One of the things I like most about being an Episcopalian is that we have hymns for “Rogation Days”. Rogation Days are days when we ask  – at least through singing a simple hymn – God’s blessing on our work as stewards of the land (and more broadly, the environment). Most in the congregation are probably not aware of Rogation Days, in general, unless they check out the church calendar or the fine print in the hymnal. (A special shout-out to our Rector, the Reverend Susan Bek, for encouraging the development of a congregational garden and intentionally keeping our garden – our small agricultural enterprise – in the thoughts and prayers of our parish’s members. We even have a gardening committee that offers a report at Vestry meetings).

On Rogation Days, we pray for good weather…and for good yields. That prayer might be offered in sung or uttered form. Today in our Prayers of the People, we asked our Creator to “Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others.” We sang a hymn, a portion of which I’ve included below, because it’s just so lovely.

The word “rogation” derives from a Latin word meaning “to ask”, but it can also be defined as meaning something akin to “litany” or “supplication”.  Rogation hymns often have the rhythm of call and response: praise and request. These days have been observed in Christianity for centuries, often with fasting and feasting.  But Rogation Days fall out of a variety of earlier (pre-Christian) customs and practices.

One ancient custom was “beating the bounds”.  In that case, a procession from the community would walk out and mark […]