Harvest Psalms

It’s the first day of November.  We still have a few weeks to go until Thanksgiving, which is, more or less, usually seen as the “official” celebration of harvest being over.  Yet many readers have been busy with the work of harvest for some time now, and for some the work is still ongoing and foremost in their minds right now.  And so we present a list of harvest psalms, appropriate for meditation and singing at this time of year.

Being divinely inspired, all psalms are appropriate for singing at all times, but these are some psalms that are particularly centered on or appropriate for a time of harvest.  Of course, harvest time is also a time to meditate on thanksgiving and also the beauties and glories of creation, but this list will consist of psalms especially suited to harvest-time.  I’m sure I’ve missed some, so please feel free to mention any that I’ve missed in the comments below.

Note: I have taken the psalm selections from the 1959/1976 blue Psalter Hymnal that is commonly used in most URCNA churches.  However, it would be easy to find corresponding psalm versifications in any psalter or hymnal using the psalm reference.

  • #41 “The Earth and the Fulness with Which It is Stored” (Psalm 24) recognizes God as the owner of all the bounties of His creation.
  • #92 “The Mighty God, Jehovah, Speaks” (Psalm 50) famously reminds prideful, boasting man that the LORD owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.”
  • #115 “Thy Might Sets Fast the Mountains” (Psalm 65) explicitly celebrates both seedtime and harvest, culminating in the third verse: “The year with good Thou crownest, the earth Thy mercy fills/the wilderness is fruitful, and joyful are the hills;/with corn the vales are covered, the flocks in pastures graze;/all nature joins in singing a joyful song of praise.”  Similarly #116.
  • #117 “Before Thee, Lord, a People Waits” (Psalm 65) reminds us that “On Thy sustaining arm depend, to earth and sea’s remotest end, all men in every age.”
  • #121 “O God, to Us Show Mercy” (Psalm 67) praises God for the “rich abundance” of fruit that the earth brings.
  • #163 “Lord, Thou Has Greatly Blessed Our Land” (Psalm 85) rejoices in harvests that “crown our land.”
  • #174 and 175, both based on Psalm 90, include the prayer for God to “establish the work of our hands,” a fitting prayer for harvest time.
  • #180 “It is Good to Sing Thy Praises” (Psalm 92) compares the righteous man, blessed of God, to “fruitful trees and ever verdant.”  A lot of psalms do that, and I won’t include every one, but this is one of my favorites, so I put it in the list.
  • #184 “Now with Joyful Exultation” (Psalm 95) praises God for feeding us “as His flock in pastures fair.”  Similarly #185 and 186.
  • #195 “All People that on Earth Do Dwell” (Psalm 100) is of course the classic psalm to sing on Thanksgiving Day and during harvest celebrations.
  • #206-208 (Psalm 104) celebrate God’s control over the seasons and nature.  “The seasons are fixed by wisdom divine.”  I will never forget the day that a farmer friend of mine, at a party to celebrate the successful completion of sowing all his fields, emotionally read and commented Psalm 104.  It is as appropriate for harvest as for seedtime.
  • #268 “When Zion in Her Low Estate” (Psalm 126) uses the imagery of “the sower, bearing precious seed/may weep as in his toil he grieves/but he shall come again with joy/in harvest time with golden sheaves” to celebrate the rejuvenating and quickening salvation of God.
  • #270 “Blest the Man that Fears Jehovah” (Psalm 128) celebrates the blessedness of a life lived in the fear of the LORD.  One part of that is to “eat the fruit of the labor of your hands” (verse 2, ESV).
  • #284 “Give Thanks to God for Good is He” (Psalm 136) thanks God for many things, including supplying all our physical needs.
  • #296 “Thrice Blest Be Jehovah” (Psalm 144) prays that “our garners be brimming,/our flocks in the field,/increasing by thousands,/then thousandfold yield.”  Similarly #297.
  • #303 “O Sing Ye Hallelujah” (Psalm 147) praises God for His control over weather, and for His attentive care for all His creatures.
  • The imagery of harvest is often used biblically in connection with Christ’s Second Coming to judge the nations and gather His people home.  For that reason, psalms like 87, 97, 98, etc., are also fruitful meditation during this time of the year.

I hope this list is helpful for your own devotions or for singing with friends and family in this traditional time of celebrating the completion of harvest.

Questions for comment: what are some of your favorite “harvest psalms?”  Have I missed any?

-JDO

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