Bread of heaven?

This year, owing to the hot, dry weather, harvest has been well underway for some time.  But the celebration of Lammas – on or around 1 August – is usually timed to coincide with the gathering in of the first crops of the season.  The name comes from the Old English – hláfmæsse – bread (hláf) for the mass.  It is thought that a newly baked loaf, made with the first wheat of the harvest, was presented within the mass on that day.  In other words, Lammas is an early harvest festival – early in the sense that it comes right at the start of the harvest.  And early in that our usual harvest festival in the autumn is not such an ancient tradition, but rather a nineteenth century twist on a secular harvest home celebration, while Lammas dates back to Anglo-Saxon England if not before.

Whatever the origins, it’s a good occasion for thanksgiving (of which we can never do enough) and to honour the farmers in our rural churches and wider communities.

The vicar’s husband has made a Lammas loaf at the vicarage, for a Lammas Holy Communion service on Sunday in one of the churches in the team.  The idea being that the loaf, made from locally grown wheat, will be used as the eucharistic bread. He started with some wheat kindly provided by a parishoner … and a coffee grinder, the nearest we had to a flour mill.


… then added our locally grown and ground flour to some of the regular stuff…


… left the dough to rise


loaf4And here’s end result… all ready to bless and break and share on Sunday…

And yes, we will be singing Guide me O thou Great Redeemer…

If you’re in search of some appropriate liturgy, the Church of England’s Times and Seasons material is always a good first start, along with what’s available at Germinate: the Arthur Rank Centre.  Also worth a look is John Birch’s Faith and Worship page that tunes into the possible Celtic roots of the festival.  Or if you want to know a bit more about the history, read this post from A Clerk of Oxford.



2 thoughts on “Bread of heaven?

  1. The Lammas Loaf looks wonderful! Great to read of your Lammas preparations.
    I’m looking forward to leading a United Benefice Lammas Service at St Mary’s Church, Buttsbury on Sunday 29th July at 3.30pm. All are welcome to give thanks for the first wheat in this beautiful church that stands as a Christian beacon amidst harvest activity.
    For some last minute Lammas resources, readers might also like to check out our diocesan ‘Agricultural Festivals: Resources for churches, youth groups and schools’ available to download on the rural pages of the Chelmsford Diocese website.
    Posted with my prayers for Lammas celebrations throughout the diocese (and rain!).


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