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Ploughshares and First Fruits: A year of festivals for the rural church, by Chris Thorpe

31 December 2020

CHRIS THORPE’s Ploughshares and First Fruits: A year of festivals for the rural church (Canterbury Press, £16.99 (£15.30); 978-1-78622-290-9) starts with Plough Sunday (the first after the Twelfth Day) and makes use of the hymn “O Christ who holds the open gate”, extracted from Masefield’s once popular long poem The Everlasting Mercy. He suggests special services for other festivals with rural traditions — such as Rogation, Lammas, and Harvest; but also offers ideas for Candlemas (lantern festival), Mothering Sunday, Easter (“Harrowing and Hoping”), All Souls and All Saints (“Rockets and Sparklers”), oddly in that order; and Advent, together with services inspired by George Herbert, St Chad, lambing, Julian of Norwich, St Swithin, scarecrows, St Francis, and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. There is a spring prayer walk and a midsummer celebration of the abundance of the hedgerows. Readings, reflections, and prayers are given in full, and music is suggested. The author is a parish priest in rural Shropshire. GP

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