O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock (Psalm 80)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The references to the Lord as our shepherd are numerous in Scripture, such as Psalm 23, Psalm 77:20, Isaiah 40:11, and Christ’s discourse in John 10.

In stanza 3, the reference to a vine calls to mind Jesus’ discourse in John 15 (“I am the vine…you are the branches”), and also Hosea 10:1.

The repeated reference in each stanza to the “radiance of your face” reminds us of the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6:24-27.  But we also think of many references that refer to the turning of God’s face because of our sinfulness: see Isaiah 54:8, 57:17, 59:2 and 64:7. See also Micah 3:4.


O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock (Psalm 80)

Call to Worship

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
As we enter this season of Advent,
may the love of God the Father, and the grace of Jesus the Son,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with us all.
[Reformed Worship 57:4]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember our iniquity forever.
Restore us, we pray, through the coming of our Lord Jesus,
in whom we place our hope and trust. Amen.
—based on Isaiah 64:1-9, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God of salvation, in Christ you have done great things—
our hearts are filled with joy.
By your power you lifted us out of the wasteland of sin
and brought us with joy and laughter into your kingdom.
Salvation is your gift to us.
But we confess that often we try to replace your gift with our own efforts.
We try to complete what is already perfect;
we try to add to what is already full;
we try to earn what we already have.
Forgive us for our foolishness.
Help us to focus on your grace.
Help us to live grateful lives in return.
For Jesus’ sake alone, Amen.
—based on Psalm 126
[Reformed Worship 34:20]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Shepherd of your flock, restore your wayward people;
lead us again to green pastures and renew us beside the waters of comfort.
Because of your faithful care we worship and praise your holy name. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

The Lord is glorious and exalted.
Lord, shine in our hearts and lives.
God’s people are often in distress and sorrow.
Lord, show your might and deliver us from evil.
We sometimes do not feel the Lord’s presence.
O Lord, let your face again shine on us.
The Lord was the shepherd of his people Israel.
Lord, lead us in our way and guide us in our walk.
In this Advent season we stand on tiptoe—
Immanuel, invade our lives. Amen.
—based on Psalm 80:1-7
[Reformed Worship 9:23]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

We are called as pilgrim followers of Jesus Christ
to steer our lives carefully in this world,
lest we lose our way and mar our leader’s name.
We give thanks for generations of saints
who walked the way before us.
Their strong profession and bold obedience
are gifts to us, a tradition to guide us.
As we seek to follow our Lord in the time and place marked out for us,
we depend on God’s help alone:
Keep us, we pray, from the disobedient perils
of cementing ourselves in the past
and of chasing after fads in the present.
Help us to take heart from our faith’s ancestors,
to live intentionally for our faith’s heirs,
and to delight and honor you. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock (Psalm 80)

Tune Information

F Major


Musical Suggestion

The association of the tune ST. LOUIS with the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has connections that may be used to good effect. (Bethlehem in Hebrew means “house of bread.”) It would be effective to sing this setting during Advent, though it may be sung in any season.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock (Psalm 80)

Hymn Story/Background

The author, Michael Morgan, writes: The text is my original setting for Psalm 80 in the Psalter for Christian Worship. The Psalter for Christian Worship (1999; revised, 2010) was written for my congregation at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta as a means of reclaiming the Reformed tradition of singing metrical Psalms in our worship.
The refrain asks God to restore to us the radiance of his face, and to reveal the gift of redeeming grace.
Because of the reference in the refrain to the “gift of God’s redeeming grace,” Martin Tel suggested we set it to the tune, St. Louis, to which we traditionally sing the text, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” 
— Michael Morgan

This combination of text and tune, first published in Psalms for All Seasons (2012), is apt, since Psalm 80 is traditionally an Advent psalm, especially with the repeated prayer “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (verses 3, 7, and 19).  Also, the word “Bethlehem” means “house of bread,” and the references to Shepherd and lambs bring to mind the announcement of the angels to the shepherds when Christ was born.  
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Michael Morgan (b. 1948) is a church musician, Psalm scholar, and collector of English Bibles and Psalters from Atlanta, Georgia. After almost 40 years, he now serves as Organist Emeritus for Atlanta’s historic Central Presbyterian Church, and as Seminary Musician at Columbia Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Florida State University and Atlanta University, and did post-graduate study with composer Richard Purvis in San Francisco. He has played recitals, worship services, and master classes across the U. S., and in England, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. He is author of the Psalter for Christian Worship , and a regular contributor in the field of psalmody (most recently to the Reformed collections Psalms for All Seasons and Lift Up Your Hearts, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God).
— Michael Morgan

Composer Information

Lewis Redner (b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 15, 1831; d. Atlantic City, New Jersey, August 29, 1908) falls into a class of composers known for a single work associated with Christmas, a single work so popular as to eclipse the fame of its creator. Like Katherine K. Davis and John Henry Hopkins, Jr., composers of, respectively, "The Little Drummer Boy" and We Three Kings of Orient Are," Redner is viewed as a largely marginal figure in American music, despite the popularity of his Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Many will assert, of course, that although Redner wrote other music—largely forgotten fare—he was obviously not an outstanding composer and thus deserves his lesser status. Perhaps so. The apparently modest Redner himself would probably not have objected to such an assessment, as he was an organist first and composer second. Redner's lone hit, however, will undoubtedly keep his name from falling into total obscurity, as well as continue to serve as inspiration to other lesser composers.
Relatively little is known about his life: it seems he was a talented keyboard player in his youth, and eventually began playing the organ for services in the Episcopal Church.
Redner's primary occupation in his adult years, however, was not musician but real estate agent. On the side, he was chief organist at four churches during his career. The most enduring and important of these posts was at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, where he served for 19 years.
It was during his stint there, in 1868, that Redner wrote his famous tune, which turned out to be the product of a last-minute scramble. The rector of Holy Trinity, Rev. Phillips Brooks, had written a poem for children about his then-recent Middle Eastern trip to Bethlehem and asked Redner to compose a tune for it for that year's Christmas service. Redner apparently stumbled in his initial efforts, but finally penned the famous melody on Christmas Eve. Incidentally, the tune to the famous carol is generally known as St. Louis. ("O Little Town of Bethlehem" is sung in the U.K. to the tune Forest Green in an adaptation by Ralph Vaughan Williams.)
Redner also worked with the church's Sunday school program and seems to have devoted much of his life to religious worship in general. He was never married. 
— All Music.com (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/lewis-redner-mn0001649579/biography)
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