Hymn of the Week: April 21
by William "Pat" Partridge,
Canon Precentor Organist & Choirmaster,
Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis
April 25: Good Shepherd Sunday
Hymn 645: The King of love my shepherd is
Sir Henry Williams Baker's paraphrase of Psalm 23 remains virtually unchanged, maintaining the form in which it first appeared in the Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1868), the monumental collection for which the author was the energizing force.
Following the lead of Luther and Watts, Baker introduces New Testament Christianity into the psalm version: the cup becomes the eucharistic chalice, the cross takes its place with the rod and staff, and the pastoral caretaker assumes the role of the "Good Shepherd" in St. John's gospel (John 10:11-18).
Among the hymns that are common to the singing tradition of Anglicans around the world, this paraphrase of Psalm 23 is undoubtedly one of the most beloved. It is further distinguished in that it has attracted to itself two tunes that are equally well-loved and international in their usage. St. Columba, an Irish melody from the early 1800's, is of particular beauty and seems to be the most popular.
Listen to this version, posted on YouTube: