1 We plow the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God’s almighty hand.
God sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes, and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above.
We thank you, God, we thank you, God, for all your love.
2 You only are the Maker
of all things near and far.
You paint the wayside flower,
you light the evening star.
The winds and waves obey you,
by you the birds are fed;
much more to us, your children,
you give our daily bread. [Refrain]
3 We thank you, then, Creator,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time, and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
for all your love imparts,
and what you most would welcome:
our humble, thankful hearts. [Refrain]
Source: Voices Together #747
|First Line:||We plough the fields, and scatter|
|German Title:||Wir pflügen und wir streuen|
|Author:||Matthias Claudius (1782)|
|Translator:||Jane M. Campbell|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52 D with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||All good gifts around us|
|Notes:||Spanish translation: "Aramos nuestros campos" by Ernesto Barocio|
st. 1 = Ps. 145:16, Ezek. 34:26-27
st. 2 = Ps. 104, Acts 14:17
st. 3 = Gen. 8:22
Matthias Claudius (b. Reinfeld, Holstein, Germany, 1740; d. Hamburg, Germany, 1815) grew up in the home of a Lutheran pastor and studied briefly for the ministry at the University of Jena. During his twenties and thirties he seems to have forsaken the faith, influenced by the rationalistic thought of the time. He became seriously ill in 1777, and this crisis was instrumental in returning him to his childhood faith. He worked briefly as commissioner of agriculture and manufacture of Hesse-Darmstadt (1776-1777) and in 1778 was appointed an auditor of the Schleswig-Holstein Bank in Altona. Most of his life was spent as a journalist, editor, and writer on general culture, much of it as editor of Der Wansbecker Bote (The Wansbeck Messenger).
Claudius also wrote many devotional poems, of which this is the only one in common use as hymn text. Originally a poem in seventeen stanzas with a refrain that began "Im Anfang war's auf Erden," the poem was the peasants' song in Claudius's sketch "Paul Erdmann's Feast," published in Asinus omnia sua secum portans (1782). It was popularized in various nineteenth-century German hymnals where it appeared with fewer stanzas, often beginning with Claudius's third stanza "Wir pflugen und wir streuen.”
The English text is based on Jane Montgomery-Campbell's free translation of his original stanzas 3, 5, 7,9, 10, and 13, first published in Charles S. Bere's A Garland of Songs (1861). Campbell (b. Paddington, London, England, 1817; d. Bovey Tracey, South Devon, England, 1878) was proficient in both music and German. She translated a number of German hymns into English, which were first published in Charles Bere's Garland of Songs, or an English Liederkranz (1862) and his Children's Chorale Book (1869). The writer of A Handbook for Singers (undated), Campbell also taught singing to the children in her parish school, St. James in Paddington, where her father was rector.
The text affirms that, while we need to plow the land and sow the seed, it is God who provides the increase; he sends the rain and the sunshine to produce a harvest. God also sustains his creation, for "all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above." Thus praise bursts from our "humble, thankful hearts."
Harvest thanksgiving; as a hymn of creation; the final stanza as an offertory hymn.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook