Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title Church bulletin: The Record. Nov., 1930. Church of the Holy Innocents, Hoboken. Sermon for Tercentenary Celebration, Oct. 5, 1930.
Object Name Newsletter
Catalog Number 2009.017.0007
Collection Hoboken Churches & Religion Collection
Credit Gift of John Grouls.
Scope & Content Church bulletin: The Record. November, 1930. Church of the Holy Innocents, Willow Avenue & Sixth Street, Hoboken, N.J. Single folio, 6" x 10" high, [4] pp.

The primary content is a printed sermon by Reverend Edward P. Hooper delivered at the church in connection with the Tercentary Celebration of the Founding of the City of Hoboken, Sunday, October 5, 1930. Full text appears in notes.

The three pages of text used the occasion (a week-long celebration - actually Tercentenary of Hoboken Purchase) to recount the church's own founding including that of the role of "foundress" (founder) Martha Bayard Stevens and her family (notes her other daughter, Caroline Wittpenn, and son, John, his full name not yet found), the building and its major features.

Much of this text in altered form appeared again in the church's 75th anniversary publication of 1947, 2009.017.0006.
Notes 2009.017.0007



All Saints-All Souls
The Festival of All Saints will be observed as usual, beginning with Solemn Evensong, Procession and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, on Friday, October 31st, the Vigil, at 8:00 p.m., November 1st, Low Masses: 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.
There will be Evensong of the Dead on Sunday, November 2nd, at 8:00 p.m.

REV. E. P. HOOPER, Rector
in connection with
The Tercentary Celebration of the Founding of the City of Hoboken
Sunday, October 5, 1930

Text: St. Luke, VII, 15: And He delivered him to his mother.

In this glorious autumn of 1930, we are all happy celebrating the 300th anniversary of the founding of our City of Hoboken. Yesterday marked the initial ceremonies, and, we shall go on through the week with one activity or another, recalling to our minds the history of this City and endeavor to learn, from the past, our duty in the present and in the future. In our churches we are asked to strike a spiritual note, on the observances, and inasmuch as the Church of the Holy Innocents has contributed a great deal to the making of the City, we are happy to respond.

Let us first go back to the beginnings of these buildings, and especially to the human agencies, which made them possible. This is a favorite indulgence of the speaker, which he has found both entertaining and profitable. As I sit through a play or an opera, I am thinking constantly of the author and composer, and, if I know nothing of them or their circumstances, a good deal of the charm is lost. So again, let us go back to the beginnings. We shall find that this church had its beginning in the heart of a little child, Julia Augusta Stevens. Her little heart, just seven years seven months old, ceased to beat in the city of Rome, Italy, on the day after Christmas in the year 1870. On Holy Innocents Day, the little body was laid in its first resting place, near the spot, where centuries before, the aged St. Paul went forth to lay down his life for his Lord. The mother of this little child was Martha Bayard Stevens, of blessed memory, and, if you seek her monument, look about you. I wish we might have, possibly in the vestibule, informing all who enter, that this church is erected to the Greater Glory of God, in loving memory of Julia Augusta Stevens, by her mother, Martha Bayard Stevens.

The parish itself began in very modest circumstances in an upper room in a frame building, on the corner of Grand and Newark Streets, where services and Sunday School were conducted by the Rev. H. F. Hartman, as Priest-in-charge. This work began April 11, 1872. Within six months it was necessary to find larger quarters and the work was removed to the basement of Martha Institute, at the corner of Park Avenue and Sixth Street. The corner-stone of the present building was laid by Bishop Odenheimer on August 11, 1872, and the Building consecrated by him on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24, 1874. In 1895, the building was enlarged, and this portion consecrated by Bishop Starkey on Holy Innocents Day of that year.

Again, going back to beginnings. Three of the foremost architects made their contribution to the parish buildings. Edward Potter designed the three bays at the altar end of the church. The enlargement was entrusted to Henry Vaughan, the great architect of Boston, and the Rectory and Parish House are from the design of W. Halsey Wood, of New York.

Mr. Potter, in designing the present altar end of the church, started the building with a most beautiful conception, taking as his inspiration the lovely Roslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, Scotland. A great deal of his work has never been finished. Detail, much stone carving are left undone to this day and spaces for statues never been filled. Mr. Potter also built a very unique building for the year 1874, for it is absolutely fireproof. The only things that can burn are the furnishings, and Mr. Vaughan carried out the same fire' proof conception. Back of the wainscoting is brick and stone. Under that part of the floor, which is wooden, is a base of brick, resting with the columns on reversed arches in the cellar. Even the roof consists of a false shell of wood, while the true roof is of iron rafters, covered with iron lathing, plastered on the underside and slated on the outside.

The traceried window, over the altar is a magnificent conception and, for its size, one of the most costly in America. The glass in this window, as also the four behind the altar, are from the studio of A. Booker of London, England. The design of the former is that of the Infant Christ, surrounded by worshipping angels, while below is Rachel weeping for her children. It is fortunate, that the four windows behind the altar are not incorporated in the reredos so that they might be seen by the congregation. However, that is something which might be remedied. The full beauty of this end of the church is not apparent at first, except in a general sense. It is only as we take some section and study it, having in mind its still unfinished state, that we appreciate its detail and the possibilities of even greater detail.

Let us take a walk about the building and see how we ought to realize how this building enters rightfully to its place in the Tercentary of the City of Hoboken.

The first and most important thing that strikes our eye, is the altar, of Indiana Limestone, a comparatively recent gift of our beloved Mrs. Wittpenn, in memory of her brother, Mr. Richard Stevens who, as the inscription informs us, was "a servant of Christ and his poor." The whole City of Hoboken knows how true that sentiment is. The choir and clergy seats, as also the grill is of golden quartered oak, with the portable altar rail of the same material. This last a gift of the Woman's Auxiliary. The lectern, or Bible stand, is an original design of elaborate ornamental wrought iron-work from Messrs Hardman & Co., of Birmingham, England. The pulpit of colored marble and wrought iron work is the gift of Col. and Mrs. E. A. Stevens, in memory of Father Moffet (sic - Moffett), a former rector. This pulpit is from the design of Mr. H. M. Congdan, who, in the iron-work, reproduced some of the choir screen of the Cathedral of Lincoln, England. Mr. Congdon, a lovely character and devout churchman, now deceased, furnished an original design in the lighting fixtures.

As we go into the Lady Chapel, we see the altar as designed by Mr. Vaughan with its panels from the studio of Clayton & Bell, of London. This firm also painted the panels at the high altar and executed the window in the Lady Chapel, as also the great West window in the Church. The little figures, in the Lady Chapel, on each side of the tabernacle holding candles, are from the old world and are over three hundred years old. They thus antedate the founding of our city. In the corner is an antique painting, the history of which is unknown, but is supposed to be a painting of great age. The wood carving on the Lady Chapel wall is of Spanish origin and depicts St. Veronica's veil, in conventional form.

In the church, the Stations of the Cross are enameled on beaten copper and come from Paris. The painting over the entrance is a good copy, and, shows the Blessed Virgin and Holy Child with St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist. The painting over the Choir entrance, depicting the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, is Italian and from the Prince Borghesi Collection. A most interesting piece of art is the chalice veil in the case, near the entrance, reputed to be made in the 15th century. We note how even the delicate shades, have preserved their colors. The magnificent piece of tapestry was the gift of Martha Bayard Stevens and is the work of Mme. Jorres, of Munich, famous as the maker of tapestries in the castles of the King of Bavaria. The work was done by Mrs. Steven's direction, to illustrate the subject: "Suffer little children to come unto Me."

The great West window, as already said, is the work of Clayton & Bell, executed in their usual excellent manner. It is in memory of the foundress of the parish and given by her children. The subject is the Te Deum: "We praise Thee, O God. We acknowledge Thee to, be the Lord." We see the figures of Christ seated in glory surrounded by adoring figures, angels, archangels, apostle, martyrs, and saints, easily recognized by representative figures, all looking up to Christ and worshipping Him. Quite appropriately, the Holy Innocents, with their palms, symbolic of martyrdom and victory,are at our Lord's feet. The Rood Screen is also in memory of Martha Bayard Stevens and given by the congregation. An artistic piece of art, is the bas-relief shrine of St. Elizabeth of Hungary; an exquisite mural ornament of marble with painted figure of the saint. The shrine is in memory of Elsie Stevens and given by her aunt, Mrs. Wittpenn.

There remains the Guardian Angel Chapel, at the choir entrance with its exquisite altar and Italian crucifix, which came from the Oratory in the Stevens Castle. This chapel also houses the banners, now rather worn, and also the striking statues of St. Francis Assisi and St. Bruno. Then there is the commodious sacristy, containing things pertaining to the altar and the vestments. Some of the latter are about worn out and there should be gradual replacements made. A good working sacristy and choir room complete the church building.

Nothing has been said of the exterior. We can justly say, it speaks for itself. Inside and outside, the church, rectory, cadet building and the grounds contribute a thing of beauty to our city on its anniversary.

But there are far more important matters than the material fabrics. They are the things of the soul. We may see in the motives of the foundress of the parish, nobly followed by her descendants, the glory of service to God in appreciation of His power and might as given to men in the Christian Faith.

