The History of our Cathedral
The Cathedral of All Saints was the first Episcopal cathedral in America to be conceived and built on the English model of church, hospital, convent and school. The brainchild of William Croswell Doane (1832-1914), first Bishop of Albany, the Cathedral was intended to recreate and literally imitate its English prototypes right down to the ancient pavements and stones.
Bishop Doane’s vision was to recreate, as perfectly as possible, an English or European cathedral in America. The Bishop sums it up in his own words. “We want in America, to do everything today; and to finish instantly whatever we begin. The result is poor churches, badly built, cheaply furnished inside and out with stucco and staining. The great churches of the world are the growth of centuries sometimes, and the man who builds a tenth part of a Church well, leaves a truer and better monument than he who builds it all, meanly. I had rather put an unhewn pillar in, rough with scars of its splitting from the virgin rock, and let a third generation shape the shaft and carve the chapiter (capital), till the faces on it speak and the flowers in it smell; than shape, out of sanded wood or moulded plaster, the fairest lie that ever seemed to support what would crush its unreality into powder, if the weight rested on it. …and now the building waits its final completion by some other hands, with only this one satisfaction in my heart, that it never can be built in any mean or small and narrow way, but it must be the carrying on of the great plan so far attained. The Cathedral service is the very highest ideal of the earthly worship of Almighty God. The buildings seem so full of age and song, that the old echoes are awakened, to become the chorus to the anthems of today. The carved Angelic corbels lean over the surpliced singers, till one wonders whether they are listening to, or making, the music of the services. The psalter, as they chant it, furnishes, in every verse, with the thoughtful modulation and adaption of organ and voice, a comment on its meaning, as though a Seraph sang a sermon on the words, awakening and satisfying the most intense idea of penitence or of praise. And this, I confess, I hope to begin a reproduction of, here. Nay, I account this unattractive building and this simple service the cradle of an American Cathedral.”
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