As our church garden bursts forth its springtime beauty, and the bees buzz happily among the flowers, we celebrate Rogation Days in the church calendar. These are the three days prior to Ascension Day (May 18, this year). A fifth-century bishop in France began the tradition of Rogation (from the Latin rogatio for “asking”) by mandating a period of fasting and prayer in order to stave off potential disasters. Rogation Days then became associated with the planting season in England. The local vicar would lead a procession around the fields, blessing them by praying a litany and reciting psalms.
And so this coming Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are particularly felicitous times to give thanks for the glory of nature, and to ask God’s blessing on all the growth (both literal and figurative!) in our lives. To that end, here is a lovely poem by John Keble, the 19th-century priest and poet:
For the Rogation Days
Lord in Thy Name Thy servants plead,
And Thou hast sworn to hear;
Thine is the harvest, Thine the seed,
The fresh and fading year:
Our hope, when Autumn winds blew wild,
We trusted, Lord, with Thee;
And still, now Spring has on us smiled,
We wait on Thy decree.
The former and the latter rain,
The summer sun and air,
The green ear, and the golden grain,
All Thine, are ours by prayer.
Thine too by right, and ours by grace,
The wondrous growth unseen,
The hopes that soothe, the fears that brace,
The love that shines serene.
So grant the precious things brought forth
By sun and moon below,
That Thee in Thy new heaven and earth
We never may forego.