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 (1771–1854)
National Portrait Gallery


Words: James Mont­go­me­ry, 1832.

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

Isaac Smith (1734–1805)
National Portrait Gallery



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 an­gel reap­ers shall des­cend,
And Heav’n cry, Har­vest Home.