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The Void at the beginning of Creation. Window 1: The Void in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

Window 1: The Void.

The Days of Creation

The first theme in the Creation and the New Creation series of windows at the church of

Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee.

The first of the three main themes that appear in the windows at the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus in Dundee, Scotland, is The Days of Creation, as told in the book of Genesis chapter 1. Appropriately, the theme starts in the very first window of the series, Window 1: The Void, and appears in most of the windows in one way or another until Window 19: Adam and Eve. In what follows, I take portions of the Genesis narrative and link them to the relevant details in the windows.

 

Note that the biblical verses used throughout are from the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), except for phrases that mention the ‘dome’ of heaven. Dad prefers the older translation of this word, ‘firmament’, so where relevant, I have followed the Bible version that Dad used, the DRB (Douay Rheims Bible).

The creation of light and Jesus’ resurrection are both represented here by an abstracted Pascal candle. Liturgically, a new Paschal candle is lit and blessed every year at Easter. It represents the light of the risen Christ and life, coming into the world to dispel darkness and death. This clearly resonates with the creation of light on the first day of Creation and as such, the themes of Creation and New Creation come together.

 

The candle flame forms the focal point of Window 2 as a golden diamond of candlelight. The light emanating from the flame is expressed in a subtle mixture of tinted whites against greys and blues, arranged in the Celtic-style latticed pattern that forms the backdrop to all the windows from this one onwards. The pattern gradually changes in colour and intensity as the windows progress.

 

The candlelight spreads out sideways into the empty cool greys and blues of Window 1 on its left and into the more powerful, richer blues of Window 3 on its right. Just as the creation of light represents the first day of the creation of our world, so resurrection represents the beginning of a spiritual life in the spiritual world … as above, so below.

The light of Window 2 extends into Window 3: Last Rites. Here, the Celtic lattice pattern catches the light which stands out against the more vibrant, deeper blues introduced in this window, that are representative of water.

The first day of Creation, the creation of light represented by a Pascal candle in Window 2: The Resurrection, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The first day of Creation. The Pascal Candle in Window 2: The Resurrection, representing the Light.

The First Day: Light

'Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light' (Gen. 1.3).

 

On the first day of Creation, God created light, which is featured in Window 2: The Resurrection. Here we get the first sense of the way themes and ideas in the windows overlap with one another. In this window, the first day of Creation overlaps with Jesus’ resurrection, celebrated on Easter Sunday and regarded by Christians as the defining event of God’s New Creation.

'In the Beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep' (Gen. 1.1-2a).

 

The first window of the series, Window 1: The Void, portrays The Void at the beginning of Creation, and also represents the first of the Winter windows in which the colour blue predominates. As such, it is a simple window, atmospheric and empty of detail, giving a sense of the nothingness, or formlessness, before Creation. This emptiness is accentuated by the window being the only one in the series that does not have a Celtic-style latticed background pattern. The Void is not only the nothingness before the creation of the world, but the emptiness and greyness of a life without Christ.

The window is predominantly made up of cool greys and blues and, on the left-hand side, grey mauves. These mauves also feature in the last window of the series, Window 24: The Light, in which there’s a representation of the Milky Way solar system, linking the first and last windows across the main entrance of the church.

 

There are only two small details in Window 1. The first is a little joke in the transom. The second detail is the words ‘Quaere Verum’, Latin for ‘Seek the Truth’, positioned in the middle of the window. These small details are discussed more fully in the write-up to Window 1: The Void.

The beginnings of primitive sea life in Window 3: Last Rites in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The main focus of Window 3 is the Last Rites, also known as The Anointing of the Sick, the last prayers and sacraments given to someone shortly before death. Here, the Last Rites are represented by a sailing boat on the sea towards the light of eternal life but in relation to the theme of The Days of Creation, the bottom section of this window contains signs of the beginnings of primitive sea life: jellyfish, seaweed – probably the first plants on earth – and a school of small fry, all appearing in sea-blues, greens and greys.

Within the Celtic latticework pattern of this window, the colours start to reflect more fully the colours of water, with deep and mysterious blues, greys and greens predominating. The waters above the firmament are represented by billowy clouds, heavy and full of water with curved outlines. In the main window the lower aspects of the clouds are dark and leaden. Their upper aspects, in the transom, grow paler, with light catching their uppermost edges.

