Please God, Prepare a Fruitful Place

Vincent Van Gogh, “The Sower”

Spiritual Sunday

William Cowper has a lovely version of the parable of the sower and the seed, today’s lectionary reading. Cowper wrestled with crippling depression, which makes his final George Herbert-like plea especially moving: he asks God to make his heart, which he experiences too often as stony, to be receptive to divine grace.

The Sower

By William Cowper

Ye sons of earth prepare the plough,
Break up your fallow ground;
The sower is gone forth to sow,
And scatter blessings round.

The seed that finds a stony soil
Shoots forth a hasty blade;
But ill repays the sower’s toil,
Soon wither’d, scorch’d, and dead.

The thorny ground is sure to balk
All hopes of harvest there;
We find a tall and sickly stalk,
But not the fruitful ear.

The beaten path and highway side,
Receive the trust in vain;
The watchful birds the spoil divide,
And pick up all the grain.

But where the Lord of grace and power
Has bless’d the happy field,
How plenteous is the golden store
The deep-wrought furrows yield!

Father of mercies, we have need
Of thy preparing grace;
Let the same Hand that give me seed
Provide a fruitful place!

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