Psalm 23 is certainly one of the most beloved passages in all scripture. With the Lord’s Prayer, it’s really just about the only set of verses that, in a group setting, you can count on at least some people being able to recite from memory. And it just happens to be the psalm assigned for today, March 20, in the daily lectionary (which you can find on this web site under “Prayer Resources”) and for this coming Sunday, March 22. How’s that for the Spirit telling us that we need to be praying it right now?
We also need to be singing it. Did you know that our hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, has three different hymns based on Psalm 23? They are “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want,” and “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Me.” Actually there are many more floating around that didn’t make it into ELW. When I searched for Psalm 23 on Hymnary.org, I found 21 densely packed pages of hymns that had some kind of connection.
A favorite of our congregation is “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” Like the previous hymns in this series, we sang this not too long ago. I am guessing what most people love is the second half of the hymn, when we get to lift our voices to the skies: “Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus….”
The author is unknown, but what is useful to know is that it was originally written for children. It first appeared in “Hymns for the Young,” published in London in 1836. The tune also was written for this hymn and first published in 1859 in a book of Sunday school songs.
What does that tell us? That in the midst of this world of anxiety, we need to become like children. If you are trying to stay on top of all the latest news, you are probably running on empty. Make time for yourself to cast your worries aside. Open your heart. Trust in God. Hear Jesus say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." From the last phrase of each stanza: Trust that we belong to Jesus; that Jesus always hears our prayers; that he is always there for us to turn to; and that he loves us now and will always love us.
Please join your voice with those of the Sanctuary Choir of First United Methodist Church in downtown Houston. And try out the harmony! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d6XN-2NIRI
May the peace and love of Christ be with you always.