The King of love my shepherd is – Text: Ps. 23; para. Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) / Music: John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876)
This morning’s offertory hymn, The King of love my shepherd is, was written by Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) for the 1968 appendix to Hymns Ancient & Modern. Baker attended Trinity College in Cambridge, where he graduated, B.A. 1844, M.A. 1847. In the same year he was ordained. In 1851 he was made vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire, where he remained until his death. He succeeded to the baronetcy in 1859. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number in the several dozens. The author himself must have prized The King of love my shepherd is above his other hymns: the last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were its third stanza.
Dominus Regit Me, the tune to which this hymn is set in Common Praise, is one of the better tunes by John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876). It was composed for Baker’s hymn when it appeared in 1868. The name is the Latin incipit of Psalm 23.
1 THE King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.
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 spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction, grace bestoweth:
And O 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 for ever.