This church was founded as a "free church", in the days when there were few such. Free, in that it was God's house, where all God's children might come to their Heavenly Father with equal rights, whether they have much or little of this world's goods. The foundress of this parish stood modestly by, while the Bishop laid the cornerstone, her son, John, carrying the things to be deposited therein and her daughter, Caroline, now Mrs. Wittpenn, laying her offering of beautiful flowers on the stone after it was laid. Mrs. Stevens did not build this church for her family or her friends, but for the people of the city.

It was built to teach and preach the pure faith of God's Holy Catholic Church. Not a truth which might be popular or a moral that was easy, but a truth which was God's and a moral that was taken from the teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. From the day of its consecration, the Holy Eucharist has been the chief act of worship on Sunday. There has gone up daily the pleading of the Holy Sacrifice and daily the priest goes to his work of prayer and worship. The Blessed Sacrament is ready and the Holy Oil of Unction for the sick, and the clergy ready day and night to answer the call of her people. Confession is taught as a great and blessed privilege and hundreds of souls have experienced the joy and certainty of sin forgiven. This parish has taught and beli[e]ved the clear mandates of the Book of Common Prayer - its express directions and its clear implications.

When you think of the truths, that have been taught--here; and, from here have gone out into the world; of the children and adults baptized, of the persons confirmed by the Bishop, of the penitents absolved; of the communicants fed with the Bread of Life, of the dying solaced in their last moments, and, of the dead lying within these sacred walls for the last offices; I think you will say with me, that there can be no greater work than this.

Thousands have been fitted to take their place in life and eternity.

What glori[o]us examples we have had of people living saintly and heroic lives right in our midst. Time fails to allow me to speak of all of them and many of them are known only to God. But we have had such examples as the Rev. Charles Parsons, the first rector of this parish, who left to go to Memphis, Tennessee, and in the worst epidemic of yellow fever this country has ever seen when others were fleeing away. He stayed at his post and died of the dread pest. Or the Rev. Louis Schuyler. curate of this parish, who, knowing there was no one to take Father Parsons' place went to Memphis and died there also in the same epidemic. This parish has the distinguished honor of being associated with two martyr priests. Father John Sword singularly self-effacing and self-denying. Father Moffet an example of quiet placid saintliness. Father Magill for thirty years rector and an example of a great organizer.

Also let us remember the long list of men and women, which we honor and regard especially in our commemoration of the departed on All Soul's Day. Men of great importance, not only in this city, but nationally, such as Colonel Stevens and his brother Richard, and humble ones such as Henry Cross, a convert, and literally faithful unto death, for he was here in this church daily as long as God permitted him to be in good health. Saints have been made here. The very walls and atmosphere cry it out. What a challenge to our loyalty! What an incentive for us to measure up to our responsibilities! What a demand for our devotion! Ah, brethren, the saints of God differed from one another in many ways. Some were poor, some were rich; some were ignorant and some were learned; some were old and some were young, but they all had one thing in common. They were all given by our blessed Lord to their holy mother, the Church, and, they became saints because they heeded that mother. They obeyed and followed her and gave her loving devotion. What is true of them is true of us. Our dear Lord has also given us to our mother, the Church. The young man in the Holy Gospel for this day was raised from death and given to his mother. So you and I are delivered from death; from the world, the flesh and the devil--the things which make for death, and delivered to our mother. The mother, which means life and blessedness, hope and joy. Years ago we might have gone past this church, while it was building and seen the workers erecting it. We would have seen the masons chipping and chiselling and fitting each piece for its rightful place. We are just those stones, each being chipped and shaped and the rough edges of our nature taken off; and, all finally to make a beautiful temple. After all, it is the souls of people, that make a parish, that make a city, that make a country. You might have buildings, but there is no city until it is peopled. The right kind of a city is made up of the right kind of people. That is what our holy mother, the Church is trying to do with us; to make us right, right with God and man. People, that are right, are righteous people and if this city is peopled with that sort, its future is assured. The city will be a haven, wherein it will be a joy to live; where its inhabitants will be clean and wholesome; a place where back-yards are as clean as the front; a city abreast of the times, where people will be supplied by the property owners with the good things of modern living, which they now have to seek in other communities.

All may be accomplished for us and for our city, if we will remember, on this 300th Anniversary, our mother's teaching and care.


People Stevens, Martha Bayard
Wittpenn, Mrs. H. Otto
Stevens, Caroline
Diereling, Caleb
Hooper, Father Edward P.
Stevens, Elsie
Moffett, Reverend George Herbert
Stevens, John
Date 1930-1930
Year Range from 1930
Year Range to 1930
Search Terms Church of the Holy Innocents
Sixth St.
Willow Avenue
Tercentenary of Hoboken Purchase
Caption front cover, pg [1]
Imagefile 072\20090170007.TIF
Classification Church
Social & Personal Activity
Parades & Pageants