This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of our parish magazine. You can read it again here:
Harvest Song (Mark and Helen Johnson)
At this time of year St Margaret’s Children’s Choir likes to sing a song about the process of planting, nurturing, growing and harvesting crops. It is a happy tune that swings along in lilting 6/8 time, and reminds me of the story of the Little Red Hen. She worked hard to plant, grow, harvest and mill grain. She asked her farmyard companions for help at every stage, “who will help me?” but they all replied, “not I”. It is only when she drew her freshly baked bread from the oven that they all offered to help to eat it, with great enthusiasm. “Harvest Song” makes the point that food production is a slow process and hard work; we need to be patient with nature, and grateful to everyone involved. We should of course also do our bit to help by sharing what we have, and avoiding waste. The lyrics of the song are:
- There is a farmer who stands in his fields,
- And he sees all the work to be done.
- He has been watching for many a month,
- He’s been waiting for this day to come.
- There’s a song to sing as the harvest comes in,
- To the One who gives sunshine and rain.
- Let us all join in with a thank-offering
- For the harvest that’s gathered again.
- There was a time when the fields were prepared,
- And the good soil was carefully ploughed.
- Then came the day for the farmer to sow
- And the seeds were all scattered around.
- There was a time for the farmer to wait
- As the seeds slowly grew out of sight.
- Then came the day when the first shoots appeared,
- And the farmer was filled with delight.
- Now is the time when the crops are full grown,
- And the farmer must gather them in.
- He’ll need some help ’cause there’s lots to be done,
- And it’s hard to know where to begin.
Harvest is a time of celebration, and during this season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” it is good to take stock and give heartfelt thanks for all that we have – somewhere warm, dry and secure to sleep each night; hot food regularly through each and every day; hot, cold and clean running water; friends and family to love, and be loved by, us; our individual gifts and talents…
Think now of all the war zones around the world, of the famines, floods and other natural disasters reported on the news all too frequently. Think more locally now about the families living in the UK – in our own locality – in poverty, relying on food banks, or on soup kitchens and cast-off winter coats.
Let’s not forget our weekly Holy harvest. Every time the Eucharist is celebrated, thanks is given for “this bread…which earth has given and human hands have made” and for the “fruit of the vine and work of human hands”, all given to us by the goodness of the Lord God of all creation. They become for us the bread of life and the cup of salvation, representing the body and blood of Jesus. Remember His parable about the ear of grain? Are we an adequate harvest to reap from His sacrifice?