Originally a folk melody for the ballad The Ploughboy’s Dream, the tune Forest Green made its first hymnal appearance when English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams used it in The English Hymnal (1906) with the text O Little Town of Bethlehem.
But in 1960, Frank von Christierson borrowed the tune for his hymn text As Men of Old Their First Fruits Brought – and published it the following year in the Hymn Society of America booklet Ten New Stewardship Hymns – giving us a marvelous hymn celebrating generosity.
As those of old their firstfruits brought
of vineyard, flock, and field
to God, the giver of all good,
the source of bounteous yield.
Since “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), my piano arrangement of As Men of Old Their First-Fruits Brought – or as some hymnals today call it, As Saints of Old – bounces with exuberance to celebrate abundant harvests and the joy of generosity. Short and sweet, it’s fun to play and perfect for services with stewardship, harvest, or thanksgiving themes.
Many other hymn texts use the tune Forest Green so it’s great tune for nearly every season of the year. Here are just a few:
- Bless’d Be the God of Israel Who Comes to Set Us Free (Advent)
- 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 🙂 )