Emily Brown Lambert Chrismons
Emily Lambert’s Gift for Every Generation
Chrismons to adorn our Church’s Christmas tree
by Reginald Carter, Church Historian
What are those beautiful, handmade ornaments that adorn our Church’s Christmas tree at the beginning of Advent each year? They are called Chrismons, a term that comes from the Latin phrase “Christi Monogramma,” meaning “monogram of Christ.” A chrismon is one of a number of Christian symbols representing aspects of the ministry of Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death and resurrection, as well as, the life, ministry and history of the Church. What about the Chrismons on our tree? Where did they come from – who made them?
Most of the Chrismons hanging from the branches of our Christmas tree were created in the 1980s by members of our church family. They were organized, inspired and guided by Emily Lambert who believed that the chrismons would keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas. Emily was very active in the Women’s' Missionary Union, WMU, and shared her talents of quilting and other craft activities. Many assisted Emily in the creation of Chrismons, including adult church members as well as children through RA's, GA's, Sunday School and the Youth. When the Chrismons were completed, Emily would ask children of the congregation to assist her in hanging the ornaments and she would explain their meaning. In the years to follow Emily would be a part of a church ceremony, "The Hanging of the Greens" and at that time children again helped with the Chrismons and were reminded of the meaning of selected ornaments.
Emily Brown Lambert was born at Guildford College, NC on May 12, 1912, the daughter of James Edward Sr. and Nellie Wakefield Brown. She and her husband, Dewey Winfred Lambert, moved to the Orange High School community of Hillsborough in 1975 and became active members of First Baptist Church. Emily was a Life Member of garden clubs in Charlottesville, VA and Hillsborough, NC and enjoyed participating in church and community service projects. Emily and Dewey moved to Twin Lakes Retirement Community in Burlington, NC in 1994 and became active members of the First Baptist Church of Elon. Dewey and Emily had been married 62 years when he died at age 92 in 2001. When members of our church would visit Emily in Burlington, she would always ask if the church was still using the Chrismons that she and others had lovingly fashioned for the Christmas tree. A smile came to her face when reassured that the Chrismons were still being used and well cared for by the church.
Although most in our church family today do not remember Emily Lambert, her gift of a Chrismon adorned Christmas tree at First Baptist lives on to be enjoyed by this and hopefully many more generations to come. Emily passed away in 2010 at age 98.
Below are some examples of Chrismons that have been made by various members of our Church family. The heavy use of pearls represents the Bible as containing precious "pearls of wisdom". The colors of the Chrismons are gold and white to represent the purity and perfection of Jesus Christ and His majesty and glory. Early Christians used symbols to identify themselves to one another to designate meeting places of the early church and to declare their belief in Christ. These early symbols of the church helped to transmit the Christian faith for centuries.
White rose- representative of the Nativity and of Virgin Mary.
Butterfly - the immortality of the soul.
Cross- a generic Christian cross, a common symbol of Jesus' crucifixion and of salvation.
Other Chrismons and Their Meaning
Circle: symbolizes the world, God's wholeness, and eternal life.
Crown: Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jerusalem Cross: (Large cross with four smaller crosses in each quad)
This cross was worn by the crusaders going to Jerusalem.
Fish: (ichthus in translation and IXOYC in Greek) a symbol used in early church times to secretly communicate a Christian, one to another
Dove: represents peace. Also scripture reference to God caring for the sparrows, Matthew 10: 29-31 and Luke 12:24
Cross above the world: God’s care and love His creation and for us all
Butterfly: represents resurrection
Celtic Cross: a cross with “wide” arms to denote the crucifixion and resurrection
Greek Cross: arms are of equal length
Star of eight points: the “extra” 2 points symbolize regeneration and baptism
Triangle and Trinitarian: stand for the Trinity.
Alpha and Omega: the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet to symbolize the beginning and the end, as God is the beginning and the end of all (Omega is like an upside down “U” with handles.)
IHS or IHC: Iota, Eta, Sigma--The three Greek letters are the first three in the Greek word for Jesus.
Box: represents Christ as the cornerstone of the kingdom of God
Lamp and Candle: Jesus of the Light of the World
Chi Rho: the first 2 Greek letters for the word Christ (Looks like the letter “P” with an “X” superimposed.)
Shepard’s Crook: Jesus is the Good Shepard
These listed Chrismon shapes are some of the many Chrismons. Further information may be found on the web.
Information was gathered from the following web site:
Collected by Paul G. Donelson
Paul G. Donelson, 403 Brenot Court, Blissfield, MI 49228
*Ascension Lutheran Church, Danville, VA, holds the copyright on the word "Chrismons". It was given to them by Mrs. Frances Spencer, who originated the concept and brought it to fruition in that church in 1957.
Note: Reggie Carter (Historian), Joyce Ward, and Liz Waters helped to prepare this exhibit for our history website.
Posted November 28, 2011
First Baptist Church of Hillsborough, 223 West King Street, Hillsborough NC 27278, 919-732-8174