Christmas Lamp in Glencairn Chapel (1930s or 40s)

lampdec08.jpgThe chapel in Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, has a floor lamp with a unique handcrafted lampshade depicting the Christmas story (11.OP.02). The six-paneled shade was commissioned by Raymond Pitcairn in the late 1930s or early 1940s when Glencairn was being decorated, and was designed and painted by Francis (“Frank”) Eugene Snyder (1908-1995). It is made of plexiglas panels, which Synder painted with oils, using a variety of media to achieve the appearance and texture of stained glass when the light is turned on. All six panels are shown here with accompanying quotations.

annunciationdec08.jpg“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28).


visitationdec08.jpg “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth” (Luke 1:39-40).


nativitydec08.jpg“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Luke 2:15).


presentationdec08.jpg“Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy Word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:28-32).

wisemendec08.jpg“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1-2).

flightdec08.jpg “When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matt. 2:14-15).

Frank Snyder was employed as an artist by Raymond Pitcairn between the years 1937 and 1940 to work on a number of projects in Glencairn. In addition to the Christmas lampshade, he designed and painted five others, each with a different theme. He also designed and painted a large mural in Michael Pitcairn’s room based on Emanuel Swedenborg’s work The Doctrine of Charity. After his time at Glencairn, Snyder continued to work on occasional projects, including several Christmas card designs for the Pitcairns. In 1943 he produced the illustrations for Raymond Pitcairn’s pamphlet Today We are Americans All.

Frank Snyder’s career as an artist was long and varied. In 1929 he went to Italy to study art and remained there until 1935, travelling, studying, and supporting himself through painting and illustrating. Upon his return to the United States he found employment creating murals for theaters and private residences. During the Second World War he was employed as a technical illustrator and engineering draftsman with three different aircraft companies. After the war he resumed freelance portraiture, which he had begun during his time in Italy. In 1954 he took a job as an illustrator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, holding a number of positions until his retirement in 1973.

Photos: The photographs of the Christmas lampshade in Glencairn’s chapel were taken by Stewart Farmer.

Previous New Church History Fun Facts about Christmas:

Early Academy Christmas and New Year Cards (1885-1892)

The Great Santa Claus and Christmas Tree Debate (1888-1913)

Stained Glass Christmas Window by Lawrence Saint (1919)

Nativity Scenes by Winfred S. Hyatt (1929)

Bernice Stroh Sandstrom Nativity Set (c. 1937)

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December 24, 2008 | Posted by: Ed and Kirsten Gyllenhaal in New Church History Fun Fact