This article is part of a series from our monthly newsletter written by Pastor Steve. Read more from the series by clicking the button below:
Now the Green Blade Rises
Throughout this year, I will be spending time reflecting upon various hymns. We may not think about hymns as a way that we teach and pass on the faith, but the reality is that many of us can remember hymns a lot easier than memorizing scripture.
The hymn, Now the Green Blade Rises, is an Easter hymn written by John MacLeod Campbell Crum (1872-1958) in 1928. Crum was born in Cheshire, England.
The connection of the Easter event – the rising of Jesus — is unmistakable. The simple phrase “Now the green blade rises” reminds us that Jesus is risen today just as he rose on that first Easter morning. In the third line, we find “Love” being used as a metaphor for Jesus. We are now reminded why Jesus came to the earth in the first place: “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). After speaking directly about Jesus’ death and resurrection, Crum turns to our lifetime struggles. In the fourth stanza, Crum emphasizes that no matter what we are going through, “Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again.”
While there is not much written specifically about a story behind this hymn, Crum was an Anglican priest and served various positions in England including Oxford, Windsore and Canterbury. During his time as a priest he wrote multiple books on a variety of topics including biblical books, architecture, and children’s books. He additionally had a hymn output that ranged from translating Latin text for hymns to penning children’s hymns. The only one that most of us would be familiar with is ‘Now the Green Blade Rises.
All of his interests come together in this hymn and it shows Crum’s ability to capture one’s imagination, perhaps an extension of his children’s writings. For those in the northern hemisphere who live in areas where springtime usually coincides with Easter, the image of growing plants and vegetation speaks clearly. The nature imagery of one of his children’s hymns provides insight into his writing style and the images of the natural world found in ‘Now the green blade rises.’
The other inspiration for the hymn can be found within scripture. The vivid imagery of the hymn is based on the following Bible verses:
John 12:23-24: “ 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (NRSV)
1 Corinthians 15:37-38 connects the image with the resurrection: 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (NRSV)
For me this hymn speaks to me in that as we enter into the Spring and we begin to see trees beginning to bud, the grass growing again, and flowers beginning to emerge from the ground—all these things are to remind us of the Easter story and just as we see in nature new life coming again—so it is that Jesus was buried and then rose again in three days conquering death and bring forth new life. ‘For Love is come again like wheat arising green.’