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The Consecration of St. John's Church
In Stamford, Conn.












Text courtesy of Saint John's Church, Stamford, Connecticut

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2009

Memoranda of the Consecration.

The All Saints' Day services of St. John's parish began at half past seven o'clock with the celebration of the Holy Communion at St. Luke's Chapel by the Rev. D. L. Ferris, the Senior Curate. At this service a memorial receiving alms-basin was used for the first time, given by St. Luke's Sunday School in memory of the Rev. William Tatlock, D. D.

At nine o'clock the Holy Communion was celebrated at the parish church by the Rector, the Rev. Chas. Morris Addison, assisted by the Rev. F. A. Wright, the Junior Curate.

The Consecration service began at half past ten, with the processional hymn 493: "O 'twas a joyful sound to hear." (H. W. Parker.) The procession was formed in the parish building, in the following order: The choir, the visiting clergy, the clergy assigned to seats in the chancel, and the Bishops. They passed down the north aisle to the vestibule where they were met by the Wardens and Vestrymen of the parish. The choir and the visiting clergy then moved up the centre aisle to their places. Immediately after this the Wardens and Vestrymen led the rest of the procession until all had passed into the church, when they separated and the order was reversed, the Bishops leading into the chancel and repeating the 24th Psalm alternately with the clergy.

The instrument of Donation and Endowment was read by Mr. Walton Ferguson, the senior Warden, and the sentence of Consecration by the Rev. Samuel Hart, D. D. The Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese then proceeded with the Consecration service.

At Morning Prayer following the Consecration the opening part through the proper Psalms was assigned to the Rev. Louis French of Darien. The Rev. Henry Ferguson read the Lessons, they being the first two appointed, and the Creed and prayers were assigned to the Rev. Thomas W. Punnett.

[iv] The Introit was Trimnell's Anthem in E flat, based on the First Lesson: "I have surely built Thee an house to dwell in." At the Communion service Bishop Brewster was the celebrant, the Rev. Walter Mitchell reading the Epistle, and Bishop Nichols the Gospel.

The sermon was preached by Bishop Potter, and the hymn before it was number 175: "The Saints of God." (J. Stainer.)

The Holy Communion was administered by Bishop Nichols and the Rev. Louis French; and the Rev. Samuel Hart, D. D., and the Rev. Henry Ferguson.

The Recessional was hymn number 176: "For all Thy Saints." (J. Barnby.)

In addition to Bishops Brewster, Potter and Nichols, the Rector and the Rev. F. W. Brathwaite, the Rev. Walter Mitchell and the Rev. Samuel Cooke, D. D., sat within the chancel rail. The Revs. Henry Ferguson, Samuel Hart, D. D., Louis French, Thomas W. Punnett and the two Curates sat in the choir.

In the processional beside those named above were the Revs.

John Binney D. D., S. B. Pond, Robert B. Kimber, H. D. Cone, Wm. A. Swan, W. J. Magill, Geo. F. Nelson, D. D., Chas. Judd, Peter L. Shepard, Edmund Rowland D. D., Wm. H. Bean, Stephen F. Holmes, Joseph W. Hyde, Thos. A. Johnstone, Nathan T. Pratt, F. D. Hoskins, D. D., E. L. Whitcome, J. F. Sexton, Charles W. Boylston, Joseph P. Cameron, Wm. H. Lewis D. D., R. B. Whipple, Geo. W. Barhydt, L. W. Shey, S. H. Watkins, Alexander Hamilton, Arthur J. Gammack, J. H. Watson, Herbert M. Smith, Robert L. Mattheson, C. H. Dupee, George I. Brown, Louis N. Booth, N. E. Cornwall, Francis Goodwin D. D., C. N. Morris.

[v] The organist was Mr. J. H. Swartwout and those who sang in the choir were:

SOPRANOS. Miss Mix, Miss Cook, Miss Wilson, Miss Ballou, Miss Olmstead,
Miss Goulden, Miss Scofield, Mrs. Shea, Miss Johnson, Miss Dayton, Miss Birch,
Miss Hammond, Miss Bowen, Miss Dashiell
ALTOS. Miss Marshall, Miss Leo Wolf, Miss Rowe.
TENORS. Mr. Hawley, Mr. Hodgkins, Mr. Nash, Mr. Ginder.
BASSES. Mr. Noyes, Mr. Potter, Mr. Harris, Mr. Weed, Mr. Thompson

The ushers were Messrs. Mead Moore, W. P. Waterbury, John M. Brown, J. A. Gilliland,
L. W. Scofield, G. C. Little, P. L. Rathgeber, W. A. Clark, S. W. Fawcett, Thomas Christie, and W. J. Mitchell.

