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HYMNS FOR PENTECOST 7 The Parable of the Seed

Seed that in Earth is Dying Svein Elllingsen, Harald Herresthal

A seed beneath the ground Gracia Grindal Danial Charles Damon

When Seed Falls on Good Soil. Norman Olsen Fred Jackisch

The Sower. James Tissot

A seed beneath the ground

Waits patiently for sun,

Warm light to lift it toward the day

When darkness will be gone.

For as it waits below

In bondage to decay,

It hears the whole creation groan

In pain and agony.

The seed can live in hope

For what it cannot see;

The glory that will be revealed,

It waits for patiently.

Though everything seems dark

And death appears to reign,

Out of the seed new life will sprout,

And joy will come again.

Lord, I am like that seed

Whose harvest will be soon.

Make me an heir with Jesus Christ

And all that he has done.

Mere words cannot express

The glory there will be,

When we are shining like the sun

With you eternally.

Gracia Grindal


One cannot exhaust the parable of the seeds. God’s word—Jesus—is the seed. Any words we speak of him to others are like seeds sown on the ground. In order to live, we must, like the seed, die, Jesus says.

This is the secret of our faith. Death brings life. Jesus died to give us life. The old person in us has to die in order to give birth to the new, who is Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ.

These deaths are hard. The old Adam and Eve in us want to survive at all costs. The hard lesson is that until they are dead, we cannot live in the fullness we were created to live.

The Sower at Sunset. Van Gogh

The grain must be ground to make flour, the grape be crushed to make wine. We know that. Is it also true of us? How are we kneaded and broken so we can be raised up to life? We don’t have to seek the suffering, it comes to us, unbidden. It may completely crush us. And then there is no place to look but up. But many don’t know there is anything to see when they look up.

Religious thinkers are telling us there are millions of young people in our world who already feel dead and without meaning. What an opportunity we have to go to them with true life, to feed and water the dead seed and nurture it so it grows into new fruitful life. In these days of AI and other robotic threats to our humanity, many fear we have forgotten that we are human. We don’t know how to be human, partly because we don’t know we are creatures. Partly because we no longer believe we are creatures of a God who made us in his image. A current thinker, Ingolf Dalferth, makes this argument saying that as passive creatures we receive life, both our physical and our spiritual, from outside of us. And the life we receive gives us the agency to live in freedom. Christians believe we are both animal and angel--we know we are dust, and yet, we know because of Christ we are eternal.

Like the seed waiting in the ground. It cannot live in a paper package. It has to be tended. It is entirely passive. This spring my four year old grand niece and I found a little pail with dirt in it and she asked me to help her plant something in it. I had a package of seeds we could use. We took out the minuscule hard seeds from the packet and put them in the dirt, watered them and left it in the sun and sort of forgot about it, but then a few days later we found it brimming with green shoots that we needed to thin so that a few shoots could actually grow and flourish. Without being planted, without the sun and rain, they would have stayed infertile and dead on my shelf. And without our continuing to tend them, they would have choked on their own growth, or died for lack of water in our drought or been devoured by hungry birds or squirrels.

Here is the mystery of faith. If Jesus, the word, is planted in us, he will grow into something we haven’t even imagined. We know we are all thistles and thorns, or thin hard dust. And so we pray, Lord Jesus, let me be good soil. One of the old salts I know, Pastor Norman Olsen wrote a lovely hymn When Seed Falls on good soil which I have shared several times on this blog. It gets better with every reading.


All of these hymns work over the various uses of seeds in Scripture. Svein Ellingsen of Norway has written one about which you can read here. It is in the ELW in English

Norm Olsen’s hymn can be found here,

And mine, written to respond to the parable of the seed. Look out at the garden you are tending and wonder how the garden in your heart is growing. Dan's tune is perfect.


Seed that in Earth is Dying/Ellingsen

When Seed Falls on Good Soil/Olsen

Congregation and choir

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