161. The LORD's My Shepherd

1 The LORD's my shepherd; I'll not want.
He makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by;
he leadeth me, he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

2 My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake;
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.

3 Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
yet will I fear no ill;
for thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still;
for thou art with me, and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

4 My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

5 Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me,
and in God's house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be;
and in God's house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.

Text Information
First Line: The LORD's my shepherd; I'll not want
Title: The LORD's My Shepherd
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 86 86 86
Scripture: Psalm 23
Topic: Funerals
Source: Scottish Psalter, 1650
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: BROTHER JAMES' AIR
Harmonizer: Gordon Jacob (1934, alt.)
Composer: J. L. Macbeth Bain, c. 1840-1925
Meter: 86 86 86
Key: D Major
Copyright: Harmonization by permission of Oxford University Press


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 23:1-2
st. 2 = Ps. 23:3
st. 3 = Ps. 23:4
st. 4 = Ps. 23:5
st. 5 = Ps. 23:6

Of all metrical versions of the psalms, this versification of Psalm 23 from the 1650 Scottish Psalter is probably the best known. Though one of the best examples of a Scottish psalm in meter, the grammatical structure of the text is twisted for the sake of rhyme – the mismatch of textual and musical phrases is especially problematic in stanza 1. But the rugged strength of the verse and the powerful imagery of this psalm have endeared this Scottish versification to many believers through the centuries. For further commentary on this psalm see PHH 23.

Liturgical Use:
See PHH 23.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

BROTHER JAMES' AIR was composed by James Leith Macbeth Bain (b. Scotland, c. 1840; d. Liverpool, England, 1925), the healer, mystic, and poet known simply as Brother James. The tune was first published in his volume The great peace: being a New Year's greeting ... (1915). Born in a devout Christian home, Bain came to doubt the faith but later regained a mystical belief with the aid of the Christo Theosophic Society. He founded the Brotherhood of Healers, and he and his fellow healers often sang to their patients during healing sessions. In the latter years of his life he worked among the poor in the slums of Liverpool. He published a book on healing entitled The Brotherhood of Healers ... (1906).

This well-loved tune is in bar form (AAB) with an unusual final phrase that rises to a high tonic cadence. Ideally suited to part singing, the harmonization is adapted from the popular arrangement by Gordon Jacob (b. Norwood, near London, England, 1895; d. Saffron Walden, Essex, England, 1984) published in 1934, which was also titled "Brother James' Air."

Jacob studied at Dulwich College and the Royal College of Music and received his doctorate in music from London University in 1935. He taught composition at the Royal College of Music from 1926 to 1966 and was respected both as a fine teacher and as a composer of orchestral, chamber, and choral music and film scores. Included in his publications are Orchestral Technique (1931) and The Composer and His Art (1960).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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