Week 1: Paraphrase



Hymns as Paraphrase

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Text: Henry Williams Baker (1821–1877), 1868

Tune: Traditional Irish

  1. The mark of a good paraphrase is one that stays true to the meaning of the text, but still retains the unique voice and perspective of its author. In what ways does Baker’s text strengthen or expand on the original scripture?
    • Addition of New Testament references not explicit in the Old Testament psalm
      • Stanza 1: see John 10:28
      • Stanza 2: “living water” instead of “still waters”, referring to John 4:14 and John 7:37-39
      • Stanza 3: connection to the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7)
      • Stanzas 4-6: explicit reference to the cross, chalice, and “Good Shepherd”
      • Stanza 5: the word “unction” means “act of anointing”
        • (recall “extreme unction” is one of the sacraments of the Catholic church)
        • Together “unction grace” bridges the Old Testament practice of anointing with New Testament “grace”

He Leadeth Me

Text: Joseph H. Gilmore (1834–1918), 1862

Tune: William Bradbury (1816–1868), 1864

  1. Rather than paraphrasing the whole of Psalm 23, the text is really a simple expansion of verse 2 only. Given its simplicity, why do you think this hymn has remained so popular over the years? What is it about the text and tune that contribute to its lasting popularity?
    • Though it was written when “gospel hymns” as a genre were in their infancy, it follows a standard “gospel” formula
      • Use of repetition (plus refrains) make it easy to remember and sing
      • Focus on heaven is a common gospel hymn theme (stanza 4) — crossing the Jordan to reach the promised land is taken as a metaphor for us crossing into heaven
    • Written in the “darkest hour of the Civil War” (Gilmore’s words), it’s universally applicable to both good times and bad
    • Melody is shaped nicely for emphasis at the end of the third line, falling for the first half and then rising to its peak
      • “whate’er I do” / “where’er I be”, strengthens the pairing of the two
      • “by waters calm” / “o’er troubled sea”, lends contrast between the two
      • “e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee”, emphasizes the phrase to become a pledge, almost defiant

The God of Love My Shepherd Is

Text: George Herbert (1593–1633), 1633

Tune: Roy Hopp (1951– ), 1992

  1. Compared to Gilmore’s “scenes of deepest gloom”, Herbert’s “shady black abode” seems more cool and quiet than it does scary. Is it easier to wander away from God when you’re surrounded by trials and tribulations or when things are calm and “not that bad”?
    • From one perspective, when life is “okay”, we often forget that we still need God
      • How many people cry out to God during a crisis and promptly forget Him afterward?
      • The temptation of sin is that it “doesn’t look so bad”; the drift away from God is often slow and gradual
    • On the other hand, panic can cause us to lose sight of our priorities
      • Falling behind while we’re trying to keep up with life can just cause us to try harder and keep tighter control
      • Letting go can be one of the hardest things to do when you’re scared, but it’s necessary in order to give your life to God