Something to listen to while you read. Sheet music available at Sheet Music Plus.
Looking for the perfect hymn tune to have while stranded on a deserted island?
Forest Green, the tune for As Men of Old Their First Fruits Brought, might be a good choice thanks to its many text options that span the church year:
|Title of Hymn Using Forest Green’s Tune||Occasion/Theme|
|As Men of Old Their First Fruits Brought (in modern hymnals As Those of Old Their First Fruits Brought or As Saints of Old Their First Fruits Brought)||Autumn/Thanksgiving|
|Bless’d Be the God of Israel Who Comes to Set Us Free and Canticle of Zachary (Now Bless the God of Israel)||Advent|
|O Little Town of Bethlehem||Christmas|
|Make Room within My Heart, O God||Lent|
|With Wavering Palms and Shouts of Praise||Palm/Passion Sunday|
|I Sing the Almighty Power of God||Easter|
|O Spirit of the Living God, Thou Light and Fire Divine||Pentecost|
|All Beautiful the March of Days||Creation|
|We Built a Sanctuary Sure||Communion|
|Eternal God, Whose Power Upholds||Mission|
|The Summer Days Are Come Again||Lazy Summer Sundays 🙂|
(And no, I didn’t make up that last hymn. It really exists!)
Originally an English folk tune used for the ballad The Ploughboy’s Dream, Forest Green made its first appearance as a hymn when English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) set it with the text O Little Town of Bethlehem in The English Hymnal (1906). In 1960, Frank von Christierson penned the stewardship text As Men of Old Their First Fruits Brought for the tune and published it the following year in the Hymn Society of America booklet Ten New Stewardship Hymns.
Born near Helsinki, Finland, Frank von Christierson (1900-1996) immigrated to America with his family in 1905. He studied at Stanford University (BA, Psychology, 1923) and San Francisco Theological Seminary (BD, 1929) before becoming an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian church in 1929. During his tenure as pastor to several California churches, he wrote 140 hymns – a number of them were published in his Make a Joyful Noise (1987) – and was honored in 1982 as a Fellow in The Hymn Society. On his motivation for writing the text As Men of Old Their First Fruits Brought he stated:
“As pastor of two new churches, with small memberships and great financial needs, I have been deeply concerned with stewardship, also because I am deeply concerned about missions and outreach of the church to “all the world,” [and] also because stewardship is a very important phase of the Christian life. No one is deeply Christian until he is a “good steward.”
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday but it’s also a season when many churches celebrate the blessings of the autumn harvest. The text by von Christierson appropriately echos both of these themes with its message of stewardship (“so we today our first fruits bring: the wealth of this good land“) in a worldwide context (“a world in need now summons us to labor, love, and give“) while giving of ourselves in service (“help us to give ourselves each day until life’s work is done“).1
1 Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot include the entire hymn text in this post. If you’re interested in seeing (legally) the full text of this hymn, click here.