Christ church in Tarrytown displays a spectacular array of stained glass windows - walls full of great backlighted expanse of glass mosaics that glow like jewels in the sun.
The earliest , on the back wall, dates from the 1850s and is a large rose window made of warm, tinted, almost clear glass designed to allow the morning light to flood the interior.
Later windows reflect the style and sensibility of their particular age, and they present a splendid panorama of American religious art in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
These windows are probably original to the church building; designed to flood the rear of the church with morning light which streams through the Tower. In an age without gas or electricity and a liturgical style of the day that frowned upon candles in church, such windows were essential. In this photograph of the rose window you can see the outline of the external Tower window shining through the slightly opaque glass. The east wall windows are painted glass (not stained), but transparent enough to not diminish the entering light to any significant extent. Fortunately for worshipers peering into dimly-lighted hymnals, these pleasant windows from the 1850s have not been altered or replaced.
On the right as you enter through the front doors, is a 1890s window illustrating the chorus of a popular hymn of the era, "Angels of Jesus, angels of light, singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night." Dedicated to Elizabeth Waldron Temsch, (a mysterious person unknown to the parish records) it reflects the sentimental religiosity of that period. But note the superb fruit and flower garland in the bottom panel, worthy of Caravaggio.
Undated, but in a style common to the 1950s, the window lights the baptismal font with various symbolic references to children
(the infant Moses, little children whom Jesus called to himself) and youth (Samuel serving in the temple, the Prodigal Son, guardian angels protecting young people).
It is dedicated to Frank & Grace Millard.
(There is so much rich detail in this window, please click twice on the image to enjoy)
Dedicated to Catherine Schermerhorn Morel who died in 1880, the lower panels represent St. Catherine, in her marriage before a statue of Virgin and Child, and her appearance before Emperor Maxentius, who condemned her to death. While the oval upper panel probably represents Catherine being carried into heaven after martyrdom, it is remarkably similar to representations of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a doctrine being promulgated at that time. It perhaps was designed for another venue, but used here for an altered purpose.
The altar window dates most likely from the renovation of the Chancel and Sanctuary into its ornate gilded Byzantine style in the 1890s. A triumphant and luxuriously-robed Risen Christ raises his right hand in blessing, holding a Book in his left. Symbols of the Lord's Supper (wheat and grapes) are accompanied by angels holding scrolls reading, "Blessed are the dead - they rest from their labors" (Rev. 14:13). Two other quotations from the Beatitudes and an unknown sources are in lower circular panes. The window seems far advanced for its time. When the new Rectory was built, the western exposure to the sun was obscured, so a light well was created which now illuminates the window, with a little electrical help.
Dedicated to a doctor, Frederick K.G. LeRoy, MD, it depicts generic healing miracles of Jesus, flanked by pictures of Jesus as light of the world knocking at the door of one's soul and St. Luke, the patron of physicians. Small cherubs, with infant faces and abstract doctrinal symbols complete the window.
The lancet windows, tall and narrow, adorn the Chapel in addition to the Bethany Window. On the east wall is a Madonna and Child above a Nativity scene from about 1960. Memorializing Marietta McKenna Tompkins & William Arthur Dougherty, the window is an example of the best glass art just after World War II.
Flanking the Bethany Window on the south wall are two sentimental depictions of Jesus from the late 19th Century. Clearly by the same artist, each shows a nearly identical Jesus with light (a nimbus or halo) radiating from his head. One is the Good Shepherd and the other a generic, but in a pose suggesting that a "sacred heart" was originally intended but not considered appropriate for a Protestant church. One stained glass expert has speculated that the window may have been intended for another space, citing the tops of the windows that appear to have been truncated.
A favorite among 21st Century parishioners, this splendid expanse of color and form, dating from the end of the 19th Century, dominates St. Mark's Chapel. Given the subject matter, it might be called the "Bethany Window."
The window depicts Jesus visiting his friends Mary and Martha at their home in Bethany. While Martha busily prepares dinner, Mary sits (figuratively) at Jesus' feet (here rendered literally) listening to his every word. Martha rebukes Mary, asking for her help, but Jesus' counter-rebuke to Martha is that Mary "has chosen the better part" in listening to him. In significant irony, however, the inscription in the lower panels on two stylized ribbons, is a tribute to Harriet E. Rosenquest, whom the window memorializes: "Give her of the fruit of her hands, et her own works praise her in the gates." (Proverbs 31:31) It stands as a direct refutation of Jesus' words, exalting the value of the homemaker's work. The sleeping dog under Jesus' chair and the brocade table cloth are elegant touches of the artist's wit.
The domestic scene is surrounded by a stylized geometrical structure in the Arabesque manner, a fantasy worthy of the palace of the Kubla Khan in the poem of that name by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that was popular in the same period.
Oddly, the window does not fit the space in which it was installed, and the opening in the wall has been filled in from the top to accommodate the smaller window. This suggests that the window was transferred to Christ Church from another building or, perhaps, that is was a catalogue piece. In either case, it is a fabulous exercise in the glazier's art.