Rogation Sunday and Rogationtide


Rogationtide – My Book of the Church's Year
From My Book of the Church’s Year, by Enid M. Chadwick. London: Mowbrays (no date).

So, what is Rogation Sunday, and Rogationtide (a.k.a., the Rogation Days), anyway…? The lovely Anglican blog, “Full Homely Divinity,” explains:

“The week of the Sixth Sunday of Easter [note: for those of us using the traditional calendar, the Fifth Sunday after Easter] is busy with processions and outdoor activities. The week begins with prayers and celebrations that focus on stewardship of creation and culminates in the great (but lately much-neglected) Feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven on the fortieth day of the Paschal Feast.

“The Rogation Days, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day, originated in Vienne, France (not Vienna, Austria), in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people. Archbishop Mamertus proclaimed a fast and ordered that special litanies and prayers be said as the population processed around their fields, asking God’s protection and blessing on the crops that were just beginning to sprout.

“The Latin word rogare means ‘to ask,’ thus these were ‘rogation’ processions. In an agricultural society, closely connected with the soil and highly vulnerable to the uncertainties of nature, this was an idea that took root quickly, and the custom spread around Europe and over to Britain. The Sunday before the Rogation Days came to be considered a part of Rogationtide (or ‘Rogantide’) and was known as Rogation Sunday.”

Thus, the blessing of crops, and from that, a more general sense of exercising good, due, and proper stewardship of Creation, is an important part of this day, and this Tide.

Furthermore, there developed in England the concept of “the beating of the bounds,” in which the Rogation Procession made its way around the bounds of the parish, reaffirming a sense of place, and instructing the young in the geography of home, and significant locations, sites, and features within those bounds. Because those boundaries were sometimes transgressed, it also provided an opportunity to reconcile with one’s erring neighbors.

Another excellent blog, “The Homely Hours,” notes,

“George Herbert gave the following reasons to observe the Rogation Days, that are still practical for us today: 1) [asking] a blessing of God for the fruits of the field; 2) Justice in the preservation of the bounds; 3) Charitie, in living, walking and neighbourliy accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if they be any; 4) Mercie, in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution of largess which at that time is or oght be made.

The author of that blog, Amanda, further recounts, “I remember the first time I participated in our church’s Rogation Day ‘Beating of the Bounds.’ I was deeply impressed by the way that the Rogation Days took seriously the life of the body in the world.”

So should we all!

Author: The Anglophilic Anglican

I am an ordained Anglican clergyman, published writer, former op-ed columnist, and experienced outdoor and informal educator. I am also a traditionalist: religiously, philosophically, politically, and socially. I seek to do my bit to promote and restore the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in a world which has too-often lost touch with all three, and to help re-weave the connections between God, Nature, and humankind which our techno-industrial civilization has strained and broken.

2 thoughts on “Rogation Sunday and Rogationtide”

  1. I was asking my priest about the creation care movement within the Episcopal Church and if he was considering doing anything along those lines this September. He is new to the parish. He referred need to rogation days saying why reinvent the wheel. Do you see the two concepts as the same?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes and no! (“Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both yes and no…” *grin*)

      I will agree that one of the weaknesses of Christianity, historically, is that it has done a poor job of teaching care and concern for this good Earth which God has given us.

      There is a persistent Gnostic tendency within Christianity, which tends to devalue physical / sensory / material Creation, which to my mind is both shortsighted and insulting to the good God who gave it to us! So I applaud moves toward redressing that balance – but I also think we have to be careful that we do not end up straying into pantheism, if not flat-out paganism.

      I strove to maintain that balance, when I was still part of the Episcopal Church, and I have to say it is not an easy one.

      So I am inclined to agree with your priest, to the extent that we already have considerable resources to teach care and concern for our earthly environment within our own tradition, within Anglicanism and, more generally, the Christian tradition as a whole – a robust celebration of Rogation Sunday being one of those – and should be cautious about importing / borrowing traditions from without, which the contemporary Episcopal Church has a tendency to do.

      I will see if I can find, and post, some of the resources I myself have used in the past. I’m sorry, I can’t promise any particular timetable for that effort, however!

      One resource I do strongly recommend, though – and especially since you are in the Episcopal Church – is “Fully Homely Divinity,” quoted in my main post, above: a lovely blog that is both staunchly and classically Anglican, and also operates within the 1979 BCP context of the Episcopal Church. You may find it interesting, for Rogationtide and other cycles and seasons of the Church year!


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