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Shepherd Me, O God

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 23 is a song of confidence that proclaims one of the central truths in all of Scripture: in the midst of all trouble, we can remain hopeful and without fear because God, the Good Shepherd, accompanies us, leads us, defends us, provides for us.
 
Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

No hope is stronger than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: we “…belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…because I belong to him, Christ by His Holy Spirit assures me of eternal life...”
 
The basic perspective of hope is expressed in Belgic Confession, Article 37 “…the Lord will make them (us) possess a glory such as the human heart could never imagine. So we look forward to that day (of Christ’s return) with longing in order to enjoy fully the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
 
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 15, Question and Answer 42 clarifies what may be misunderstood when it says that even though Christ died for us, we still have to die, but “our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.” Additionally, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 17, Question and Answer 45 explains that Christ’s resurrection “is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.”
 
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 22, Questions and Answers 57 and 58 speak reassurances about the actual event of dying: “Not only will my soul be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head, but also my very flesh will be raised by the power of Christ, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body,” and “even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58).
 

Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 56 summarizes our hope by testifying, “We long for that day when our bodies are raised, the Lord wipes away our tears, and we dwell forever in the presence of God. We will take our place in the new creation, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, and the Lord will be our light. Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

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Shepherd Me, O God

Additional Prayers

Jesus, loving shepherd, we hear your voice,
and we know the price you paid because of your love for us.
Help us to move beyond hearing and knowing
to accepting the life you offer us and committing ourselves to serving others,
giving you all honor, glory, and praise. Amen.
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Shepherd Me, O God

Tune Information

Name
SHEPHERD ME, O GOD
Key
f minor
Meter
irregular

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

The first refrain is one of the best known and loved songs by Marty Haugen (also available as an anthem, with the entire psalm text, from GIA Publications, Inc.). The haunting refrain should be sung legato, softly, meditatively, and with some flexibility in tempo, singing at first more firmly and then more slowly for the final alternate setting. Consider accompanying with organ or with guitar, melody instrument on melody, and cello on the bass line. The bass line raised two octaves would also make a good descant for another instrument. If you choose to continue playing underneath the reading of the psalm, alternate between Fm and Db. 
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Shepherd Me, O God

Hymn Story/Background

Of all of Marty Haugen’s many songs, this setting of Psalm 23 has probably reached the farthest around the world and is translated into many languages. He wrote it in 1985 on commission for a Roman Catholic parish in New Jersey, with a refrain for congregation and verses for a cantor; it was published by GIA Publications, Inc. in 1986 in that format. But since then many congregations have learned and love to sing the entire setting of this beloved psalm.
— Emily Brink

Author and Composer Information

Marty Haugen (b. 1950), is a prolific liturgical composer with many songs included in hymnals across the liturgical spectrum of North American hymnals and beyond, with many songs translated into different languages. He was raised in the American Lutheran Church, received a BA in psychology from Luther College, yet found his first position as a church musician in a Roman Catholic parish at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing profound liturgical and musical changes after Vatican II. Finding a vocation in that parish to provide accessible songs for worship, he continued to compose and to study, receiving an MA in pastoral studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. A number of liturgical settings were prepared for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and more than 400 of his compositions are available from several publishers, especially GIA Publications, who also produced some 30 recordings of his songs. He is composer-in-residence at Mayflower Community Congregational Church in Minneapolis and continues to compose and travel to speak and teach at worship events around the world.
— Emily Brink