Scripture Verse

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6


James Montgomery

Words: James Mont­gom­e­ry, 1832.

Music: Sil­ver Street Is­aac Smith, cir­ca 1770 (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Smith (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?


As my friend Mr. Row­land Hodg­son and my­self were tra­vel­ing be­tween Glou­ces­ter and Tewkes­bu­ry, I ob­served from my side of the car­riage, a field which had been re­cent­ly ploughed, and ap­par­ent­ly har­rowed, for the sur­face lay not in fur­rows; but up­on it were sev­er­al wo­men and girls in rows, one be­hind an­oth­er, lat­er­al­ly, as though they were en­gaged in par­al­lel lines, but did not keep pace with each oth­er in their work.

What the work was I could not guess: it was ev­i­dent­ly not weed­ing, for the ground was per­fect­ly clear and fresh turned up. It seemed to be plant­ing, all stoop­ing down and ap­pear­ing to put some­thing in­to the earth, but they were too far off for me to dis­ting­uish what.

I there­fore des­cribed the scene and their mode of ac­tion to my friend, who, be­ing blind, could not help out the im­per­fec­tion of my eyes by the aid of his. He im­me­di­ate­ly re­plied, I dare say it is dib­bling, a mode of hus­ban­dry by which two-thirds of the grain ne­ces­sa­ry in the or­din­a­ry way of sow­ing an acre is saved: holes are picked in lines along the field, and in­to each of these two or three grains is drop­ped.

I have of­ten heard of dril­ling or dib­bling, but I ne­ver saw it be­fore, I ex­claimed; and I must say if this be the lat­ter, dib­bling is quite in char­ac­ter with ev­ery­thing else in an age of po­li­ti­cal econ­o­my…But for my part, give me broad­cast sow­ing, scat­ter­ing the seed on the right hand and on the left, in lib­er­al hand­fuls; this dib­bling is ve­ry un­po­et­i­cal and un­pic­tu­resque; there is nei­ther grace of mo­tion or at­ti­tude in it.…

I fell im­me­di­ate­ly in­to a mus­ing fit, and mor­al­ised most mag­ni­fi­cently up­on all kinds of hus­band­ry (though I knew lit­tle or no­thing of any, but so much the bet­ter, per­haps, for my pur­pose), mak­ing out that each was ex­cel­lent in its way, and best in its place.…

By de­grees my thoughts su­bsid­ed into verse, and I found them run­ning lines, like fur­rows, along the field of my im­ag­in­a­tion: and in the course of the two next stag­es the had al­ready as­sumed the form of the fol­low­ing stan­zas, which I wrote as soon as we reached Broms­grove.

This is the whole his­to­ry and mys­tery of which I fear you have heard so ro­ma­ntic an account.

Julian, p. 1069


Sow in the morn thy seed,
At eve hold not thy hand;
To doubt and fear give thou no heed,
Broadcast it o’er the land.

Thou know’st not which may thrive,
The late or early sown;
God keeps His precious seed alive,
When and wherever thrown.

And duly shall appear,
In verdure, beauty, strength,
The tender blade, the stalk, the ear,
And the full corn at length.

Thou canst not toil in vain;
Cold, heat, and moist, and dry,
Shall foster and mature the grain
For garners in the sky.

Thence, when the glorious end,
The day of God is come,
The angels reapers shall descend,
And Heav’n cry, Harvest Home.