Harvest Festival – a popular festival

Harvest Festival Songs of Praise last Sunday evening in Ely Cathedral was an uplifting and impressive act of worship. The Cathedral had been wonderfully decorated for the occasion. The range of autumnal colours was most impressive. The worship blended traditional and modern. The event was not nostalgic. It appealed to both young and old. Harvest gifts were presented in style.

Harvest Festival remains a popular event in the calendar of many churches and schools. People clearly understand what it is about – giving thanks for food and creation. No other church festival does this so clearly. The obvious connection between presenting gifts and the Eucharist means that this festival can encourage Eucharistic worship and Eucharistic living.

It is therefore unfortunate if unimaginative clergy pour scorn on this popular festival. Harvest is a festival to which people can be easily invited and thus become a special service of welcome or evangelism. I suspect more people will make the effort to come to church for Harvest than will for, say, the Feast of St Philip and St James.

At a time when the Church of England is looking at the connection between its worship and the culture of the people it may be appropriate for a fresh look at harvest. The liturgical books of the Church of England could produce more provision and ideas for observing this festival.

Ely Cathedral are to be congratulated for their hard work and example in working with, rather than against, this popular English festival.

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One Response to “Harvest Festival – a popular festival”

  1. sidney Says:

    hi just saw your comment – you do know that we have been inSussex Street in cambridge for the last 6 years – most of them happy ones – do find us before whatever happens happens!

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