The marshalls were Messrs. James R. Barbour, and Malcolm R. Pitt. Sexton, John A. Halgren.

"And he stood and blessed all the Congregation." 1. KINGS, 8: 55.

He had been kneeling, you remember, just before--kneeling and praying. And what a prayer it was! I suppose one reason why the Church makes that wonderful prayer of Solomon's when he dedicated the temple, a part of its service for consecrating a Church, is to be found, among others, in its comprehensiveness. It touched every class; it rehearsed every condition; it recognized every relation in life. The solitary penitent, the wayward prodigal, the righteous sufferer, the smitten household, the starving peasantry, the land in its arid drought and misery, starved by blasting mildew or locust; the people that go out to battle and the people that stay at home--in one word, sinner and wanderer, the home and the state, the laborer and the warrior; all these are caught up in the wonderful meshes of that wonderful prayer, and lifted toward the throne of God. For this one and that one, for such a class, and for such another, the King entreats, "Hear thou, O God, in Heaven, Thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart Thou knowest." And then, rising from his knees, "from before the altar of the Lord * * * with his hands spread up to heaven," "he stood and blessed all the congregation."

[8] It is not easy to conceive of a more perfect image of the Church of God in the world, than the whole scene presents to us. For what is it here among men, save, first of all, to furnish avenues of approach to Him? I suppose that if we believe--as I venture to assume that you who are here this morning do believe--that the religious instinct of man is a witness not merely of a conscious need, but of a Being who is the eternal answer to that need, then the creation of a system, an organism, an agency, or combination of agencies--call it what you will--which came into being as the Hebrew Church among the lsraelitish people came, was designed to bring these two, the human need and the divine answer to that need, together. How simple and elementary it was in the beginning, this mechanism, the patriarch under the stars, and the stone set up as a memorial; and how it grew with time into the ark and the tabernacle, and the rest; and how these gave way at last to that noble structure which Solomon blessed and dedicated; of all this, surely, I need not remind you. Hold fast now to the two great ideas--need, the instinct of worship, the hunger for help and pardon, on the one hand; and then God, His pity, His help, His guidance, on the other; and the Temple at Jerusalem not only, but every other temple, all around the world, becomes intelligible, not merely, but indispensable.

Every now and then we hear a new cry that too much money is spent in building Churches, and that the groves were God's best temples, and all the rest of that dreary rubbish which the lawless and unbelieving instinct [8/9] of every age revamps as if for the first time it had discovered it. But when we turn and ask these apostles of secularism what sort of people they were who lived in the groves and worshiped their dryads and fetiches, and how a society with the barbaric notes that distinguished the grove-worshippers compares with that other civilization which we call Christendom, and which is, in all its better forms, the incarnation of humanity's best ideals, they are not sufficiently interested to tell us. On the other hand, take what we call our Psalter, even if you take nothing else--remember that it was written of old to be used precisely as it has been used here this morning in the responsive worship of the people--and tell me where, in all the world, you could find anything that so expresses the inmost and divinest in man, his deepest need, his most unreserved confession, his most utter despondency, and then his completest self-surrender, his purest ecstacy, his highest aspiration! Will any one undertake to say, now, how far the power to express all these was awakened in the mind of David by his experience in connection with those ancient forms of worship by means of which Israel was lifted out of its earlier paganism by tent and shekinah, and ark of the covenant, and priestly vestment, and holiest of holies, of which we read the story of original institution in those books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, that seem to us, so often, scant of meaning, only because we cannot see the deeper meaning that is in them?

In other words, men and brethren, we are here this morning to consecrate this stately and beautiful structure--to set it apart, that is to say, from "all unhallowed, [9/10] worldly and common uses," because such a structure and such a consecration of it are an answer to the deepest instincts and the deepest needs of man. Your kitchen and your dining-room, your bath-room and your bed-rooms, are important parts of a well-ordered household; but you would not care, I imagine, to have this Christian assemblage broken up into little coteries who should worship on the Lord's Day, or on other Holy days, in them. It is of the essence of sacredness in material things that there shall be about it a fine and high reserve; and the same instinct which would restrain you from exhibiting your dead mother's portrait in a bar-room, would hinder you from celebrating the Sacrament in a club or in a smoking-room. We take our highest and holiest apart, as God took Moses, into the Mount, for revelations there, which, down among the dust and turmoil of the market-place, had no fitting place and no becoming opportunity. From time to time there are people who become impatient of the restraints of consecrated places, who want to worship in a hall, and to preach and baptize upon platforms; and we are seeing a curious illustration of this nowadays in an ecclesiastical architecture which, impatient of those older and incomparable types of which this building is a noble illustration, rear places of worship whose interiors are carefully modelled after the ampitheatrical outlines and arrangements of a theatre. It is a strange and entire misapprehension of the whole situation, with, if there were nothing else that were wrong in it, its pagan and thespian deification of a man. ''We must all see the preacher," we are told, "and watch his gestures [10/11] and see his perambulations to and fro upon a stage, and note carefully the secularities of his coat, and shoes, and cravat." Yes, we must see the preacher, but it is more important that we should hear, not only him but God's word preached out of yonder matchless pulpit which we call the lectern; and, most important of all it is that we should realize that we have come, like those ancient worshippers of Israel, out of all our various sorrows and needs and shames, into a House where, first of all, God is, not man, and where, up through august forms, and outlines, and atmospheres of sanctity and reverence, we may climb towards Him!

