The stained glass windows in the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church
Light and color have long been used symbolically for the articulation of the Christian faith. Nowhere are they so dramatically expressive as in the design of a great stained-glass window, for here light streams through the glass, transferring its patterned pieces int a vibrant creation of praise. We are fortunate in having a most unusual collection of stained-glass windows in our sanctuary. The glass for these windows came from Europe and this country. All but one, the Good Shepherd Window at the rear of the nave, were planned by Dr. John E. Wallace, minister from 1954 to 1972. They were created by Charles J. Connick Associates in Boston, one of the great names in the field of stained glass. In 1959, in conjunction with some major alterations of the church and the building of the chapel, memorial gifts made these windows possible.
All Souls Memorial Window
The radiant Christ is the central figure, with adoring angels grouped on each side. Beginning with Adam and Eve in The Garden, directly beneath the Christ figure, the faith is advanced through the fathers of the Old Testament. Abraham, who is led from his intended sacrifice of Isaac, is portrayed beneath the angels on the left. On the right, Moses, the first great freedom leader, takes his people from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Seen in the lower right lancet is St. Stephen, the first martyr of the new faith, and above is St. Peter converting Cornelius. In the opposite lancet, in the lowest medallion, is St. Paul with his companions on one of his missionary journeys, while above are Priscilla and Aquila leading others to the faith.
At the top of the left lancet is John Wycliffe, whose English translation of the Bible was a major factor leading to the Reformation. Opposite him is John Robinson, beloved Pilgrim teacher and pastor, who was the guiding light of the Separatists in England and Holland. From this group came the Pilgrims who brought Congregationlism to America.
Above these five lancets are small sections illustrating the Christian virtues of the Spirit. At the top are the anchor of hope and serpent of prudence; below are the lion of fortitude and the unicorn of charity. From left to right in the small sections are the nightingale, symbol of evening prayer; the bee, of industry; St. Andrew’s diagonal cross, of humility; the camel, of longevity; the bells, of joy; and the water bottle, of temperance. At the top of the main lancets, from left to right, are the open Bible; the cross on the map of the United States, symbol of the old Federal Council of Churches; the church on the map of the United States, symbol of our Board of Home Missions; and the Mayflower, which brought our spiritual forebears to this new land. Throughout the window are small symbols: the fleur-de-lis of purity; the refugee tent, symbol of the work done by our church among the world’s political refugees; the phoenix, legendary bird signifying Christ’s resurrection; the stethoscope, symbol of our medical missionaries; the sack of wheat, symbol of material aid given to those in need; and the spade, symbol of work camps. One row higher are the crossed palm fronds, representing Christ’s entry into Jerusalem; the cross surmounting the globe, representing the Lord’s triumph over the world; the Haystack Monument in Williamstown, Massachusetts, commemorating the birthplace of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1809; the cross surmounting the two hemispheres, symbol of the Board itself; the chalice and wafer, symbols of the Lord’s Supper; the dove with a basket, symbol of a sacrificial offering; and the chi-rho monogram, the first two Greek letters in the name, Christ.
On the next level are a school bell, symbol of the continuing concerns by the church for education; the double “P” on an open book, the colophon of the Pilgrim Press, the Congregational publishing house; and a church, representing the Church Building Society. Almost at the top of the lancets are an extended hand, representing the rehabilitation work done by the church; the butterfly, symbol of immortality; the crown, representing heavenly achievement; and finally the pomegranate, symbol of the unity and fruitfulness of the church.
Pratt-Angus Memorial Window
The Pratt-Angus Memorial Window in the south transept continues the theme of the All Souls Memorial Window, portraying the high calling of the faithful. Christ stands in the center in an attitude of teaching, with his disciples on the left and all mankind symbolized by the group on the right. This entire window is designed to emphasize the necessary requirements of Christian discipleship. The colors, deep in hue on the sides, gradually lighten until the center panel provides a brilliant background for this glorious figure clothed in a white robe with accents of many shades of red. Beneath the figure of the Christ, Jesus is shown seated with his disciples, their voices lifted in song, as they finish their last supper together and separate. Song and fellowship are thus represented as worthy acts of the faithful.
