Bonie Was the Lammas Moon

Corn Rigs (Or Rigs ‘o Barley)

It was upon a Lammas night
When the corn rigs were bonnie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light
I held awa’ to Annie.
The time flew by wi’ tentless heed
‘Til ‘tween the late and early,
Wi’ small persuasion she agreed
To see me thro’ the barley.

Corn Rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonny
I’ll ne’eer forget that Lammas night
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.

Robert Burns

Like Rogationtide, Lammas Day is an agricultural festival celebrated in the church on August first, or Walpurgis Day. It is a day for celebrating the harvest. Lammas or Loaf Mass in English is the feast of first fruits on the Christian calendar. Newly harvested grains are baked in to Lùnastal bread, and the crops are blessed along with the livestock and fields. Along with Michaelmas, and Martinmas it’s the first feast day in a series of harvest festivals that have been adopted into the Christian calendar, but it’s also the one that retains the most of its pagan traditions. The Sunday following Lammas Day is called Lammas Sunday.

Traditionally the grains would have been gathered in, and the first bread whould have been baked and offered as a sacrafice to the dieing god, the god of the harvest, but as Christianity encountered the Celts the bread, which may have been baked in the form of a man, or decorated with pagan symbols, was decorated with a cross, and brought to the church to be blessed and shared.

Supposedly baking bread is a simple thing, but for some reason I can never get my bread to rise the way I want it, and I always have the fear that when I cut in to it the beautiful crust will be hiding a ball of glue. This year I found a truly simple soda bread recipe for my Lùnastal loaf:

1 pound of flower
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch salt
1 tbl vinegar
1/2 pint milk
Combine dry ingrediants in a mixing bowl.
Add vinegar to milk.
Add milk/vinegar mixture to dry ingrediants in thirds.
Divide dough in two.
Form in to round loaves, score the tops with a cross.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

I played a bit with this recpie by measuring my flower in handfuls of wheat, rye, oat, and barley. I used a cider vinegar, and reduced the milk and substituted apple cider. I also used an egg yolk wash on them for a shiny crust. They looked like they, be worthy of at least a third place ribbon at the county fair.

It strikes me that the Lammas festival is still with us in the county, and state fair. The harvests are brought in and presented for judging, not that anyone at church judges the bred that’s brought in.

My partner will be going to the Dutchess County Fair later this month, where we’re sure to see bread along with pies, and preserves. Every year we look forward to walking through the livestock, (I especially like the sheep and cows: Swiss Brown are my Favorite.) The poultry pavillion, (My partner likes the Sumatran Black, whereas I prefer the Silver Seabright chickens.) and the 4H milkshakes. It’s also fun to wander in to the retail barns and see all of the products that we just can’t live without: the Shamwow, home spas, a Culligan water system, etc…

For ore on agricultural traditions, Earth Day and the Christian Church check out :

Why Christians Don’t Celebrate Earth Day

Beating the Bounds

But before you go, here’s another Robert Burns song that mentions Lammas and the full text of Corn Rigs:

Duncan Grey
 
Weary fa’ you, Duncan Gray!
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
Wae gae by you, Duncan Gray!
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
When a’ the lave gae to their play,
Then I maun sit the lee-lang day,
And jeeg the cradle wi my tae,
And a’ for the girdin o’t!
 
Bonie was the lammas moon,
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
Glow’rin a’the hills, aboon,
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
The girdin brak, the beast cam down,
I tint my curch and baith my shoon,
And, Duncan, ye’re an unco loun-
Wae on the bad girdin o’t!
 
But, Duncan, gin ye’ll keep your aith,
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
I’se bless you wi my hindmost breath,
Ha, ha, the girdin o’t!
Duncan, gin ye’ll keep your aith,
The beast again can bear us baith,
And auld Mess John will mend the skaith,
And clout the bad girdin o’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corn Rigs
 
It was upon a Lammas night
When the corn rigs were bonnie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light
I held awa’ to Annie.
The time flew by wi’ tentless heed
‘Til ‘tween the late and early,
Wi’ small persuasion she agreed
To see me thro’ the barley.
 
Corn Rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonny
I’ll ne’eer forget that Lammas night
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.
 
The sky was blue, the wind was still,
The moon was shining clearly.
I set her down wi’ right good will
Amang the rigs o’ barley.
I kept her heart, was a’ my sin.
I loved her most sincerely.
I kissed her o’er and o’er again
Amang the rigs o’ barley.
 
Corn Rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonny
I’ll ne’eer forget that Lammas night
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.
 
I locked her in my fond embrace.
Her heart was beatin’ rarely.
My blessing on that happy place
Amang the rigs o’ barley.
But by the moon and stars so bright
That shone that hour so clearly,
She aye shall bless that happy night
Amang the rigs of barley.
 
Corn Rigs and barley rigs
Corn rigs are bonny
I’ll ne’eer forget that Lammas night
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.
 
I hae been blythe wi’ comrades dear
I hae been merry drinking.
I hae been joyful gath’rin’ gear
I hae been happy thinking.
But a’ the pleasures e’er I saw
Tho’ three times doubled fairly,
That happy night was worth them a’
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.
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