Whether through paintings, music, sculpture or stained glass, people have always tried to manifest eternal things through the material of this world. Because stained glass gives form and meaning to light, some feel it is the art form best suited to show us eternal truth.
It was between 1137 and 1144 as the Abbot Suger expanded the Abbey Church, St. Denis, just outside Paris that the Gothic styleof architecture started. A number of new architectural ideas and construction techniques made it possible to build cathedrals with huge open spaces for stained glass windows.
Stained glass has often been used to tell the story of the Bible. Such windows draw us to the one who is the Light of the world. The Gospel of John teaches that in Him was life; and the life was the light of men. What better way to be drawn to this light than through light shining through stained glass.
Abbot Suger said it this way: “..when – out of my delight in the beauty of the house of God – the loveliness of the many-colored gems…has called me away from eternal cares….then it seems to me that I see myself dwelling, as it were, in some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of the earth nor entirely in the purity of Heaven; and that, by the grace of God, I can be transported from this inferior to that higher world…”
As you view our Bible in Stained Glass, may you be lifted up in a special way into the very presence of God! Entrance to the tour is from the front of the sanctuary on Reagan Drive.
All of the stained glass windows in the Church present a consistent series of symbols covering the chief Christian symbols and and main episodes of the Bible.
The borders of all these windows bear the fine old symbol of the True Vine, which surrounds and binds together each of the window lights. This Vine symbol, including recurring bunches of grapes, is combined with periodic sheaves of wheat in golden color. Thus the two elements of the Communion, the Wine and the Bread, are used throughout this continuing symbol of the True Vine. Woven into this same border is a stylized eight-petalled rose, which symbolizes Baptism, and is also the symbol of Christian Love and Courage.
In the field of each window panel one may find many minor symbols and treatments of the form of the Cross, all of which can be found in traditional Christian symbolism. In the bottom center of each panel appear alternately placed crosses in the red diamond shaped medallions. One of these is the Celtic Cross which is connected with the origins of Christianity and the Presbyterian Church. The other is the Blossoming Cross of the Resurrection.
The entire series around the Sanctuary and the front entrance contains symbols which cover the whole scope of the Bible from Creation through Revelation. The series starts near the front of the Sanctuary above the organ and proceeds down this side of the Sanctuary. It continues with the four panels at the front entrance, then down the left side of the Sanctuary.
Each window is referred to in order, starting on the right hand side above the organ.
These windows were executed in the 1950s for the Central Presbyterian Church on McCallie Avenue in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They were designed and created in the J. & R. Lamb Studios of Tenafly, New Jersey. The Studio continues in business as Lamb Studios in Briarcliff Manor, New York. They were dedicated to the work of the Church December 9, 1956.
J. & R. Lamb Studios is the oldest existing American stained-glass studio, founded in 1857 by Joseph Lamb (1833-1898). Lamb was educated in England and had deep religious interests. On returning to New York he and his brother, Richard, started a business designing stained glass and church ornaments. They opened a studio on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village and prospered, although none of their early windows in New York seems to have been remarkable enough to have been preserved or remembered as their work. Distinction would come to the studio later in the century. A talented grandson, Frederick (1863-1928), received international recognition, and his windows are still treasured as part of the city’s stained glass heritage. In the early decades of the studio, however, the works of foreign artists were favored over that of the Lamb brothers and other domestic studios. The most important windows preserved from the 1860s and 1870s are from abroad.
Central Presbyterian Church dissolved in December 2000. After some consideration by its various committees, the Presbytery of East Tennessee encouraged the Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church to install the windows for use in furthering its mission. The windows were dedicated in Gatlinburg October 4, 2003.
Theme of the Creator
The ancient symbol of The Eye of God placed within the triangle is seen surrounded by rays of light and cloud forms, reminding us of the creation of light from the darkness in the description found in Genesis.
Noah and the Ark
Another episode from Genesis is symbolized here. The Ark is seen at the moment when the dove brings the olive branch to the waiting Noah. The Rainbow of God’s covenant to Noah arches across the top as the ship rides the waters of the Deluge.
n this episode described in Genesis the hand of God appears upon the sacrificial altar pointing to the ram which is to be used in place of Isaac.
