The Lord is my Shepherd from Psalm 23: Lyrics and meaning explained | The Sun
19th September 2022

MANY people, even those who don't regularly attend church services, will recognise the hymn The Lord is my Shepherd from the opening titles of The Vicar of Dibley.

But it far outdates Geraldine Granger and her hilarious antics as it originated from the 1600s.

Hymns, as an act of worship hold a special place in many people's hearts – whether that's because their personal faith resonates with the lyrics or because of the nostalgia of school assemblies.

That's why many choose these songs as the soundtrack to profound moments like weddings and funerals.

Indeed, the Royal Family selected this well known piece of worship to be sung at Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday September 19.

Heads of state, family and friends all gathered to mark the solemn occasion, but what do we know about the hymn they sung?

Read more about hymns

Queen funeral hymns and readings: Full list of music and words explained

Who wrote I Vow to Thee My Country? Hymn lyrics and meaning explained

What are the lyrics to The Lord is my Shepherd?

There is a more modern adaptation of this classic hymn. It was released in 1996 and involves far more acoustic guitars.

But for a state occasion, it'll be the original that is selected and those lyrics include a lot of old language, that's unfamiliar to us now.

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Here's the hymn sheet – so you can sing along.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Who wrote The Lord is my Shepherd?

The song itself was written by Francis Rous, a lawyer and scholar who was born in 1579.

Francis was from Halton in Cornwall but went to fancy university Oxford to complete his education.

He became a lawyer and the MP for Truro during the reigns of King James and Charles I.

He was appointed a member of the Westminster Assembly; of the High Commission; and of the Triers for examining and licensing candidates for the ministry – which basically means he was the Simon Cowell of vicars for a while.

He also held other appointments under Oliver Cromwell, including that of Provost of Eton College.

He died in Acton (that's the place Acton, not * in Action*) on January 7, 1659. He was buried in the Chapel of Eton College, in Oxford.

What is the meaning of the Lord is my Shepherd?

The song itself is a reworking of the words of Psalm 23 from the Bible.

It's an incredibly famous passage of the Holy text and has lent itself to many other pop culture moments.

This includes, but is not limited to, the opening line of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" which is taken from verse 4 of the Psalm.

The first line of the Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing," was a both a message of gratitude and a declaration of trust by King David for God.

It was his recognition that he could rely on God to look after him and care for him, just as a sheep relies on a Shepard to feed and care for his flock.

His statement "I lack nothing" doesn't refer to financial riches or assets (although as a king he wasn't running low) but that when he was relying on God, he was spiritually fulfilled and needed nothing more than God's love in his life.

Has The Lord Is My Shepherd been sung at other royal occasions?

The Queen's funeral was not the first royal occasion when the famous hymn was sung.

In a touching and profound gesture, the song was picked as it was also played during Queen Elizabeth's wedding to Prince Philip in 1947.

In order to mark the momentous occasion, a special descant was composed for the young royal couple.

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