To the right, Mary of Bethany brings a beautiful alabaster jar of ointment to Jesus; beauty is an essential part of faith’s expression. To the left, Dorcas is shown clothing a child with a garment she made, an act of service for someone in need.
The last panel on the left depicts Barnabas bringing his gift of money to the Apostles; stewardship is an act of sharing one’s wealth. Above this a deacon is dedicated to the task of ministering in Christ’s name. In the upper reaches of the window, Robert Raikes, founder of the modern church school, is teaching God’s word.
In the far right lancet, the lowest medallion shows Philip converting an Ethiopian to the faith. Above are deaconesses ministering to a person who is ill, and at the very top a minister leads his congregation in worship. The shell, the font and the fountain represent baptism, one of our two sacraments. Communion, the other sacrament, is represented by the chalice, the cross, the wheat and grapes. There are candles for truth, flames for religious zeal and a torch for enlightenment. The yoke is a symbol of ordination. The evangelists are also represented: John by the eagle, Matthew by the winged man, Luke by the winged ox and Mark by the winged lion. The flaming rose and the heart symbolize charity; stars flash their message of heavenly steadfastness; the crowing rooster symbolizes vigilance; children at play represent joy; the ivy leaf is a symbol of faithfulness; and above, the seven-branched candlestick represents both the sanctuary and our heritage from Judaism. Here also is the insignia of the World Council of Churches—a cross superimposed on the world. Throughout the tracery are symbols of the right Beatitudes: the dove for the poor in spirit; the inverted torch for those who mourn; the lamb for the meek; the scales for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; the broken sword for the merciful; the lily for the pure in heart; the olive branch for the peacemakers; and the heavenly crown for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Also in the tracery are angels of prayer and praise, candles of enlightenment and lamps of truth and good works.
Good Shepherd Window
At the rear of the nave is the Peck or Good Shepherd Window, created by Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock of Boston. In keeping with the central theme of the caring Good Shepherd, the upper portion is dominated by sheep. The Greek alpha and omega are there also, expressive of God as the beginning, and his revelation and fulfillment through Christ as the end. The figure on the left is St. Raphael; the other archangel is St. Michael.
Christ, the central figure in the middle section, is seen as the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders. Beneath him are shepherds in an attitude of prayer as they gaze at the announcing star. The Apostle Peter, holding keys and a book, is on the right of Christ and below this he is being commissioned by Christ to “feed my sheep.” David, known as the Shepherd King, is shown on the left holding his lyre; the panel below pictures him rescuing a lamb from a lion. Illustrated on the left are the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Lost Coin; on the right are those of the Good Samaritan and the Lost Sheep. In the bottom corner panels are the miracles of restoration of sight to the blind man and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. The entire window is a commentary on the love of God—the love that searches out, heals, restores and brings to life again.
Entering through the double entrance doors of the church, the stained glass window shows Christ in the act of blessing as angels kneel beside him in prayer. The words: ‘Grant us thy peace upon our homeward way’ are from a prayer-hymn sometimes sung at the close of the Sunday service.
Stepping into the narthex, on the left is the window pictured on the cover, which was inspired by Psalm 95:6.
O come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
Here angels of praise call us to worship, and in the lower right is Dave—singer, music maker and author of many of the Psalms.
On Easter Sunday 1912 the dramatic murals depicting symbols of the Trinity, emblems of the four Evangelists, and four virtues of Christian religion were unveiled. Painted by Mary Brewster Hazelton, a prize-winning graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and professional artist, she was also a member of the church. The virtues are represented by the striking eight-foot tall figures of Justice, Charity, Truth, and Faith, each holding an appropriate symbol. The only male figure, Justice, carries scales and a sword to represent justice at the Day of Judgement. Charity or Love, bears the torch and emblem of life and light, and also a chalice, the cup of Communion. To the right stand Truth, with a lamp and a globe symbols of knowledge and vision, and Faith, who reads from the Bible as a guide and source of faith.