The Ark of The Temple
Here we are reminded of the greatness of Solomon and the central feature of his Temple, the Ark made under the direction of God.
The Harp of David
The Psalms and the reign of King David are symbolized by the ancient Hebrew Harp bearing a Crown insignia of the King.
The Fiery Chariot of Elijah
The fiery chariot is seen rising into the Heavens with another flame descending, reminding us of the cloak thrown down to Elijah.
The Major Prophets
The Books of Prophecy are symbolized by the first vision of Daniel, who is one of the major prophets. Each detail of this strange vision of four beasts is brought forth with exactness and clarity.
The Minor Prophets
This is the vision of Malachi, one of the minor prophets. This vision is entitled “The Bridge to Christ”. It consists of the serpent wound about a winged staff, from which sunlight shines forth, while at the bottom an open cornucopia pours out the blessings of life. Represented in this vision is the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy of the serpent raised on the cross through the Resurrection of Christ, and the resulting benefits flowing to mankind.
The Genealogy of Jesus
This is symbolized by the crescent moon, symbol of Gabriel, shining over the Waters of Life, reminding us that through the messenger Gabriel who reigns over all birth, Jesus finally came forth from the blood line of the generations.
The Lily of the Annunciation
The Lily in formalized character symbolizes the conception of the Christ Child. Gabriel, the announcer, is always shown bearing the Blossoming Lily.
The Star of the Nativity
The actual birth of Jesus is symbolized here by the six-rayed star called the Star of David, which is the correct one to use in symbolizing the Nativity.
The Star of the Epiphany
This symbol completes the Old Testament and the Childhood of Jesus. This star is the five-pointed star, or Star of Jacob, which is always used as the symbol of the star which guided the Three Wise Men to the Christ Child.
The Calling of the Disciples
The upright Cross of Christ appears with two fish hanging from its arms, reminding us that Christ first called two fishermen to become His Disciples.
Christ’s Teaching of the Word
The Shepherd’s Staff and Star of Christ are seen in front of The Book of the Word of God.This symbolizes the many sermons, teachings and parables of Christ. The Alpha and the Omega represent Christ’s presence from the beginning through all eternity.
The Entry into Jerusalem
This displays the crossed palms in front of the gate to Jerusalem, reminding us of the triumphal entry of Christ.
The Crowning with Thorns
The thorny crown is shown surrounding the bursting rose which is the symbol of Christ’s Love and Courage.
The Agony on the Cross
This is described by the sponge of vinegar held high on the point of the spear, reminding us that Christ sought no relief from His suffering.
The central Cross of Christ is shown bursting forth triumphantly over the hill of Golgotha.
This symbol is seven cloven flames, reminding us of the flames of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Community of the Apostles.
The First Deeds of the Church
This is represented by the fine old symbol of the Ship of the Church. The ship appears filled with the Community of the Twelve Apostles riding over the Seas of the Waters of Life. The Ship is carried by the sail attached to the cross-shaped mast which bears the Light of the World as its masthead.
The Epistles are represented by the symbol for Paul, consisting of the Sword of the Spirit planted point down and forming the Cross in front of the Epistles.
The Early Missionary Acts of the Apostles
These acts are symbolized by the upright cross marching through the desert lands and sheltered by the large scallop shell. The scallop shell signifies not only Baptism, but placed over the cross it reminds us of the Missionary Impulse. The early Christians used large white shells from the shores of the Mediterranean to shield their heads from the glare of the sun in the way that white helmets are worn today by people in these desert regions.
The Messages to the Church Down Through the Ages
This Revelation symbol shows the seven candlesticks standing for the Seven Epochs that are to be throughout the History of Christianity. They are arranged in front of the Cross of Christ, who in each age remains with mankind to inspire the work of the Church.
This fine symbol of the series is the last one appearing in Revelation. It consists of a tall palm tree, which is the tree of Martyrdom and of Life, bearing twelve manners of fruit and leaves for the Healing of the Nations. It is seen growing from the Waters of the River of Life flowing across the bottom.
The final window of the series is seen above the front entrance from the outside and above the balcony from the Sanctuary. With its rich blue intricate field, and the great symbol of the Cross of the Resurrection formed of Blossoming White Lily-like Arms displayed across the center of the window.
This most important symbol is placed in the center of the Church at the main entrance.