“Air of the Irish”
INVITATION and PSALM
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
May these words dwell in my heart, and I in your house, O Lord, my shepherd.
These comforting words have been with most of us since childhood. They reassure us over and over through the years, reminding us that our Lord is always watching over us. As our Lenten journey moves ever closer to Christ’s suffering and crucifixion for us and for our sins, we read these words anew, and rededicate ourselves to his authority. May we be with Jesus through his suffering and death as he is always with us – ever near, ever blessed.
Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) was the vicar of Monkland Priory Church in Herefordshire, England, and a guiding influence of the innovative hymnal, Hymns Ancient & Modern (1861), an important collection that broadened the spectrum of English hymnody during the second half of the nineteenth century.
It was for the second edition of this hymnal in 1868 that Baker authored a beautiful paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm – “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (UMH #138). Baker also pulled ideas about Jesus as our Shepherd from other places in the bible, and a good description of these details can be found here: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-the-king-of-love-my-shepherd-is
John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) composed the tune, DOMINUS REGIT ME – by all accounts a prefect pairing. However, when composer Ralph Vaughan Williams wanted to use the original tune in the 1906 English Hymnal, he was refused the rights to it. So, he set the text to his own arrangement of an old Irish air that was named ST. COLUMBIA, and this is how it appears in our hymnal today. Several Irish melodies made their way into English and American hymnody well over a century ago, and this is certainly one of the finest.
Lead me. Guide me.
Feed my aching heart.
Quench my thirsty soul.
Stay with me through all my days just as the shepherd tends his sheep.
Your loving kindness will never fail me, and I will praise you, and only you, forever.
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries