Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville
Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral parish of the Episcopal Archdiocese of Tennessee. The structure, designed by noted architect Francis Hatch Kimball, was built between 1889 and 1894 and, according to its National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nomination form, "is considered the finest example of Victorian Gothic architecture in Nashville." It is particularly noted for its sanctuary, which "has a distinctive early English atmosphere." It was entered in the NRHP in November 1978.
Backstory and Context
Christ Church is known as the "School for Bishops," as eight of its rectors have gone on to become bishops of the Episcopal Church, two of them in Tennessee. Many parish churches in the area have been organized with the support and guidance of Christ Church. The institution is noted for its unusual stability and continuity. For example, over the last 100 years, only three organist-choirmasters have served the parish. However, the church has also embraced change, as it elected its first female in the vestry in 1969 and employed its first female priest in 1985. The church became a cathedral only within the past 20 years, after having been entered in the National Register of Historic Places.
The church is constructed of Sewanee sandstone and Bowling Green stone. Its large rose window faces Broadway, and a rectangular tower, completed in 1947, features openwork tracery. Unique to Nashville are the stone gargoyles decorating the exterior. In the interior, the nave, supported by granite columns, displays beautiful woodwork. The stained glass clerestory windows are made of Tiffany Glass. The altarpiece was strikingly executed by Swiss-born master woodcarver Melchior Thoni, Jr.
As the church's website states, “Music is a vital part of the Cathedral’s liturgies, offered to the glory of God and for the nurture of his people.” There are four choral ensembles at Christ Church Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir is a 28-voice trained choir that sings at the 11:00 a.m. Sunday service, as well as singing Choral Evensong several times a year and the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols. The Senior Choristers of the Cathedral Choristers are a children’s' choral group, consisting of singers from 4th grade through high school. The Junior Choristers of the Cathedral Choristers consist of singers in the 2nd and 3rd grades. The Parish Choir, an ensemble of teenagers and adults who do not commit to the rigorous rehearsal schedule of the Cathedral Choir, nevertheless sing for the church three times a year, mostly for the fun of it.
Coke, Mrs. William G., Jr. (archivist). “Christ Church.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service. Publication Date: 6/6/78; Access Date: 4/28/19. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/36bc1b50-3633-4dc5-b23e-c75c58651e4f.
“Christ Church.” NPGallery, Digital Asset Management System. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service. Access Date: 4/28/19. https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/78002577.
“History, Tours and Archives.” Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville. Access Date: 4/28/19. https://www.christcathedral.org/history-tours-archives.
“Christ Church Cathedral.” Nashville Downtown Partnership. Access Date: 4/28/19. https://www.nashvilledowntown.com/go/christ-church-cathedral.
“Francis H[atch] Kimball - architect (*1845 †1919)”; archINFORM; Access Date: 4/28/19; https://www.archinform.net/arch/73805.htm.
"Melchior Thoni, Jr. - 1849-1926." Waymarking.com. Access Date: 4/28/19. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM29HX_MELCHIOR_THONI_JR_1849_1926_2E_71.
“Music – Christ Church Cathedral.” Christ Church Cathedral. Access Date: 4/28/19. https://www.christcathedral.org/music.