The practice of giving thanks for the harvest goes back to the earliest times, when offerings were made of the first-fruits of the crop, and a celebratory supper to which the whole community was invited was held at the end of the harvest period.
The “traditional” Harvest Festival, with the church decorated with home-grown produce, and hymns such as “We plough the fields and scatter” and “Come ye thankful people, come” is actually only Victorian in its origins. It can be traced to September 1843, when Robert Hawker, the newly-arrived rector of Morwenstow in Cornwall, put up a notice in his church for a special thanksgiving service: “Let us gather together in the chancel of our church, and there receive, in the bread of the new corn, that blessed sacrament which was ordained to strengthen and refresh our souls.”
We sing the same hymns today, enjoy similar fellowship in our Harvest Supper (on 2nd October), decorate the church (Gill’s helpers will be at work from 10.00am on 3rd October) and raise thankful hearts to God for his bounty that sustains us, even though we are not as intimately connected with nature as our forebears, and the gifts we offer are not food we have grown ourselves, but things that will help others less well off than ourselves in other parts of this country or of the world. Which is why you are welcomed to share in a Hunger Lunch on 4th October.
We welcome you to join us to celebrate Harvest, and to come back later in the month as we share “that blessed sacrament which was ordained to strengthen and refresh our souls”.