 

The sea below the firmament is expressed in blues and grey-greens, with a choppy surface and darker depths. Standing out sharply against the shadowy depths at the bottom of the window is an acid-etched skeleton of a whale. This skeleton is a reminder of the biblical story of Jonah and the whale (see Jonah 1.17-2.10), which itself can be regarded as a resurrection story, linking back to Window 2. It also represents the skeleton of the famous Tay Whale that died in the river Tay in 1883. This is the first feature in this series of windows that explicitly connects the church to its geographical location of Scotland and more specifically, Perthshire and Dundee, and are discussed more fully in the write-up of Window 4: The Firmament.

The second day of Creation. The waters above and below, divided by the Firmament, represented by a rainbow in Window 4: The Firmament in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland.  Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

Beginnings of primitive sea life: jellyfish, seaweed and a school of small fry in Window 3: Last Rites.

The small sea life details in the bottom of Window 3 lead into the full expression of the second day of Creation in Window 4: The Firmament in which God creates a firmament to separate the waters under it from those above it. In this window, the waters above and the waters below are divided by a rainbow, a symbol of the promise to Noah that a flood will never again destroy the earth and a reminder of the covenant between God and the earth (see Gen. 9.11-13). The rainbow is depicted in stylised form, with only four colours instead of the usual seven: blue, green, yellow and red. 

The second day of Creation. The waters above and below, divided by the rainbow in Window 4: The Firmament.

The Second Day: The Firmament

'And God said, "Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters"' (Gen 1.6).

Salmon leaping in the River Tay in Window 5: Baptism, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The dividing of the ‘waters from the waters’ on the second day of Creation continues in Window 5: Baptism. Just as the existence of water was necessary to support the start of life on earth as we know it, the sacrament of baptism represents the start of our earthly life in Christ.

 

In this window, which will be described more fully later, the Holy Spirit of baptism is represented by a dove, hovering over the face of the deep waters, the surface of which is portrayed in blue and green wavy stripes, a traditionally medieval way of portraying water (compare the different treatment of water’s surface in Window 4).

After the Tay Whale skeleton in the previous window, features in the baptism window begin to root this series more fully in the church’s geographical location. Most relevant to the watery theme of this window are the two salmon leaping in the River Tay on their journey to Loch Tay and right at the bottom, a beautiful Tay pearl (‘the pearl of great price’, Matthew 13.45-46), still in its oyster shell.

 

So, in the lower aspects of Windows 3, 4 and 5, we see Creation from an evolutionary and historical perspective in the progression from the jellyfish and seaweeds in the bottom of Window 3, to fishes generally: first the historical Tay Whale in Window 4 and then the salmon in the river Tay today.

Salmon leaping in the River Tay in Window 5: Baptism.

The Third Day: Dry Land

'And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"… Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it"' (Gen 1.9-11).

There is no single window that captures the essence of the third day of Creation on which dry land appeared and plants and trees that could bear fruit were put forth. Rather, elements of this day can be found in many of the windows in this series, particularly in the Spring and Summer windows (windows 8-19).

The transition from water to dry land happens in Window 6: The Temptation. In this window, amphibious life emerges from the water, represented by a little frog, right at the bottom of the window on a mound of dry land. Surrounding the frog are ferns, early plant forms that enjoy damp, shady earth. The first flower of this series of windows makes an appearance here: fittingly, it is the Star of Bethlehem. This beautiful white flower has six petals, forming a six-pointed star (like the Star of David). In Christian legend it is associated with the birth of Jesus and will be written about more in the write-up to this window.

Now that dry land has started to appear, the products of dry land, the plants and trees that yield fruit, start to become more abundant from Window 7: The Scottish Window onwards. As its name implies, this window is a celebration of all things

The third day of Creation, the creation of dry land. A frog, ferns and star of bethlehem flower in Window 6: The Temptation, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The third day of Creation, the creation of dry land. A frog, ferns and Star of Bethlehem flower in Window 6: The Temptation.

Scottish and will be written about more fully later. In this window we also begin to move into Spring, with fresh greens starting to replace blues as the dominant colour in the background latticework. The latticework continues to evolve as Spring progresses, in tandem with the proliferation of plants, flowers, trees, seeds and fruits in the next few windows.

The third day of Creation, the creation of dry land. Heather and a golf ball in Window 7: The Scottish Window, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The third day of Creation, the creation of dry land. Heather and a golf ball in Window 7: The Scottish Window.

In keeping with the Scottish theme and the creation of dry land is a golf ball at the bottom of the window, half hidden in the rough, and some Scottish heather – a plant that loves dry land. Honeybees love heather, and this window sees several honeybees dotted around the place. They are not the first honeybees in this series of windows, but they are the first ones found in their natural habitat. The first honeybee of these windows is snorkelling, just under the surface of the sea, in Window 4: The Firmament!

