Monday, Tuesday, and today are the Rogation Days – days devoted to prayer for the year’s crops. We’ve mentioned ‘Rogationtide’ briefly recently and looked at the Collects for these days. On this last day of the trio, let’s take a look at a rogation hymn. The 2017 hymnal has two hymns for Rogationtide, and the 1940 hymnal has just one, so let’s look at that. (Sing it to the tune KINGSFOLD.)
O Jesus, crowned with all renown,
Since thou the earth hast trod,
Thou reignest, and by thee come down
Henceforth the gifts of God.
Thine is the health and thine the wealth
That in our halls abound,
And thine the beauty and the joy
With which the years are crowned.
Lord, in their change, let frost and heat,
And winds and dews be giv’n;
All fost’ring power, all influence sweet,
Breathe from the bounteous heav’n.
Attemper fair with gentle air
The sunshine and the rain,
That kindly earth with timely birth
May yield her fruits again.
That we may feed the poor aright,
And, gath’ring round thy throne,
Here, in the holy angels’ sight,
Repay thee of thine own;
That we may praise thee all our days,
And with the Father’s Name,
And with the Holy Spirit’s gifts,
The Savior’s love proclaim. Amen.
Just as the days, and the first Collect, enjoin us, this hymn expresses a prayer for a successful harvest, as well as attention to the purpose of a good harvest: to feed the poor, make offering to God, praise the Lord, and proclaim Christ’s love to the world.
As a child and teenager, that second stanza would have struck me as silly. Who sings about the weather? Plants just grow, crops are produced, if something goes wrong in one place you buy from another. A child of the 20th century, I did not appreciate the significance of the natural order; many people today probably think this way their entire lives. And to a large extent, much of the Developed World is able to live that way: if disaster strikes part of the country, certain food prices might increase a little as we import from other places, but on the whole we have the luxury of being unaffected by the weather. Unless you’re the one whose livelihood just got destroyed, of course.
So singing a song like this is made all the more important in our day and age; it reminds us just how much is involved in the background of growing our food, and providing the many natural resources that go into various other products of commerce and industry. Our lifestyles may only tangentially be impacted by the weather, even severe weather, but for others it’s critical. The Rogation Days, and hymns like this one, can help us remember that.
Note: There are other layers to the Rogation Days which have not been explored, or even mentioned, in recent posts on this blog. Perhaps next year we’ll hit upon some other aspects of Rogationtide, and how they can be observed in the course of private and congregational worship.