1 My Shepherd, you supply my need,
most holy is your name;
in pastures fresh you make me feed,
beside the living stream.
You bring my wand'ring spirit back.
when I forsake your ways;
you lead me, for your mercy's sake,
in paths of truth and grace.
2 When through the shades of death I walk,
your presence is my stay;
one word of your supporting breath
drives all my fears away.
Your hand in sight of all my foes,
does still my table spread;
my cup with Blessings overflows,
your oil anoints my head.
3 Your sure provisions gracious God
attend me all my days;
oh, may your house be my abode,
and all my work be praise.
Here would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger, nor a guest,
but like a child at home.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 2006
|First Line:||My shepherd will supply my need|
|Title:||My Shepherd Will Supply My Need|
|Author:||Isaac Watts (1719)|
|Liturgical Use:||Songs of Response|
Psalm 23 remains the most well-loved and often recited psalm, and Isaac Watts' powerful paraphrase, coupled with the peaceful yet strong American folk tune, make this hymn a moving rendition of that psalm. Watts’ interpretation of the last line of psalm, “and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” gives a new understanding to the original psalm: “No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” Watts gives us a concrete image of dwelling – a child, knowing he or she is safe and secure, and in a place of love and comfort – to help us understand what it is we hope for. The same peace we find in the pasture and by the stream, we find in the house of the LORD, to which our Shepherd is leading us day by day.
One of Isaac Watts’ less frequently used hymns, this lilting rendition of Psalm 23 evokes a sense of peace and calm – an expression of trust in God’s provision. Written for the 1719 collection, The Psalms of David Imitated, this hymn has endured as a moving paraphrase of the beloved psalm. The original consisted of six stanzas, but in today’s modern version each stanza consists of two of the original. There are almost no textual changes – in some hymnals, the first line reads, “My shepherd will supply my need, the Lord God is his name” rather than “Jehovah is his name.” Either title is fitting.
The tune accompanying this hymn in almost every case is RESIGNATION, an American folk melody that first appeared in Southern Harmony in 1835. In most hymnals the tune is in the key of C. The hymn became popular in a choral setting by the American composer Virgil Thomson, and today remains a favorite choral piece - the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for example, performs a beautiful, soft rendition.
The hymn can also be sung quite easily by a congregation, usually accompanied by piano, but it is possible to use guitar as well – I would suggest light finger picking. Note that the hymn rushes through the last bar of each phrase without giving much time for a breath - rather than add an extra beat and creating an awkward rhythm, try adding an extra measure and filling the space with the accompaniment. This gives the added bonus of making the hymn even more lilting and peaceful.
This hymn can be sung throughout the year at any point in a worship service as a declaration of trust and comfort. It can be particularly powerful after a profession of faith or baptism, during a funeral, or after an intercessory prayer.
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org