Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is probably the most used of all the psalms. It is short but says much; and what it says is nothing if not quieting and comforting. The psalm is light enough for any number of pastorally-themed greeting cards, bookmarks, and devotional materials, but grave enough for invariable use at funerals.

Interestingly, Psalm 23 is almost never used in a metrical form. People read and recite the prose translations as if they were sufficient.  The phrases are so well known, especially in the King James version, and they roll so well off the tongue, that there is hardly a need to metricize anything.

But a few metrical versions do exist. The following has to be among the most beautiful. It was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral to the tune “Dominus regit me.” Personally, I prefer the lovely Irish melody “St. Columba.”

*       *       *       *       *

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

~ Henry Baker, Hymns Ancient and Modern (1868)


About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love traditional poetry.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Hymns, Psalms and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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