O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock (Psalm 80)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The references to the Lord as our shepherd are numerous in Scripture, such as Psalm 23, Psalm 77:20, Isaiah 40:11, and Christ’s discourse in John 10.
In stanza 3, the reference to a vine calls to mind Jesus’ discourse in John 15 (“I am the vine…you are the branches”), and also Hosea 10:1.
The repeated reference in each stanza to the “radiance of your face” reminds us of the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6:24-27.  But we also think of many references that refer to the turning of God’s face because of our sinfulness: see Isaiah 54:8, 57:17, 59:2 and 64:7. See also Micah 3:4.

Additional Prayers

Shepherd of your flock, restore your wayward people;
lead us again to green pastures and renew us beside the waters of comfort.
Because of your faithful care we worship and praise your holy name. Amen.

Tune Information

F Major or modal

Hymn Story/Background

The author, Michael Morgan, writes: The text is my original setting for Psalm 80 in the Psalter for Christian Worship. The Psalter for Christian Worship (1999; revised, 2010) was written for my congregation at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta as a means of reclaiming the Reformed tradition of singing metrical Psalms in our worship.
The refrain asks God to restore to us the radiance of his face, and to reveal the gift of redeeming grace.
Because of the reference in the refrain to the “gift of God’s redeeming grace,” Martin Tel suggested we set it to the tune, St. Louis, to which we traditionally sing the text, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” 
— Michael Morgan

This combination of text and tune, first published in Psalms for All Seasons (2012), is apt, since Psalm 80 is traditionally an Advent psalm, especially with the repeated prayer “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (verses 3, 7, and 19).  Also, the word “Bethlehem” means “house of bread,” and the references to Shepherd and lambs bring to mind the announcement of the angels to the shepherds when Christ was born.  
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Michael Morgan (b. 1948) is a church musician, Psalm scholar, and collector of English Bibles and Psalters from Atlanta, Georgia. After almost 40 years, he now serves as Organist Emeritus for Atlanta’s historic Central Presbyterian Church, and as Seminary Musician at Columbia Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Florida State University and Atlanta University, and did post-graduate study with composer Richard Purvis in San Francisco. He has played recitals, worship services, and master classes across the U. S., and in England, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. He is author of the Psalter for Christian Worship , and a regular contributor in the field of psalmody (most recently to the Reformed collections Psalms for All Seasons and Lift Up Your Hearts, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God).
— Michael Morgan

Composer Information

Lewis Redner (b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 15, 1831; d. Atlantic City, New Jersey, August 29, 1908) falls into a class of composers known for a single work associated with Christmas, a single work so popular as to eclipse the fame of its creator. Like Katherine K. Davis and John Henry Hopkins, Jr., composers of, respectively, "The Little Drummer Boy" and We Three Kings of Orient Are," Redner is viewed as a largely marginal figure in American music, despite the popularity of his Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Many will assert, of course, that although Redner wrote other music—largely forgotten fare—he was obviously not an outstanding composer and thus deserves his lesser status. Perhaps so. The apparently modest Redner himself would probably not have objected to such an assessment, as he was an organist first and composer second. Redner's lone hit, however, will undoubtedly keep his name from falling into total obscurity, as well as continue to serve as inspiration to other lesser composers.
Relatively little is known about his life: it seems he was a talented keyboard player in his youth, and eventually began playing the organ for services in the Episcopal Church.
Redner's primary occupation in his adult years, however, was not musician but real estate agent. On the side, he was chief organist at four churches during his career. The most enduring and important of these posts was at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, where he served for 19 years.
It was during his stint there, in 1868, that Redner wrote his famous tune, which turned out to be the product of a last-minute scramble. The rector of Holy Trinity, Rev. Phillips Brooks, had written a poem for children about his then-recent Middle Eastern trip to Bethlehem and asked Redner to compose a tune for it for that year's Christmas service. Redner apparently stumbled in his initial efforts, but finally penned the famous melody on Christmas Eve. Incidentally, the tune to the famous carol is generally known as St. Louis. ("O Little Town of Bethlehem" is sung in the U.K. to the tune Forest Green in an adaptation by Ralph Vaughan Williams.)
Redner also worked with the church's Sunday school program and seems to have devoted much of his life to religious worship in general. He was never married. 
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.