Hymns: The Lord’s My Shepherd (Townend)

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23 is probably among the best-known Bible passages. And it’s easy to see why. It’s beautiful, it’s evocative, it’s reassuring.

I will admit, Year Abroad is not going as well as I hoped. I won’t go into detail here, but it’s fair to say I’m struggling. But I have managed to gain more discipline in terms of my Bible reading. Making sure I set aside time every day, and making sure I pray beforehand.

I’m also listening to more music – including more hymns and worship songs. And that music included one of my absolute favourite songs, which somehow up until now I’d forgotten.

There are many beautiful musical settings of Psalm 23. But the one I’m talking about here is Stuart Townend’s version. I love the beauty and simplicity of the music. It’s got a very simple verse-chorus structure, with two voices in the chorus. And it’s probably the chorus which is what I particularly love about it. The two repeated lines:

And I will trust in You alone (I will trust, I will trust in You)

The Psalm reminds us that God is our shepherd, caring for his sheep, protecting them. I love how the image of sheep and shepherds is such a recurring theme in the Bible, with Jesus saying in John 10 “I am the good shepherd”. In fact, he says it twice. First, referring to the sacrificial nature of shepherding – laying down His life for His sheep. Second, referring to the how a shepherd knows his sheep and sheep know their shepherd – in the same we, he knows us and we know him. And both of these things – Jesus’ sacrifice and our relationship with Him – encourage me to trust in Him. Although I will admit that quite often I struggle a lot with this.

In any case the call to trust in this song challenges me. Will I trust God? Really? I know I have to, even when it’s difficult. Especially when it’s difficult.

I always saw this song, and this Psalm, as gentle and reassuring. When I’m finding things more difficult, though, it becomes more challenging. And perhaps more meaningful.

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