Rogation 2020

by Michael Ford last modified 22 May, 2020 10:45 PM

Rogation is an ancient, annual 'asking of God' for His blessing on the seeds and the land for the farming year ahead.

Rogation 2020

Courtesy Richard D'Silva on YouTube

The English word Rogation comes from the Latin word 'rogare', meaning "to ask," and refers to prayers for God’s blessings on the seeds, harvests, and hard work of those who produce our food.

Historically, the Rogation Days (the 3 days before Ascension Day) were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest. Many churches and benefices hold outdoor services and prayer-walk their parish boundaries, even in cities.

In our largely rural Diocese, Rogation is very much alive.

Bishop Andrew wrote a blog entitled 'The Rutted Path, beginning:

"May is the abundant month: her bounties come in showers. Overpowering mists of hawthorn, elegant cranes of buttercups: uplifted nature’s open hand. So, in the coming days, Rogationtide – when, by ancient custom, parish bounds are beaten and (in those tracks) the waxing crops are blessed. A time to consider the benefit of this particular plot: the yield of the season."

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He also filmed 2 episodes of 'Going to Ground', his YouTube series, in support. The episode on preparing for Rogation is here, and his Rogation Sunday YouTube video, filmed on the Ridgeway, is here.

In Harnham, one parishioner ran the 13km parish boundary to raise money for Christian Aid, and the parish team created a music and prayer video with views of the area, with some of its flowers and wildlife along the route, and held their own distanced service on Rogation Sunday as they walked.

Watch the YouTube video here.

The Benefice of Puddletown, Tolpuddle & Milborne St Andrew with Dewlish was blessed with a service courtesy the Revd Sarah Hillman, broadcasting from her study with a mixture of liturgy, pre-recorded songs and beautiful imagery.

Watch it on YouTube here.

In Wyke Regis, parishioner Jean Walkden shared a memory:

"My 4 brothers were all in the choir and I was part of the bell ringing team. A very old tradition was to “beat the bounds” of the parish on this day. We all walked around the boundary of our parish and the youngest choir boy was bounced on the boundary stones, which were still there! My youngest brother had to endure this twice! It was always a hilarious walk."

In Abbotsbury, Portesham and Langton Herring, the Revd Margaret Preuss-Higham did an outside solo broadcast from Corton Farm, and the Clarendon Team broadcast a team service from Witherington Farm.

Watch Margaret's video on Facebook, and Clarendon's on YouTube.

Rogation 2020- Courtesy @NelsonJenny50 on Twitter 
Courtesy @NelsonJenny50 on Twitter

In the Wylye and Till Valley Benefice, the Rogation Sunday prayer was: "For the fruits of all creation, thanks be to God; for the gifts of every nation, thanks be to God; for the ploughing, sowing, reaping, silent growth while we are sleeping, future needs in earth's safe-keeping, thanks be to God."

And in Alderholt: "Remember, Lord, your mercy and loving-kindness towards us. Bless this good earth, and make it fruitful. Bless our labour, and give us all things needed for our daily lives. Bless the homes of our parish and all who live within them. Bless our common life and our care for our neighbour. Hear us, good Lord. Amen."

St Andrew's Melksham had a solo broadcast by the Revd Alison Sowton, with a mixture of visual aids, onscreen images and recorded song.

View it on Facebook here.

Hilfield Friary's Richard Thornbury said:

"We kept Rogation by processing around the Friary grounds and asking God's blessing on our plants and animals farmed and wild, our life and work together at Hilfield and for all our guests who we hope will be able to be with us again soon."

Rogation 2020- Courtesy Richard Thornbury on Facebook 
Courtesy Richard Thornbury on Facebook

Sixpenny Handley featured Rural Officer Richard Hancock, leading a service in the churchyard with his wife Kate, and singing to backing tracks as well as leading and preaching. The Facebook video has a good number of positive comments and thank-yous.

View it here, and see his address to Winterbourne Valley & Milton Abbas Benefice here.

But Rogation was not restricted to Sunday.

The Beaminster Team started on Friday 15th of May with a video of silaging by a local farming family, and made sure there were suitable worship resources available via social media ahead of time and on the day.

The Nadder Valley and St John's Tisbury posted daily prayers and thoughts on Facebook from Sunday 17th until Wednesday 29th.

And Winterbourne Valley and Milton Abbas Benefice also featured a video made by a local farmer, using local imagery from Turnworth Farm, with a version of 'Canticle of the Sun' as the soundtrack. View it here.

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