrected Christ is the largest single figure, nine feet tall;

And, the figure of the Dove which overlays the right half of the window signifies the Holy Spirit.

This three-fold symbol of God suggests that beneath all the events and truths presented in the window is the creative redemption and sustaining power of God.

At the top the two windows are joined together by a globe of the world which is abstractly treated to suggest also the circle--symbol of the oneness of God. These are carried-out in pastel blues and fragile grays and contrast with the more brilliant tones of the figures and backgrounds.

A closer view of the window reveals that it abounds with symbols of our faith, tells the Bible story from Adam to Paul and pays tribute to the founders of Methodism.

Chronologically the story begins in the left panel at the bottom with the small scene of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, by the Angel with the flaming sword. The Way of Salvation begins with man's fall.

The next scene is Abraham being interrupted by the Angel in his sacrifice of Isaac. Here is a beginning of a more human religion for God's chosen people.

Next are the prophets in a line--

Amos - One of the most important of the prophets. A shepherd who spoke out against corruption and evil in society.

Isaiah - A young Jerusalem Aristocrat whose prophetic words about the coming messiah are so often quoted.

Jeremiah - The reluctant prophet who went, never the less, and warned his people of the end result of evil.

Elijah - The prophet who kept turning up to speak words of warning to those in power.

And Hosea - The man who married the wrong woman, but whose love in the face of rejection gave a foretaste of that perfect love that was to come.

To complete the contribution of the Old Testament, cradled in the hand of God, is Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law from a golden cloud.

To the left of Moses the Incarnation is shown. Here are Mary and Joseph adoring the Holy Child in the manger crib attended by ox and ass. The whole scene is illuminated by the Star of Bethlehem.

Above Moses, Christ is shown preaching His Sermon on the Mount to the assembled multitude.

The Life of Christ culminates in the great figure of the Resurrection. Here the Saviour rises triumphant from the empty tomb holding aloft the banner of victory of life over sin and death.

The ancient symbol of the Resurrection--that mythical bird, the Phoenix--rises up beside Him. The Phoenix was thought, instead of dying, to set fire to her nest and to rise up rejuvenated from the flames.

At the top are the symbols of the two Sacraments of Baptism and Communion given the church by the Saviour.

The escallop shell pours out the water of life symbolizing baptism and above it the chalice and bread are flanked by grapes and wheat reminding us of the body and blood of our lord.

Above all is the Chi-Rho (XP) the ancient monogram signifying Christ who is indeed above all.

The right panel of the window commences at the bottom with some scenes from the Acts of the Apostles and continues to the story of the ongoing church.

In the lower right is Stephen, the first Christian martyr

And Phillip baptizing the eunuch, symbolizing the showing of Christ to the Gentiles

The large Dove of the Holy Spirit is descending--overshadowing the faithful who gathered together at Pentecost to listen to Peter Preach. Each of the group has a small tongue of fire over his head.

Also in the shadow of the Holy Spirit is Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus.

Next is Martin Luther nailing his thesis to the door of Wittenberg Church--the decisive action which marked the break with the Catholic Church in Rome and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

At the top of the Dove, John Wesley, the founder of Methodist, is shown at his hour of decision--the figure of Wesley is seven feet, including his upraised arm.

On the panel toward which Mr. Wesley is looking, the hands of the clock are pointing to a quarter-of-nine as they did on that evening at Aldersgate where the heart of Wesley was strangely warmed.

The remaining figures in the window are Methodists important to the Church of the New World:

Francis Asbury, Father of American Methodism--

Thomas Coke, consecrated with Asbury as the first Methodist Bishop--

George Whitfield, evangelist on two continents--

Robert Strawbridge, Maryland's great preacher and leader--

And Shadrick Turner, planter, whose home near Bladensburg, Maryland, was the Methodist preaching place from which this church evolved. Francis Asbury, in his journal, records visiting Shadrick Turner's home nine times. The first visit was made on April 28, 1777, fifteen years before First church of Hyattsville was recognized by the Baltimore Conference.

Above the figure of Wesley is the martyr's Crown and Palm. The precious Promise of our Lord, "I go to prepare a place for you" is recorded.

Appropriately located at the very top of this section is a throne bearing the Chi-Rho (XP), symbol of Christ, indicating that Christ is the Name over all in Heaven and in earth.

The two lancets seem fused into one window due to the circular globe. Here is the world united in the One God. Superimposed upon it in the left panel which deals with the Life of Christ is the small figure of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the right is the ship of the Church--symbol of the World Council of Churches.

As well as adorning the church building, this tremendous window--of such great proportions--both physical size and spiritual concept, teaches its beholders the lessons of their Faith, just as in the past, the lovely windows in the medieval Cathedrals of Europe where used for instructing the congregations as well as beautifying the edifices.

As you gaze upon this magnificent window, may you be inspired by its beauty and become more aware of the rich Christian heritage which we share together. And may we all resolve, as we reflect on our past, to keep the great Christian truths alive in our hearts and minds--this day and for the rest of our lives."

Back To The Story