The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1
Words: J. M. Orrock, in The Cluster of Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns and Sacred Poems, third edition, edited by Jesse Mercer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: William W. Woodward, 1823), number 575, alt.
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The Lord is my shepherd, my guard and my guide;
Whatever I need He will kindly provide;
E’er since I was born, it is He who has crowned
The life which He gave me with blessings all around.
While yet on the breast a poor infant I hung,
E’er time had unloosèd the strings of my tongue;
He gave me the help which I then could not ask,
Now therefore to praise Him shall be my tongue’s task.
Through tenderest years with as tender a care,
My soul, like a lamb, in His bosom He bare;
To brook He would lead me whene’er I had need,
And point out the pastures where best I might feed.
No harm could approach me, for He was my shield
From fowls of the air and beasts of the field;
The wolf to devour me did oftentimes prowl,
But God was my shepherd, and guarded my soul.
How oft in my youth did I wander astray;
But always He brought me back to the narrow way;
When lost in dark error, no path or retreat,
His word like a lantern still guided my feet.
What wondrous escapes to His kindness I owe,
When rash and unguarded, I sought my own woe!
My soul long ere now would have been in the deep
If God had not watchèd when I was asleep.
Whene’er at a distance, He sees me afraid,
He flies o’er the mountains and comes to my aid,
Then leads me back gently and bids me abide
In His flock enfolded, kept close by His side.
How safe in His keeping, how happy and free,
I always have refuge where He bids me be!
Yea, blest are the people, and happy thrice told,
Who hear the Lord’s voice, and abide in His fold.
The fountain is full, and the pasture so green,
All friendship and love, with no poison therein;
The Lord dwells among them upon His own hill,
His flock all around Him, awaiting His will.
Himself in the midst with a provident eye,
Regarding their wants and providing supply;
Abundance springs up of most nourishing food:
The flocks are all fed by their generous God.
By His voice or sign do they move or they stay:
The Lord is Himself both their leader and way;
Whate’er the condition He places them in,
It always is best, and they’re happy therein.
In hunger or thirst, or if ready to faint,
Relief in due season prevents the complaint;
The rain of His Word brings them food from the sky—
The rocks become rivers, the dust no longer dry.
From blossoming hills to the hard, barren rock,
The Lord has made all for the good of His flock;
The flock in return doth their great Lord confess,
In plenty their joy, and their hope in distress,
We see in their welfare His glory displayed;
And they find their bliss in obedience repaid.
With cheerful regard they attend to His ways:
Attention in prayer, and happiness in praise.
The Lord is my shepherd: What then shall I fear?
No danger shall fright me while He is so near;
For I know His judgments, when me they have tried,
Will bring me and seat me down close by His side.
The Lord He is good, and His mercy is sure,
He only afflicts me in order to cure;
The Lord, I will praise Him, as long as I’ve breath,
Content all my days, and resigned at my death.