As the number of flowers increases in the next few windows, so we also see a variety of insects that are attracted to them – including moths and butterflies and of course honeybees (the Creation narrative makes no mention of insects!). These will all be examined in more detail in the write ups of each individual window.

In Window 8: The Woman at the Well, we see the first of three trees in the windows, a palm tree shading a weary Jesus as he rests at Jacob’s Well and asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water (see John 4.1-26). The second tree appears in the next window, Window 9: The Almond Tree, as a symbol of both Mary, the Mother of God and representative of another product of Dundee, the Dundee cake. The third tree is the olive tree in Window 16: Confirmation; the holy oil (chrism) of the sacrament of confirmation is made from olive oil with a sweet perfume added.

Almond tree in Window 9: The Almond Tree, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

Almond tree in Window 9: The Almond Tree, one of three trees in the windows.

The fourth day of Creation, the creation of the sun and stars. Window 11: The Sun and Planets, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The fourth day of Creation. Window 11: The Sun and Planets.

The Fourth Day: Sun, Moon, Stars

'And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to separate the day from the night …" God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars' (Gen. 1.14-16).

 

The fourth day of Creation is represented in Window 11: The Sun and the Planets and in Window 12: Reconciliation. It is clear from looking at these two windows in the middle of the Spring series that they are connected – the backgrounds of both transoms are deep blues to represent the night sky and the heavens, and both contain planetary bodies. The backdrop to a stained glass window is always important as it affects its appearance. These windows overlook the Sidlaws, a range of hills in Perthshire and Angus. As such, they are looking out onto mainly sky, which is the perfect backdrop to windows featuring the fourth day of Creation: the sun, the moon and the stars.

 

High up in Window 11: The Sun and the Planets are, obviously, the sun and planets. The sun, ‘the greater light to rule the day’, is half in the transom and half in the main window, with the greater half in the transom. This has the effect of looking a little like a rising or setting sun. Surrounding the sun are the planets, some in the transom and some in the main window. Each one is cut from a single piece of handmade glass, each one different; the only detailing in the planets is the natural detail of the glass. They will be discussed in more detail in the relevant write-up.

The moon, the ‘lesser light to rule the night’ appears in the transom of Window 12: Reconciliation, the only detail in an otherwise plain leaded light. The theme of this window is the sacrament of reconciliation, penance, or sometimes just known as confession. In this sacrament, a person is absolved of their sins, a concept that can be connected to the idea of bringing light to the darkness within, as in the prayer ‘lighten our darkness, Lord, we pray’. The moon, which acts as a light in the darkness of night is a nice symbol of this prayer and of the sacrament of reconciliation.

 

The moon itself has a beautiful, luminous quality created mainly by acid-etching clear glass. This technique is good for showing its cratered surface – you can even see the man in the moon!

The Fifth Day: Fish and Birds

'And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the firmament of heaven"' (Gen. 1.20).

 

As we have seen, Dad did not treat the third day of Creation on which God created the dry land and the herbs and trees in a single window; rather, features of this day are spread throughout the Spring and Summer windows. Similarly, the living creatures brought forth by the waters and the birds, all created on the fifth day, are also represented in many of the windows.

 

We have already noted certain creatures brought forth by the waters – jelly fish, small fry, the Tay whale, and salmon – in Windows 3-5, and the frog in Window 6. We have also been introduced to the honeybees and other insects that feature in the Spring and Summer windows.

 

The birds that ‘fly above the earth’ also feature mainly in a number of the Spring and Summer windows. Having said that, the first image of a bird in the windows has already been mentioned; it is the dove that symbolises the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters in Window 5: Baptism.

The first ‘created’ birds, however, are ‘the three jays’ that appear in Window 7: The Scottish Window, after the creation of dry land. These three jays symbolise three notable industries of Dundee beginning with the letter ‘J’: Journalism, Jute and Jam, and will be written about in more detail in the write up to Window 7.

 

Birds are dotted around the windows that follow, some identifiable and included for specific reasons, others unidentifiable and one, in Window 18, positively strange (made by a nine-year-old Ester!). The last one is a goldfinch on a thistle in Window 22: Holy Orders. The reason for its inclusion in the Holy Orders window will be included in the relevant write up.

The fourth day of Creation, creation of the moon in Window 12: Reconciliation, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The fourth day of Creation. Window 12: Reconciliation.

The fifth day of Creation, the creation of the fish and birds. The 'three jays' in Window 7: The Scottish Window, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The fifth day of Creation. The three jays in Window 7: The Scottish Window.

The sixth day of Creation, the creation of living creatures. A mountain hare in Window 13: Saints Peter & Andrew, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The sixth day of Creation. A mountain hare in Window 13: Saints Peter & Andrew.

