398

Sing to the Lord of Harvest

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

For the source of the harvest, God’s children are called to look to God who with his powerful hand upholds all things, even “...leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 27). As a response for the harvest, God’s people are called to give him thanks.
 

The fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer also expresses this dependence on God as provider (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 50, Question and Answer 125).

Additional Prayers

Author of all beauty, source of all wonder,
you make the mountains sing for joy and the trees clap their hands with glee.
Inspire us to join with all creation in jubilant praise and thanksgiving
through our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom and through whom all things have their being. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN
Key
A♭ Major
Meter
7.6.7.6 D

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

This tune is rounded barform (AABA') and its melodic variations in the fourth line can challenge a congregation. It would be wise, therefore, to alert the congregation to the change in the melody before they attempt to sing it. A verbal reminder followed by a stanza played through as an introduction should eliminate their uncertainty. A tempo marking of ♩=60 provides the spark the melody requires to be sung in four-measure phrases. The organ registration needs to be bright, and the hymn should be played with a light touch.
 
Liturgically this hymn may be used in any service celebrating harvest or Thanksgiving. You might consider using it as a congregational response to the reading of Psalm 65, perhaps read from Psalms Now (Concordia). The third stanza, with its emphasis on offering our gifts and our lives for kingdom service, marks the hymn as a hymn of dedication.
 
Healy Willan's arrangement, published by Concordia, is available in many different editions: SATB (98-2013), SSA (98-1450), SAB (98-1451), and Junior-Senior Combined Choirs (98-1454). The accompaniment, while scored for organ, is also arranged for brass ensemble (97-4501 through 97-4507). I recommend the combined choir edition. While the Junior Choir part is very challenging for a children's choir, it could easily be sung by the women of the adult choir as an added first soprano line. A trumpeter could also play this part as a descant on the concluding stanza. Augsburg has published a SATB anthem by Robert Wetzler incorporating 4 stanzas of the hymn (11-1901). Organists may wish to use the accompaniment of this anthem as a variation from the hymnal harmonization. S. Drummond Wolff has written a concertato for mixed choir, 2 trumpets, organ and congregation (Concordia 98-2137). Stanza 2, set for choir and trumpet, will take advance preparation, but is well worth the effort. Again, organists should note the possibilities for varying their congregational accompaniments using these settings by Wolff.
 
The range of the melody of this hymn is very accessible to children. Its light and free-flowing character can be communicated well by the quality of children's voices, and they will enjoy singing it. While the text may seem too "wordy" for young children, I would recommend its use by a Junior Choir. Included here is a piano intonation that could serve either as an introduction to congregational singing or as an accompaniment for a children's "anthem," with the opening eight measures serving as the introduction and interludes between stanzas.
 
Enjoy the sparkle of this hymn as you gratefully express your love and praise in worship! 
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 24)
— Norma de Waal Malefyt

Hymn Story/Background

In simple, vivid language derived from biblical images in the second half of Psalm 65, this text thanks the Lord for the harvest (st. 1-2) and offers to God the harvest of our lives (st. 3). Written by John S. B. Monsell in four stanzas, this text was published in Monsell's Hymns of Love and Praise in 1866.
 
This tune was originally a love song composed in 1575 by Johann Steurlein as a setting of "Mit Lieb bin ich umfangen."
WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN gets its name from its original use as a setting for Martin Behm's hymn text that began with those words in 1581; text and tune were published together in Gregor Gunderreitter's David's Himlische Harpffen. The Steurlein tune was later set to Monsell's text in W. Garrett Horder's Worship Song in 1905 and popularized through the 1954 anthem by Healey Willan.
 
The tune is a rounded bar form (AABA) whose melodic variation in the fourth line sometimes confuses congregations. Use bright organ tone on that line to support the tune, but use a lighter touch on other lines. The tune can be sung in harmony by agile voices, but congregations may prefer to sing in unison.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (b. St. Colomb's, Londonderry, Ireland, 1811; d. Guilford, Surrey, England, 1875) was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and served as a chaplain and rector of several churches in Ireland after his ordination in 1835. Transferred to England in 1853, he became rector of Egham in Surrey and was rector of St. Nicholas Church in Guilford from 1870 until his death (caused by a construction accident at his church). A prolific poet, Monsell published his verse in eleven volumes. His three hundred hymns, many celebrating the seasons of the church year, were issued in collections such as Hymns and Miscellaneous Poems (1837), Spiritual Songs (1857), Hymns of Love and Praise (1863), and The Parish Hymnal (1873).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Johann Steurlein (b. Schmalkalden, Thuringia, Germany, 1546; d. Meiningen, Germany, 1613) studied law at the University of Wittenberg. From 1569 to 1589 he lived in Wasungen near Meiningen, where he served as town clerk as well as cantor and organist in the Lutheran church. From 1589 until his death he lived in Meiningen, where at various times he served as notary public, mayor, and secretary to the Elector of Saxony. A gifted poet and musician, Steurlein rhymed both the Old and New Testaments in German. A number of his hymn tunes and harmonizations were published in Geistliche Lieder (1575) and Sieben und Zwantzig Neue Geistliche Gesenge (1588).
— Bert Polman
General Settings
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