Hymn for Lent (Day 32): My Shepherd will supply my need

Today is the feast of St. Cuthbert. One of the appointed psalms is the twenty-third. There are any number of fine metrical settings of this psalm. If you sing along, I don’t recommend singing the tetragrammaton.

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719

Here’s the lovely recording of the choristers of the National Cathedral singing this as an anthem. You just have to get past Peter Jennings at the beginning.

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. Bryan Owen says:

    Speaking as a Church calendar geek, today is actually the 28th day of Lent. Sundays don’t count, as they continue to be feast days of the resurrection (and thus, each Sunday is a mini-Easter) even in the midst of the Lenten season. I note that if you do count Sundays as part of Lent, then there are 46 days in Lent instead of 40.

  2. Kevin says:

    Lovely – works quite well as an anthem.

    I did initially misread your last sentence as: “You just have to get past Peter Jensen at the beginning.”

    That would be asking a lot.

  3. For some reason I don’t mind “Jehovah” so much as other, more “modern” versions like that found in the BCP or the Jerusalem Bible.

  4. Ethan Gafford says:

    Why are we not singing the Tetragrammaton precisely? Are we concerned that Talmudic rabbis will show up and turn us into piles of bone with their laser eyes, or is it something else?

  5. Scott Gunn says:

    Bryan, I was wondering when someone would ask me about this.

    You are of course correct. And yet if you ask anyone tomorrow at church, they’ll say “it’s Lent” not “It’s a Sunday in Lent”. After all, if it’s not Lent, why use purple or Lenten array?

    The Lenten season has, as you well know, shifted in its length over the centuries. We’ve settled on this Frankenstein setup which we claim to be 40 days but which manifestly isn’t.

    In any case, I’m just numbering the days because I wanted the titles to be shorter than “Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent” etc. Numbers will vanish altogether once Holy Week starts.

    Anyway, I’m glad someone noticed that and that there are others who care enough about liturgy to have opinions on these matters.


  6. Scott Gunn says:

    Ethan, there are a few reasons why I do not favor pronouncing the tetragrammaton. First, it upholds a very ancient practice of honoring the sacred Name of God. Second, the use of this Name is deeply offensive to many Jews, and there’s no good reason to do that. Even Rome has repented of its practice of permitting the Name to be uttered:



  7. Ethan Gafford says:

    Okay, that’s reasonable, and I have a good Orthodox Jewish friend (who tells me stories about Talmudic rabbis turning people into piles of bones with their laser eyes, and gives me 6-foot long glow in the dark rosaries blessed at Golgotha,) who taught me this as well. I just found it curious that a priest in a church that writes the Name into its prayerbook for pronunciation was advising against it, but I can easily agree that we might as well not say it (much as I can easily agree about the Filioque.)

%d bloggers like this: