Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while will recognise the title of this one. Every year my church of St Felix and St Michael at Rumburgh holds a special Plough Blessing service on the first Sunday after Epiphany. Epiphany is on the 6th of January and celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus. The first Sunday after Epiphany is Plough Sunday and the following day is Plough Monday when traditionally, work on the land is recommenced after the Christmas break. These days there is no real break for Christmas and farm workers do not suffer from the terrible poverty they did in former times though they are still not very highly-paid. Here is a link to the ‘Old Glory’ site of our local Molly Men. Please take time to look at all their pages if you can.
The decorated plough in the nave of the church
The decorated plough
I enjoy this short service each year. In it, we look forward to spring, summer and harvest and pray that not only will there be enough warmth and rain to grow the crops but that we will not take anything for granted and will thank God for his care of us. We don’t just pray for ourselves but for all farmers throughout the world. Each component of the plough is blessed – the beam, the mouldboard, the slade, the sidecap, the share and the coulters.
I love the words from the prayer of gratitude.
From God comes every good and perfect gift:
The rich soil, the smell of the fresh-turned earth.
The keenness of a winter’s frost and our breath steaming.
The hum of the tractor, the gleam of a cutting edge.
The beauty of a clean-cut furrow, the sweep of a well-ploughed field.
The hymn at the end of the service is ‘We Plough the Fields, and Scatter…’
During Harvest-tide we get a little tired of singing this hymn as all the churches in our benefice have their own harvest service and the hymn is very popular, especially with the farming families. However, singing it at this time of year, so gloomy and cold as it is, gives hope and cheer so we all sing with gusto!
The plough and some of the costumes of the Molly Men.
The plough is left in the church over-night and is ready to be processed down the lane to the pub the next evening on Plough Monday. There are no street lights here and the nights are black at this time of the year. Flaming torches are carried to light the way. This year they won’t be accompanied by the church bells which will be silent out of respect to one of the ringers who died suddenly a few days ago.
Here is a film made in 2010 of the procession of Old Glory with the plough from the church to the Rumburgh ‘Buck’ pub.
Thanks for visiting!