A Weekend for Stained Glass Windows

REVISED as below in red.

Light shining through a church window can be like God’s light offering solace to one’s heart. On Saturday and Sunday, January 25 and 26, Dan Aubrey (of Community News NJ and U.S. 1 Newspaper) offers stained glass window tours in Trenton and Princeton. Aubrey is a long-time appreciator of beautiful windows who has written about windows for his publications, and he has a Facebook page, Stained Glass Project of Greater Trenton and Princeton. 

In Trenton, come to ST. MICHAEL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 140 N Warren Street, on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 3 p.m. Here, you will see glass by Tiffany, the Victorian England-era Kempe Company, and the NJ-based Lamb Company. Aubrey will present a slide show of the area’s stained glass and then lead the group across the street to the CATHEDRAL OF ST. MARY OF THE ASSUMPTION to see creations by the former Edward Byrne Company in Bucks County.

In Princeton, come to PRINCETON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (PrincetonUMC) on Sunday, January 26 from noon to 1 p.m.  Dan Aubrey will speak at 12:30 p.m and town-wide tour handouts will be distributed.  (The schedule has changed in order to accommodate a special service. Please email windows@PrincetonUMC.org to schedule additional times). Take the guided or self-guided tour of this 1910 Arts and Crafts style church, with its Tiffany window and other windows with glass that is milky, not translucent. Discovered at the end of the 19th century, this “opalescent” glass could have different shades and colors in a single piece. In the balcony, the Tiffany window shows St. George and the Dragon. In the next room is a spectacular triptych by Louis Lederle, a former Tiffany artist, and the adjoining chapel has some sweetly sentimental windows dating from the 1940s.

Aubrey will lead the group to three other churches in Princeton: St. Paul’s, the University Chapel, and Trinity Church on Mercer Street. Princeton UMC remains open until 3 p.m. Please email windows@PrincetonUMC.org to schedule a time convenient to you. All are welcome, and the tour is free. Click here for details.

Windows: Christ at Heart’s Door

“Christ at Heart’s Door” photo by Duncan Hartley

Looking deeper into the history and spirituality of the stained glass windows —

This window in the chapel at Princeton United Methodist Church, is popularly known as ‘Christ at Heart’s Door’ re Revelations 3:20 (Behold, I stand at the door and knock.) Many 19th century British and German paintings had similar subjects — Christ knocking at the door of a home. They offer a puzzle: where is the handle on the door? The answer “you must open your heart from the inside.”

Dr. David Morgan of Valparaiso University in a 1994 exhibition catalog, suggested this particular image was influenced by the painting The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt. “The barely concealed heart produced by the luminance of Christ and the frame of the doorway convey Christ’s call to the soul ensnared in thistles of sin and the darkness of ignorance and willfulness,” he writes. “Yet, as promotional literature points out, ‘all is not hopeless, for there is an opening of grillwork in the door ‘revealing the darkness within,’ so that the individual may see who is at the door, and see that He is good and kind.'” 

If you bring a visitor to the chapel, ask the question, “is there a handle on the door? Why not?” It’s a gentle way to offer a Jesus moment.



Down Memory Lane with the Corson Sisters

jane-and-book-imgp1656On September 12, two daughters with ancestral roots at Princeton United Methodist Church paid a visit to the chapel dedicated to the pastors in their family. Jane Corson Henry and Dorothy Corson Jones are the great granddaughters of Rev. Pennington Corson imgp1662(who served 1899-1904), granddaughters of Rev. Alexander Corson (1929-1932), and daughters of Rev. Lynn Corson. ‘All were pastors here; their father served this church from 1942 to 1950.


The parsonage on Hamilton Avenue was filled with five children; the eldest and youngest were boys.  Jane was the middle daughter and Dorothy the youngest daughter.By a grace-filled coincidence, Barbara Fox and Judy Algor happened to be in the building and able to show them around. and then go to lunch.corson-sisters-imgp1667


The four of us agreed that it was a blessing to meet each other — the PUMC members to learn about the past, and the Corson sisters to see how their father’s work carried into the future.


The sanctuary, they say, looked just as as beautiful as before. They remember the “back stairs” that lead from the Sanford Davis room to the Sunday School classes held in little curtained side rooms of what is now our renovated Fellowship Hall. They admired the music room mural and the library with its “photo wall” depicting three Pastor Corsons.

In 1948, the sisters recalled, Princeton schools were desegregated under “the Princeton Plan” by Chet Stroup, a PUMC member who was superintendent of schools. Instead of attending middle school in the 185 Nassau School, they walked to the school on Quarry Street that is now The Waxwood apartments. Their mother did not drive, so they walked everywhere and ‘hung out’ on the university campus, often rollerskating on the slate sidewalks.

When their father accepted a call to Haddonfield United Methodist Church, Jane was a freshman at Princeton High. Eventually they would attend Methodist schools; Jane and her older sister Barbara trained as nurses at Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia, and Dorothy went to Wesley College in Dover, Delaware and had a career in retail.