Now, then, have you ever realized how pre-eminently adapted this particular architecture is, in accordance with which you have built this Church, to that primal necessity? The Gothic architecture, in other words, has certain distinctive notes, in this connection, which are not merely notes of beauty, but notes, pre-eminently, of fitness. I heard the other day of a young architect who said, flippantly, that classic forms of architecture were all that he was interested in, and that he had no use for the Gothic. Amazing audacity and amazing ignorance! No use for the incomparable cathedrals of Salisbury and Durham, and York, and Lichfield, and Rheims, and Amiens, and Chartres, and Rouen, and the rest! No use for long-drawn aisle, and stately arch, and soaring roof, and radiant choir, and mystery of pillared aisles and shadowed transept, and all the wondrous rest! Let such a one go and read the letter which that man of rare vision and singular genius, the late Henry Ward Beecher, wrote after [11/12] his first service at Westminster Abbey--how the strong man, with all his matchless intellectual gifts, was bowed there in hushed and tearful raptures of reverence and adoration.

No, brethren, we may invent electric lights, and modern seats, and patent ventilation, and self-acting organs, and the rest, but a true Church, a real Sanctuary of the living God, as our fathers of this tongue and faith of ours long ago reared them, we can never equal and certainly may never hope to improve upon.

For how aptly and adequately do they find a place for the utterance of all those various wants and aspirations, and adorations, and benedictions, for which this structure stands! The prayer-desks for confession, the litany desk for penitence, the pulpit for teaching, the altar for spiritual sacrifices, and then, at last, the minister and priest of God rising "from off his knees and standing and blessing all the congregation"--each and every act representing some need, some acknowledged transgression, some supreme aspiration which we come here to utter and confess--God's minister going before the people into all the depths and mysteries of the individual soul, and then ascending out of them into the realm of ministry and of benediction;--the very Church building itself, standing thus for all that the minister of Christ ought to stand for towards God and towards his flock.

It is this thought, and the fitness of it to this place and this day (which, as I apprehend, you yourselves have already recognized), that have led me to choose it. For it is impossible for me, dear friends of St. John's Church, [12/13] to come here this morning, and, at your bidding, render you this service, without finding it all bound up with memories of one who was as dear to me as he was to you. Your representatives, in asking me here, have reminded me that this Church is in a very real sense a monument to your late Rector. I cannot imagine how any one of you can think of it otherwise. William Tatlock is, alas, no longer here to be your priest and shepherd; and the work which once knew him can know him no more; but that this beautiful and stately sanctuary was, first of all, his dream, and then his aspiration, and then, pre-eminently, his achievement there is no one of you who does not know as well as I. I desire to make grateful mention, here, of the large munificence, in the building of this Church, of every one of those who, whether living or dead, gave of their sympathies or their substance. I desire to recognize, as, if he were here this morning, he would desire me to do, the loyal co-operation with which the Vestry of this Church planned and wrought, under his leadership; and I desire to recall also the generous appreciation by citizens of Stamford, not of this parish nor of our communion, of the work which your late rector did for all Stamford in the building of so real a betterment to every best interest among you. But when every such word is said, as it ought to be said, heartily and unreservedly, there still remains the fact which I think you will not care to dispute, that it was his wise foresight, his calm faith, his unerring taste, his singular combination of prudence and courage, his persistent patience, to which, most of all, we owe this result and this day.

