Video: Time lapse of stained-glass windows at Washington National Cathedral

I have decided to focus my project to visit 52 houses of worship in 52 weeks on New York City — but that doesn’t mean we can’t look elsewhere. This video, which was originally shot back in 2015, was recently updated with an original score and has been making the rounds on social media and other corners of the internet.

I feel a bit of a personal connection to Washington National Cathedral. I lived for several years in Washington, D.C. One of the first places I lived was just blocks from the National Cathedral, and I felt fortunate to saunter over to it almost any time I wanted. I would wander the grounds in all different seasons, or I would seek peace and quiet and a space to think and contemplate inside its walls. (The cathedral didn’t charge admission at the time, so visitors could enter as they pleased. I miss those days.)

Sunset over Washington National Cathedral
The sun sets over Washington National Cathedral, as seen from my apartment, 25 April 2009.

It was while living in that neighborhood that I met the woman who would become my wife. The first apartment we lived in together after we got married had a sweeping view of much of Washington. A window in our bedroom perfectly framed the cathedral sitting atop the hill near the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues in Northwest Washington.

It is easily one of the most cohesive examples of High Gothic religious architecture anywhere in the world. Though the cathedral took over eight decades to complete, that is considerably shorter than the spans of several hundred years it took to complete many of Europe’s most prominent cathedrals. Those older cathedrals are beautiful of course, but they can often be a mix of architectural styles as they evolved with changing technology, tastes, and economies. Washington National Cathedral offers one of the best examples what its predecessors would have looked like had they been completed in only a generation or two rather than two, three, or even four centuries.

This video celebrates the interplay of light and color with the architecture and ornamentation inside the cathedral as the sun moves from east to west throughout the day. The cathedral itself faces west, so the sun rises over the choir and apse at the east end or “back” of the cathedral. The video closes with the sun setting behind the large rose window at the front of the cathedral, between the two west towers. Inside and out, the cathedral is simply magnificent, as is this video.

The imagery in the video was shot by Colin Winterbottom. The original score is by Danyal Dhondy.


In case you’re keeping up with it, I’ll be back to visiting houses of worship for 52 in 52 soon. My wife and I are buying an apartment and moving soon, which has kept us busy, as has being a stay-at-home dad for three small children and doing consulting and other work on the side. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out where I’ve already been on my blog, and keep following along on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. (There’s a map, too, below which I recently added a chronological list with links to blog posts.)

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