Rogation Days

It is spring, and young women dressed in white make their way through orchards and fields. There are a good number of them, stretching way back into the distance. A small girl leads them, carrying a basket. This is an image about the blessing of the land, and the young women personify spring and summer. They are dressed in white to represent purity. They are on their way to join a great procession for Rogation Day, which will begin in church (where some might also receive their first communion) and then make its way around the edges of the fields to ask for God’s mercy towards all who are dependent upon the produce of the land. There are so many young and beautiful women, that the picture is an image of hope and well-being. All is and will be well, the picture suggests.

The three days before Ascension Day are rogation days. The term rogation comes from the Latin rogare (to ask). Although in Easter Season, these are days for prayer and fasting, for beseeching God to appease God’s anger and keep the people from a natural calamity that would limit the later harvest from the land.

The picture is Young Women Going to a Procession by Jules Breton, 1890.

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Psalm 67

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

William H Barrow 1922

Almighty God,
whose will it is that the earth and the sea
should bear fruit in due season:
bless the labours of those who work on land and sea,
grant us a good harvest
and the grace always to rejoice in your fatherly care;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Collect for Rogation Day, Common Worship