The Sixth Day: Animals of the Earth

'And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind" … Then God said, "Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness" … So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them' (Gen. 1.24-7).

 

On the sixth day of Creation, God created ‘wild animals of the earth’ and ‘humans in our image, according to our likeness … male and female he created them’. The ‘wild animals of the earth’ are represented by a single mountain hare at the bottom right hand corner of Window 13: Saints Peter and Andrew. The mountain hare was chosen to represent the creatures of the land because in the UK, it is native only to the Scottish Highlands (but has been introduced into other parts and so can also be found in parts of the north of England).

 

This window comes towards the end of the Spring series and in it we are starting to see the fresh green colours of Spring in the Celtic-style latticework background gradually become more golden before we move into the warm, sunshine colours of Summer.

There is also another creature of the earth in the next window, Window 14: The Eucharistic Bread. It's a little mouse – Robert (Rabbie) Burns’ ‘wee tim-rous beastie’ – curled up among the wheat. This isn’t the only mouse in the windows ...

one snuck back into Window 11 and is hiding among the flowers.

The ‘humans in our image, according to our likeness’ that God created are not actually named by God but are known in the monotheistic religions as Adam and Eve, the first male and the first female. ‘Adam’ simply means ‘a man’ in Hebrew, and the man (Adam) names the woman as ‘Eve’, a word that resembles the word for ‘living’ (see Genesis 3.20).

 

However, the story of Adam and Eve in the paradisiacal garden of Eden, and their subsequent ‘fall’, which happened after they were tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, is well known. Father McInally was quite clear that he didn’t want a negative portrayal of Adam and Eve based on the fall, which Dad was more than happy to go along with. So, at Fr McInally’s request, in Window 19: Adam and Eve, Dad portrayed Adam and Eve in a state of original grace in the garden of Eden. They are seated on opposite sides of a small stream that runs between them, Eve with her foot dangling in the stream as the water plays over her toes. All vegetation, including a tree in the distance, is only hinted at, with minimal brush strokes and acid etching. A bird flies from Adam’s outstretched arm and Eve offers Adam a flower.

Rabbie Burns' 'wee tim-rous beastie' in Window 14: The Eucharist - the Bread, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

Rabbie Burns' 'wee tim-rous beastie' in Window 14: The Eucharistic Bread.

The sixth day of Creation, the creation of humankind. Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in Window 19: Adam and Eve, in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The sixth day of Creation. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Window 19: Adam and Eve.

There are lots of honeybees in this window, more than in any of the other windows, all coming and going from the skep, a traditional form of beehive at the bottom of the window. One of the bees has even flown up into the transom. Honeybees are industrious little creatures, forever working – in fact, those out foraging for honey, nectar and propolis are called worker bees – which is the only connection to the fall of Adam and Eve made in this window. After the fall, when they had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God tells Adam and Eve that they will have to work by the sweat of their brow, so humans and honeybees alike are known for working hard. Having said that, honeybees, because they produce sweet, golden honey, much enjoyed by humans, also represent the sweetness of life.

 

Both sweetness and hard work connect this window to the preceding one, Window 18: Matrimony, or Marriage, and as anyone in a happy and healthy marriage would presumably agree, both elements are present.

The Sabbath: God Rested

'Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all their multitude … and [God] rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done' (Gen. 2.1).

 

When God had finished creating the heavens and the earth and all their multitude, God blessed the seventh day as holy and rested. The Jewish and Christian faiths advocate setting aside a day each week – Shabbat or the Sabbath – for worship and rest. Appropriately, there is no visual

representation in the windows of the day on which God rested. Instead, because traditionally Christians attend Mass and receive Holy Communion on the Sabbath, Dad treated the two Eucharistic windows either side of the altar as representative of the Day of Rest (see Window 14: The Eucharistic Bread and Window 15: The Eucharistic Wine).

 

Another way of thinking about The Days of Creation and the Sabbath is in relation to the circle. The circle itself is a perfect construction. It is a line with no beginning and no end and can be viewed as a symbol of unity and perfection. However, divided by its own radius, a circle’s circumference divides into six equal parts. In mathematical theory, the number six is regarded as the first perfect number (1 + 2 + 3 = 6 and 6 can also be divided by 1, 2 and 3). Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher of the 1st century, claimed that God created the world in six days because six is the first perfect number. Following him Augustine, a Christian father of the 5th century, claimed that God could have created the world in an instant but chose to do it in the perfect number of six.

W18 Matrimony detail Es2 #3 LOW RES 2.jpg
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