[14] And, in rejoicing in it, I want you to get hold, and keep hold, as pre-eminently illustrated in him, of the one thought with which I first began. When Solomon consecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, he prayed first--gathering up into his prayer all men and all their wants--and with these wants his own--and then he turned and "stood and blessed all the people." Could there be a more perfect picture of that fine spiritual fibre and rare Christian manhood which God had married in William Tatlock? Of his intellectual endowments few people, I venture to think, knew better than I, who wrought in a very delicate and responsible relationship with him for nearly twenty years; and I claim the right to say that, on that side of him, he was a far stronger man than even his professional brethren ordinarily recognized. He possessed a good basis of sound learning, and his conscientious habits of reading and study steadily widened and enlarged it. He had a distinct and definite conviction as to the fundamental verities, and these he held with a firmness and serenity which, in its loyalty to the truth, did not forget the equal duty of charity to the misguided. He had a rare penetration of judgment, and a singular equilibrium in his estimates, whether of facts or of men. But these were not the chief secrets of his power, as they never are. The secret of his power lay in his character, in his high quality, in its absolute integrity, and in its complete transparency. Dr. William Tatlock was not a voluble man, and, less than most of his kind, did he wear his heart upon his sleeve. But he saw straight, and he moved always upon a right line. You could not count upon him for sympathy [14/15] in every novelty, no matter how specious or taking was its aspect or its aim. But for every cause that he had weighed and believed in, whether in the Church or in this community, he had no halting word or hesitating allegiance. Men knew where he stood, and they could count upon him for God and righteousness, in sunshine and storm alike. Is not that true? Do you not know it to be true? Now, then, take that thought of him back to this place, to this occasion, and to our text. "And Solomon rose from off his knees, from praying before the Lord, and he stood and blessed all the people."

(a) There is some one here this morning--some one, do I say? Ah, how many there are!--who can remember when Dr. Tatlock came to them in trouble. There are perfunctory pastors, and perfunctory pastoral visits. Would you say that his was one of them? There was nothing gushing or effusive about him--how quiet he was, how unimpassioned,--but how tender, and strong, and real! There are multitudes of you who have seen him kneel in yonder stall and then enter his pulpit. Does not his fine and reverent voice come back to you, so unaffected, so devout, so rich in its suggestions of a mind subdued by contact with upper airs and quickened by the Holy Ghost!

(b) For he prayed first, and then he stood! What an image of permanence and firmness in that word! And so it was with him. I talked once with a clever divine of another communion about some opinions of his which I read in one of his printed volumes of sermons, [15/16] and said I presumed (they touched the fundamentals of the Faith) that he held them still. He listened to me with a somewhat languid curiosity, and then replied: "Let me see! I wrote that book some eighteen years ago. I don't think, sir, that I believe anything that I believed eighteen years ago!" Dr. Tatlock did. His beliefs were not indeed petrified traditions. He welcomed new light upon them as deepening and widening their meaning. But they stood, and on that rock of clear conviction as to divinely revealed Facts he stood, and wrought, and taught, and "blessed all the congregation."

(c) Yes, all the congregation! I can imagine Solomon, when he rose from kneeling upon his knees, and praying before the altar of the Lord, and turned to bless the people, discerning, in some shadowed corner of the great Temple, some poor wayward child of sin and shame who, with much fear and hesitancy, had crept into the beautiful sanctuary, and, hanging there upon the outer fringe of the vast throng of worshippers, had lingered to catch, if it might be, some note of courage and of hope,--I can imagine, I say, the wise King discerning some such guilty one, and then, thundering in tones of fierce indignation, "Go hence, thou tainted one, and defile not this holy place!" But no; if he discerned such an one he did not banish him. He rose and turned and "stood and blessed all the congregation." It is as though he had said: "Son, daughter, prodigal, fallen one, sinner, outcast, the blessing waits for you. Come and confess, and pray, and wait for it."

[17] And so did all his rare ministry whose monument is not only the tablet upon yonder wall, but this holy house which to-day you give to God! How wide were his sympathies, how large his charity, how inexhaustible his patience, how tender his compassions! By his preaching, by his example, by his pastoral ministries, he proclaimed in unmistakable tones that he belonged to no caste, was the creature of no class, held aloof from no condition, but going in and out among you here, in this Church, in your homes, in yonder streets "blessed all the people!"

It is a great thing for you, men and brethren, to be the inheritors of a noble lineage, and to have, as you have had a bright succession of true and faithful pastors. It is a great thing, also, and a worthy one, to have been able to raise this noble House of God to His glory and honor. May all good memories and saintly lives have meet and due remembrance here! May sorrowing hearts be comforted, and wandering feet recalled, and multitudes be taught by faithful priests and pastors, like unto him of whom these walls must always be memorial; who, standing here, shall break the bread of life, and in God's Holy Name bless all His people!

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