Lilac Ridge farm
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Field Master Marten van Heuven
Good afternoon, and welcome to the blessing of the Green Mountain Hounds.
What does it mean when we impart or receive a blessing? At civic events, we ask for God's blessing upon our country. In church, we bless God, and each other, even as we ask for divine blessing. When someone sneezes, we say "Bless you." Last year I suggested that we think of the blessing of the hounds as an act of thanksgiving.
The term blessing has a long history. Its original meaning, in Old English, derived from the word "bloadsan", which is to mark, or make holy, with blood. When the Greek term eulogize came to be translated into the Latin "benedicere," the term blessing also came to mean to praise. In a non-religious sense, a blessing means to confer happiness, and also to guard, to keep and to protect. Hymn 637 of the Episcopal hymnal includes the invocation "I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless," which in the hunt field might give comfort to a rider with an unruly horse.
However we define it, in the world of fox hunting the term blessing expresses our gratefulness to the hounds and our appreciation for their key role in our sport. We want to wish them well.
While the hounds are the central element of this ceremony, it has become customary to extend the blessing to t participants in the hunt and to all those who make the hunt possible. We are especially grateful to our huntsman, Kate Selby and to the many members who help her with the hounds in all seasons.
With these thoughts in mind, let us now proceed to the blessing:
We thank Thee for the beautiful fields and forests in which we hunt.
We ask Thy blessing of those who allow us to hunt on their land.
Bless those who ride the hunt - the staff and those who follow the hounds in the field. Keep them from harm to life and limb.
Bless the horses who faithfully carry their riders
And, finally, bless
And may all who participate in this hunt today return refreshed and renewed, in body and in spirit.