The sixth Sunday of Easter is also known as Rogation Sunday since many of this week’s Rogation walks now normally happen on the Sunday.
Without the virus there would have been a tour of parish boundaries, known as beating the bounds, in Cambridge (Little St Mary’s), a procession through the town at Leighton Buzzard (The Wilkes Walk) and a country walk out to an agricultural college at Southwell (Southwell Minster).
Rogation comes from the Latin word rogare meaning to ask which was part of today’s gospel reading (John 16.24 as in Book of Common Prayer) and included the words ‘Ask and you will receive’.
By long tradition at this time God’s blessing is asked for on the crops to be harvested later in the year.
Rogation looks towards Lammas in August and Harvest Festival in October.
During outdoor Rogation processions pauses are made to read the Gospel and say prayers for good crops. Gospel Oak in north London is named after the now felled oak tree where the Gospel was read during beating the bounds.
Beating the bounds was important annual Southwark event in 1536 when Southwark Cathedral was known as Southwark Priory.
In recent years a procession has set out on a route which one year involved a boat trip along the parish boundary in Thames. Inland several stops are made to chalk a date on the ground or a building and say a prayer.
Chalk marks dating from 2004 can still be found on one or two sheltered walls near Shakespeare’s Globe.
This year due to lockdown The Dean of Southwark has walked the route on his own. His film can be seen here.