Monday 24th February
Our new Nave Door was blessed on the Feast of the Ascension 2018, completing a five year process of implementation. It is a Memorial Door in honour of the late Robert Frederick Goldhammer 1931 - 2014, businessman, philanthropist, and member of this congregation. His plaque next to the door carved by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, says "Porta aeternum revelat" ("The door reveals eternity"), as we look into the Chapel, a meeting place with God, a place where His presence is symbolised by the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a hanging pyx in the Lady Chapel.
The door was designed by the prize winning architect Craig Hamilton. Fr Richard Fermer asked him to reflect in his designs the Ninian Comper screen of the east end , both picking up the sense of a threshold, by using the gold bars of the screen and hand-blown glass, but also the story of Christ and his mother Mary told in the lunnettes of the screen, the last of which is the meeting of the women with the angel in the empty tomb, which would be continued in the tympanum of the new door.
The bas-relief sculpture of the tympanum was created by Professor Alexander Stoddart, FRSE, who, since 2008 has been the Queen's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland and has undertaken many major public commissions. Fr Richard Fermer chose with Mr. Goldhammer's widow the extra-biblical scene, found in the Church's tradition of the Resurrected Christ meeting his mother. As the Comper lunnettes of the east screen show dynamic meetings - Mary and Gabriel at the Annunciation, Elizabeth and Mary at the Visitation, the Birth of Christ with Mary and Joseph kneeling either side of the manger with light streaming from it like a rising sun - Sandy Stoddart was asked to convey that sense of encounter, which he has done through the reaching out of Jesus and Mary to each other, with hands nearly meeting, as if Christ is lifting Mary out of her grief and loss. To those who look in from South Audley Street, the message is conveyed, not only that here is a place of meeting with the Divine, but also a place of salvation and healing: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I shall give you rest" (Matthew 11.28), and "Come and see!" (John 1.39).
At the Blessing of the door in the Sung Eucharist of Ascension Sunday, the Grosvenor Chapel Choir sung a specially commissioned motet, "The Highgate Motet" by Sir James MacMillan, set to words drawn from + Lancelot Andrewes "Preces Privatae" by Gina Goldhammer:
I have sought Thee and Thy face:
Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
I will lay me down in peace
and take my rest.
Day is fled and gone:
with Thee night is no night
and darkness [as] the noonday light.
Into Thy hands, O Lord,
I commend my spirit,
For Thou hast redeemed me,
O Lord God of truth.
I will make my prayer to the God of my life.
I will bless Thee as long as I live,
and lift up my hands in Thy name.
Let my prayer rise before Thee as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.
Blessed are Thou, O Lord our God.