We Plow (or Plough) the Fields, and Scatter
Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) was a newspaper man in Germany. The son of a Lutheran pastor, he found his faith slipping away after rubbing elbows with some of the leading philosophers of the day, including Goethe. However, a serious illness caused him to rethink his values and to rekindle his faith.
Claudius set out to write a poem rather than a hymn. The poem depicted friends coming to a home to partake in a feast. It depicted God as the one whose generous providence made it possible for those people to enjoy that festive gathering.
A British English teacher, Jane Campbell (1817-1878), translated Claudius’ poem, reshaping it as a hymn.
The hymn celebrates God’s role in providing the food and other good gifts that sustain us. It says what, while we sow and scatter the seed, God is the one who feeds and waters the seed so that it might end up as the daily bread on our table.
The hymn offers God thanks for “all things bright and good, the seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food.” It then asks, “Accept the gifts we offer for all your love imparts, with what we know you long for: our humble, thankful hearts.”
Copyright, 2015, Richard Niell Donovan