Jesus, sower of the seed (website only)

Authors & translators:
Clapperton, Jesse
Elements of Worship:
Festivals and Seasons:
Special Sundays:
Festivals and Seasons:

parable_of_the_sower_jan_luyken_etching_bowyer_bible1 Jesus, sower of the seed, 
while on varied soils you sow,
birds and pebble, thorn and weed,
work to hinder what would grow.
Yet the tiny seeds of truth
sown in richest soils take root,
hearts prepared and tilled in faith,
yielding holy harvest fruit. 

2 Jesus, kernel lain in earth, 
lonely buried seed who dies,
but to life has sprung to birth
at the springtime’s glad surprise,
we, as kernels who would die
that fresh greenery would live, 
dormant in our earth-grave lie
till we break the soil and thrive.  

3 Jesus, first-fruits from the dead, 
small yet first of seeds to sprout,
over earth your vine has spread,
thriving through our truth-less drought.
Christ, the first and finest gift
earth or heaven could receive, 
our own lives to you we lift,
first and finest gifts we give.  

4 Jesus, bread of finest wheat, 
plucked from ripened, golden sheaves:
you invite us now to eat,
Love’s own nutrients to receive. 
Be for us our daily bread,
manna falling ev’ry dawn, 
that our spirits may be fed
with the bread of life, God’s Son. 

5 Jesus, Lord of harvest, come, 
for the world is fully ripe;
reap, and bring your harvests home
in our day of full-grown hope. 
When you gather in your crop,
we who pray and yearn and long,
“Come, Lord, come!” shall see our hope
and shall sing our harvest song.  

Words: Jesse Clapperton

Suggested tunes: Aberystwyth (StF 355i); St George's, Windsor (StF 123) – or, for something in a less formal, more contemporary style, try Leach by Nicola Morrison (StF 646)

Metre: 77.77.D Iambic

Ideas for use 

The range of Jesse Clapperton’s hymn, built on the rich imagery of sowing and reaping, means that it will be applicable on many different occasions in the Church year: the season of harvest is an obvious location for it, as is any occasion on which a service sets out to unpack Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed. 

At the same time, the focus of specific verses mean that the text will be useful for a service of communion (v.4), the season of Easter or within the Methodist Covenant service (v.2), or as part of wider reflections on commitment and discipleship (v.3). 

Further information 

This is a hymn that draws widely on biblical imagery. Jesse notes references and allusions to several biblical passages, not least Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed, with which the hymn opens: 

Matthew 9: 38
Matthew 13: 1-12; Mark 4: 1-20; Luke 8: 4-15 (parable of the sower)
John 6: 25-59
John 12: 20-50
1 Corinthians 15: 20-22

wheat-green-1Some of these allusions quote the biblical language directly (e.g. “Jesus, first-fruits from the dead” echoes St Paul’s assertions in 1 Corinthians). At the same time, the text is rooted in metaphors with which most people will be familiar, just as Jesus’ teaching was. For that very reason, it’s not surprising that some of the hymn’s lines are reminiscent of phrases from the hymns of other writers (Now the green blade rises, StF 306; Omer Westendorf’s fine hymn, “You satisfy the hungry heart / With gift of finest wheat”; as well as some familiar harvest hymns, StF 122-130).

However, Jesse’s hymn takes these familiar ideas on their own distinct journey, providing room in each verse for the imagination to breathe and to reflect on each new image. He traces a clear development from sower through kernel and first-fruits to “bread of finest wheat”, drawing the whole to a close in a celebration of the triumphant divine harvest when God and creation become as one once more. At the same time, the first four verses offer an overview of the life and ‘after-life’ of Jesus (teaching – death – resurrection – remembrance through sharing of Communion); and with it, the key Pauline reminder (v.2) that followers of Christ need to be prepared to die to self in order to live rich and fruitful lives in his image (e.g. Galatians 2: 20; Romans 6: 3-11)

we, as kernels who would die
that fresh greenery would live, 
dormant in our earth-grave lie
till we break the soil and thrive. 

jesse-clapperton-2Jesse Clapperton

Jesse lives in rural northern Ontario, Canada. He began writing what he calls "hymnic poetry" at the beginning of the Covid pandemic "as a way to escape what was happening around me", only to discover that the process "ended up being an enriching experience that involved much self-learning".

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