As “Preacher’s Kids,” they remember being always on display, at church, in the community, and at home. Their mother always cooked extra for the guests their father would invited, especially on Sunday.

“Our father would get us up in the morning chanting ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,’ and we would want to throw pillows at him,” says Dorothy.

Dinner — always a family affair and always at 6 p.m. — was always followed by their father reading the passage from the Upper Room.  Some family traditions continue. As they raised their own families, they would begin each meal by holding hands and saying the familiar grace.

For all we eat, for all we wear

For all we have, everywhere,

We thank thee, Father. Amen.

Says Jane: “We were born with our faith, we were raised with it, and we lived by it. But — I wish I had paid more attention to Sunday School when I was here!”



Summer Sharing: Duncan Hartley

george by duncan
Photo by Duncan Hartley

Many wonder why PUMC’s Tiffany window shows St. George and the Dragon. “The legend of St. George and the Dragon is simply an allegorical expression of the triumph of  the Christian hero, or the church, over evil,” says Duncan Hartley. “Having dared to criticize a Roman emperor, St. George was subjected to horrible torture. ”

Duncan will talk about the window in the Summer Sharing series on Sunday, August 28, at 11:15 a.m. (after the 10 am service) in Fellowship Hall. His title: “My Life Through a Lens: from Shakespeare to St. George.” 

The dragon has been a Christian symbol of sin since the Middle Ages. The metaphor is taken from Revelation 12:9 where Satan is termed “the great dragon” and “that old serpent.” In Psalm 91:13 it is written that “the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.”

Christian art and literature has made frequent use of this symbolism. “Tudor duncanpoet Edmund Spenser, for example, named the Redcrosse Knight as the champion of holiness in The Fairie Queen,” says Duncan. “The knight and Una, representing the true religion, are finally betrothed after he has killed the dragon. The figure Gloriana represents glory in the abstract, and Queen Elizabeth I in particular. ” St. George became the patron saint of England in the 14th century and is now the patron saint of Moscow. Many of the most famous artists depicted St. George, and almost every major museum has a painting of him.


2016 august George Tiffany Durrell label 8246450915_8693f1433d_b
Photo by Duncan Hartley


The Window Riddle

window jesus chapel 4

Take a look at the stained glass window on the right. Better yet, go into the chapel and scrutinize it. Where is the door knob? If you are showing the windows to someone, adult or child, ask that question… and ask it to yourself!

In this episode of the popular video series, Chuck Knows Church, “Chuck” explains why churches have stained glass windows. PUMC is so lucky to have such beautiful ones.

The answer to the doorknob question can be found in a Warner Sallman painting. The door has no handle “because we must open our hearts for Jesus to come in.”  The chapel is a wonderful place to let that happen.




St. George and the Dragon Window

Our 105-year-old building has a spectacular stained glass window from the renowned Tiffany Studio of New York City. How did PUMC acquire a window with such an unusual subject?

It was the gift of the family of William Edward “Eddie” Durrell, a Methodist preacher’s son who – while he attended Princeton University – made PUMC his church home. Eddie graduated in 1889 and two years later met an untimely death in Rome, perhaps because of an aneurism. His father (Reverend Edward Hicks Durrell, who had invested in cranbury bogs in South Jersey) and his brothers — grateful for what the church had offered Eddie – commissioned the window symbolizing the triumph of good conquering evil.

Most images show St. George on a horse in the act of spearing the dragon. This memorial window shows an athletic young man, sword sheathed, as if to say “the battle is over, he fought the good fight, he conquered evil.”

PUMC has many stained glass treasures, including the Corson Chapel windows and the “Let the children come to me” mural in the Sanford Davis room.  In the sanctuary, our windows of the four Gospel writers  can also be found in the cathedral in Cologne Germany. The windows with abstract and symbolic designs are beautiful.

The St. George window, by the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany, is the most valuable of our treasures. As Pam Hersh said in her column, it is ‘a spectacular piece of art in a surprising space.” Tiffany revolutionized stained glass art. While the Europeans fired paint directly on the glass, effectively dulling its natural transparency, Tiffany managed to create vivid color in the glass itself, and he etched details with acid instead of using paint. He layered multiple panels to create unparalleled clarity, and the windows shimmered on both sides.

Tiffany also redefined the use of leading. Traditionally, it was purely functional and thought of as little more than support for the glass. As a result, the lead tended to distract from, rather than enhance, the artistic vision. That is until Tiffany developed new techniques that allowed the metal to become an integral part of the design, and the once clunky lead lines were transformed into elaborate outlines for things like tree branches and butterfly wings — or, in this instance, cathedral windows.

The only other Tiffany windows in Princeton are on campus at Alexander Hall and Jadwin Hall. The best view of “Saint George and the Dragon” is from the back pew of the balcony. Look for the iridescent scales on the dragon (Tiffany patented that method as @Favrile), and also note the Tiffany signature on the right.

Source: Ruth Woodward in A Journey of Faith for One Hundred Fifty Years: A History of Princeton United Methodist Church and Elizabeth E. Evitts, Baltimore Magazine.