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May 3, 2020: Chorale Prelude on St. Columba and “The king of love my shepherd is”

Chorale Prelude on St. Columba by Robin Milford and Hymn 645: “The king of love my shepherd is”

(If you do not see the music link icons, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for May 3, 2020.)

This week, in honor of Good Shepherd Sunday, I chose to prepare an organ piece that uses the old Irish tune ST. COLUMBA, which I’m sure most of us will recognize as the tune that goes with the hymn “The King of love my shepherd is.”  Robin Milford (1903-1959), who wrote this organ piece, was an English composer, primarily of orchestral and choir music, who studied with two giants of English 20th century music, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, the latter we are very used to as Episcopalians because so many of his tunes and harmonizations of tunes can be found in our hymnal.  Milford’s organ piece has the tune in the pedal part played in long notes—listen along and see if you can you can pick it out.


I also prepared this week what I would play for the accompaniment for Hymn 645, “The King of love my shepherd is.” if we sang it on a normal Sunday morning.  One thing you might not know about this hymn: the paraphrase of the psalm was written by Henry Williams Baker, a Church of England priest, in the year 1868.  Baker wrote and labored over a great many of the words to quite a number of our best-loved hymns.  In 1861, his hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern was first published.  This hymnal went through many revisions, and, later in the nineteenth century, it became the most used hymnal of the Anglican church.

Here are the words to Hymn 645 as well as my sound file to listen to as you read (or sing) along.  Thanks and have a nice week, everybody!

1 The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.

2 Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.

3 Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me;
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.

4 In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.

5 Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!

6 And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.