The large banners which hang in the chancel at All Saints contain much symbolism and serve as visual reminders of each season of the church year. They were designed and constructed by Nancy Metzger. Most of the verbal messages constructed into the banners are from hymns.
The church year begins with the season of Advent, a four-week period of preparation for the coming of the Lord Christ. The background of each banner is in two shades of blue, a color symbolizing hope.
These white banners symbolize both the Christmas season and the Epiphany of our Lord. The church celebrates great joy as Christ enters into the world at Christmas. And at Epiphany, (January 6th, the day that the Wise Men found and worshipped Jesus), we begin the season in which we “manifest” or make Christ known to others. On the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, the liturgical color becomes green.
The green banners hang twice during the Christian Year, during those periods known as “Ordinary Time 1 and 2.” The long part of the Epiphany season (the time between the Baptism of Our Lord and Ash Wednesday), is called “Ordinary Time 1.” The green banners appear again on the First Sunday after Pentecost. Although these banners are wordless, they tell us a lot, through symbols.
The grapevine represents Christ’s blood in the Eucharist. Christ also said: “I am the vine, you are tLenhe branches,” because it is from Him we receive our strength as we carry His message to the world. Branches of wheat represent the bread, or Christ’s body in the Eucharist.
The banners for Lent are totally simple and each of the pair is identical to the other. A cross simulating unfinished wood is hung with a black crown of thorns, reminding us of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Pentecost is the 50th day after Easter. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in the form of tongues of fire. This day has also been called Whitsunday, from the custom of robing the confirmands in white vestments. Our banners are emblazoned with 7 tongues of fire, representing the Holy Spirit, with the number 7 representing the 7 gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord. The words “Let your flame break out within us,” is from the hymn Praise the Spirit in Creation, # 507 in the Hymnal 1982. The text was written by Michael Hewlett and the tune, Julion, by David Hurd. The dove is one of the most common symbols of the Holy Spirit, and may be found in the story of the Baptism of Christ (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3 or John 1).
A Banner for All Saints Day
The Feast of All Saints on November 1st each year, honors those who have died in the faith, hence “all the saints.” Death and eternal life are difficult for us to comprehend, since we have not experienced them. Difficult also, is any kind of graphic depiction, such as a banner.
The book of Revelation contains much imagery that has influenced our ideas and also has influenced some of the great hymn writers of the church throughout history.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice.” Revelation 7: 9.
“…the saints triumphant rise in great array.” – William W. How – 19th c.
“Who are these of dazzling brightness, these in God’s own truth arrayed, clad in robes of purest whiteness, robes whose luster ne’er shall fade…”
– Theobald Heinrich Schenck – 17th c.
“Ye who have fought and joined the starry throng, ye victors, now take up the eternal song, an endless alleluia.” – Latin, 5th – 8th century
And so I have depicted, but merely symbolically, my interpretation of a multitude clothed in white. The words “…they in glory shine,” come from William How’s For All the Saints, Who From Their Labors Rest, which we sing every All Saints Sunday and frequently at memorial services.