We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand.
He sends the snow in winter
The warmth to swell the grain
The breezes and the sunshine
And soft refreshing rain.
Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) was a German newspaper man, the son of a Lutheran pastor. His faith diminished as he grew up, but serious illness caused him to think again.
During his illness he wrote a number of poems including ‘Wir pflügen und wir streuen’, in 1782. Based on Psalm 144, it had 17 verses depicting God as the generous provider. This poem was then published across Germany in number of hymnbooks…
In 1862 a British English teacher, Jane Campbell translated Claudius’ poem, reshaping it as the 3 verse hymn ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’.
We thank thee, then, O Father
For all things bright and good,
The seed-time and the harvest
Our life, our health, our food.
No gifts have we to offer
For all thy love imparts,
But that which thou desirest
Our humble, thankful hearts.
I love this ‘Godspell’ version. It joyfully celebrates the creator God… Christians throughout the world will celebrate today as first Sunday in Advent. Advent is a time of reflection on the God, whose creation is always with us, becoming Immanuel – God with us.
Many churches today will have ‘hope’ as the theme. We pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to God the provider. I have hope in the loving God who provides ‘my life, my health, my food’.
In Advent, preparing for Christmas, we reflect on gifts given in love. Claudius says: ‘All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. James says: ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above…’ We have ‘no gifts to offer’ but we bring ‘our humble, thankful hearts.’
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heav’n above
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all his love.