Psalm 23

Anne Timpane

By Anne Timpane, Director of Music Ministries

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want . . .

Psalm 23 is one of the best known and most beloved of all the Psalms. Even though it has been set to music countless times in a variety of compositional styles, we never fail to be moved whenever we hear those familiar words.

As children, many of us remember having to memorize the 23rd Psalm in Sunday school for that all important sticker on the progress chart. Those stickers may be long forgotten, but the words have been imprinted so deeply on our hearts that we are easily able to recall them in times of sadness, fear and anxiety, when we often have no words of our own.

In The Hymnal 1982 we find the 23rd Psalm in hymn 663, “The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want” with the hymn tune Crimond; 664, “My shepherd will supply my need” with Resignation; and 645 and 646, “The King of love my shepherd is” with St. Columba and Dominus regit me. Although each Psalm paraphrase is paired with a tune that illustrates the text in a different way, the familiarity of the words gives us the freedom to recognize the meaning and intent, whatever the setting.

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