Blessing of the plough
Sunday 13th January: 0930
Sunday 13th January is Plough Sunday and during the Parish Communion at 0930 that day, there will be the traditional ceremony of the Blessing of the plough. Even though farming techniques have changed considerably, Plough Sunday traditionally marks the start of the agricultural year. Pictured here are local farmers Quentin and Maggie Edwards with a plough that has been in the church’s possession for many years. The Celebrant will be the Revd Juliette Hulme.
Plough Sunday is an ancient ceremony, which was revived by our Victorian forebears. The origins of the festival go back to at least the middle ages, when on the Sunday after the Church had celebrated our Lord’s Epiphany a plough would be brought into church to be blessed before the first furrows of the new season would be cut and the crops sown in the ground. The following day, Plough Monday, the plough would often be taken from house to house and alms collected – since this was a time of hunger and hardship for many ploughmen and their families. Lack of sufficient generosity could result in the plough be used in a way a householder might not appreciate!
Farming practices have changed. Modern ploughs are now far too large to bring in to church. The switch to winter sown wheat means that most ploughing has been done long before January. Nevertheless Plough Sunday is a festival that can usefully be celebrated today. There are two themes readily relevant:
<> concern for farmers facing significant problems,
<> God’s concern for the world of human labour