Yesterday we gathered for a very special Evensong in thanksgiving for the beautification of the church in recent years and for the generosity of all who enabled it to happen. It was a very uplifting and fitting occasion ably led by our choir who were bolstered for the night by various friends from local choral groups.
The Evensong setting was fittingly the Pepenbury Responses and the anthem, sung during the solemn blessing of the new window, was ‘This is the record of John’ by Orlando Gibbons. The three psalms were sung to Anglican chant and our hymns were Lead us heavenly Father, lead us, Eternal Father strong to save and Lead thou me on. The first two to reflect the nautical backstory of the new window. The final hymn penned by Blessed John Henry Newman, patron of the Ordinariate.
Monsignor Keith Newton and Bishop Paul Mason were our special clerical guests and we were also joined by clergy from the local deanery, ecumenical guests and former priests of the parish. A cohort from the Worshipful Company of window Glaziers were present having been so helpful in enabling us to secure the and restore the window. They were presented with a plaque which is to be erected in church in their honour.
After the Evensong and solemn blessing of the window we all moved outside for a glass of bubbly and some canapés. Huge thanks to the ladies of the congregation who prepared the feast. Guests mingled and enjoyed a late summer evening. They included the headmistress of Kent College, pictured below right, which ensured my daughter Jemima was on very best behaviour. It will be her school in September!
I was delighted that two representatives of the parish of Shottermill in Surrey made the journey to Pembury to be with us. This is the parish that gifted us the gorgeous reredos by C. R. Ashbee which is now located in the Sacred Heart Chapel. It is of exquisite quality and remarked on by most every visitor to St. Anselm’s. Their parish, along with all who have gifted us items, were prayed for during the service.
Once everyone was refreshed they were marshalled back together by Father Nicholas, who was given some extremely rare praise from his priest for all his help in dealing with the procurement of the window. I simultaneously apologised to the Worshipful Company for having unleashed his eccentricity upon them. As you can spy over his shoulder Ron Crane was also present on behalf of the Ordinariate Portal- so watch this space!
We were then treated to a speech from Michael, a key figure at the Worshipful Company, who gave us the backstory of how our window came to be in their care. Rather shockingly, before they got hold of it, it spent several years lying on the garage floor of a vicarage! His speech brought home just how vital is the work of the Company in preserving, restoring and rehoming stained glass which is part of our national treasure.
All in all a wonderful evening then on which to thank God for the beautification of our parish. Looking back we have achieved a great deal together since the Ordinariate first arrived in Pembury seven years ago. May the next seven be just as exciting and full of life and promise.
For more photographs click on this link.