“The Jewish and Christian Scriptures give eloquent expression to the creative power and wisdom of God. It is therefore a natural instinct for worshipping communities to develop patterns of worship and prayer around the agricultural year.
In May each year the church celebrates Rogationtide- The Rogation Days (from the Latin rogare, ‘to ask’) are the three weekdays before Ascension Day. The Prayer Book Gospel for the Fifth Sunday After Easter (which precedes the Rogation Days) includes the words of Jesus, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask for in my Name, he will give it you’ – words associated with the heavenly intercession of the ascended Christ.
Originally, the Christian observance of Rogation was taken over from Graeco-Roman religion, where an annual procession invoked divine favour to protect crops against mildew. The tradition grew of using processional litanies (prayers), often around the parish boundaries, for the blessing of the land. The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with the reconciling of differences, and of charitable giving to the poor. The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ has been preserved in some communities, while others maintain the traditional use of the Litany within worship. In more recent times, the scope of Rogation has been widened to include petition for the world of work and for accountable stewardship, and prayer for local communities, whether rural or urban.
In very recent years there has been a revival of the tradition of Beating the Bounds in Pagham. In our walk together, we become more aware of the extent of our parish, pray for the residents and workplaces which we support, and also enjoy each other’s company during a picnic half-way round. This shared walk was not possible in the lockdown of 2020, so in early May Alison Blenkinsop walked most of the boundary alone. Her photos and research into the history of various significant parts of Pagham parish can be read by clicking the links below.
We hope that you will enjoy reading about the parish and that you might be encouraged to pray for the parish and its residents as you take your virtual walk beating the bounds.
You shall go out in joy and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.