St. Alban the Martyr

The Venite Window

What date is this window?
It was begun in 1926 and installed in 1927.

Who made this window?
It is one of a pair by Stourbridge-born Sidney Meteyard RBSA, a member of the Birmingham Group, who studied under Edward R. Taylor at the Birmingham School of Art.

Who gave this window?
It was given by James Frederick Deeming, who later gave the money to complete the church tower.

Is there a dedication plaque?
There is no separate plaque, but inscriptions at the bottom of the two lights of the window, invisible from ground level read “To the Glory of God” and “The Gift of James Deeming”.

Decription

Like the Te Deum Laudamus and Benedictus Dominus window, the Venite window is based on one of the songs of praise sung at traditional Prayer Book Morning Prayer. This is Psalm 95 (Vulgate 94) and takes its name from the Latin version of its opening words, which are quoted on the scrolls in this window: “Venite, exultemus Domino; jubilemus Deo salutari nostro" – "Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us rejoice in God our salvation".

In the trefoil at the top is a royal crown. Below this, at the top of the two main lights of the window, are rays of light coming from the right, as if from the lamp in the trefoil of the central window.

Below this are two angels holding (left) the sea and (right) the dry land. These are suggested by the lines “In His hand are all the corners of the earth and the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His and He made it: and his hands prepared the dry land".

The centre portion is occupied by haloed figures singing and playing the harp and zither to embody the opening lines of the psalm.

The lower part contains the figures of David and Moses.

The figure of David, on the left, is represented as an eastern king with spear and in armour, crowned with an eastern crown; in one hand he holds a harp, thus showing his combined character of singer, warrior, and leader. His crimson cloak is decorated with the Star of David. The background is filled with mulberry trees, which are mentioned in connection with David’s victory over the Philistines (I Chron. XIV. 14-15). This psalm is one of those traditionally attributed to David.

The figure of Moses, on the right, typifies the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness —“Forty long years was I grieved with this generation.” He holds and writes upon the tablets of stone bearing the ten commandments. Beside him is raised the brazen serpent, the symbol of spiritual healing (Num. XXI. 9) and in the background is the burning bush (Exodus III. 4).

Here is the full text of the psalm from the Book of Common Prayer:

O come, let us sing unto the Lord : let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving : and shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God : and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth : and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it : and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship, and fall down : and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God : and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts : as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;
When your fathers tempted me : proved me, and saw my works.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said : It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways.
Unto whom I sware in my wrath : that they should not enter into my rest.

Compare this window with the right-hand Benedictus Dominus window, also by Sidney Meteyard, and the earlier central Te Deum window by Henry Payne.


This page is part of our project "Revealing St Alban's Hidden Heritage" supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.