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On Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of attending the Joy of Christmas concert at the Washington National Cathedral. We arrived early enough to take a few pictures outside, and I took a few more after the concert inside, even though it was dark by then, so the stained glass windows didn't show.
The vision for the cathedral dates back to 1791, when President George Washington commissioned architect Pierre L'Enfant to plan the nation's capital. L'Enfant envisioned a "great church for national purposes" as a part of his plan for the city. In 1893 Congress granted a charter to the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation of the District of Columbia allowing it to establish a cathedral. The site was chosen in 1896 and the foundation laid in 1907. The foundation stone came from a field near Bethlehem, and was set into a larger piece of American granite. It was inscribed with the words from John 1:14 -
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us
The final section constructed, the west towers, was completed in 1990, 83 years after construction began. The earthquake in 2011 caused millions of dollars of damage to the cathedral, and restoration work is ongoing.
The earthquake also prompted the inspection, repairs, and restoration of the cathedral's stained glass windows. You can learn more about the many unique and beautiful architectural features of the cathedral at the website: Washington National Cathedral - Architecture - Special Features. On the outside, you can see features such as the Rose Window, statues of saints, and many gargoyles, including the "yuppie gargoyle" and many designed as a nod to state symbols. There's even a statue of Darth Vader on the "dark side" of the cathedral! Inside the cathedral are beautiful altars and a vaulted ceiling, as well as many more statues honoring people such as George Washington, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The concert was beautiful, featuring the Cathedral Choral Society and the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School Choir singing pieces ranging from traditional carols to a world premiere of a commissioned Christmas piece; and from choral pieces by Bach to Mendelssohn and Berlioz to Benjamin Britten, Donald Fraser, and Guy Forbes. We also enjoyed a carillon prelude, a couple of performances by a brass quintet, and an organ solo. The audience was invited to stand and sing on some carols as well, accompanied by the organ.
What a delightful gift from a good friend to invite me to join her family for this beautiful concert! I'd love to take Kennady to share this experience next year!
This post is linked at Sometimes Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Tots and Me . . . Growing Up Together!
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