through the valley

Aug 19, 2020

The psalm from today’s liturgy is perhaps the best known of all of the 150 psalms. It is a text known by name, number and popular melody: The Lord’s My Shepherd, Psalm 23, often sung to the melody Crimond.

Chances are the moment you hear the words of the psalm a melody comes to mind and you’ll find yourself singing this 2500-year-old prayer.

Set to one of its many popular melodies, this twenty-third psalm is a regular classic at funerals, partly because people of all faiths and of none can easily join in, but also because grieving people know their need to be gently carried through the “valley of darkness and death” to ‘God’s dwelling place forevermore’.

But more often the words of this prayer give me direction and hope in the midst of daily demands. When I pray with this psalm I can see that it is not about death at all, but about life both now and eternally.

That’s the kind of good news that I need every day.

An Invitation

  • You’ll probably be surprised by how well you know the words of this psalm because you have sung it so often. Take a moment now to recall even a part of the melody and see what words come to mind.  I have copied the popular hymn lyrics below to jog your memory, or you might prefer the psalter Grail translation at this link.
  • Two or three words or a phrase from the psalm come to mind for a reason…perhaps Jesus might be inviting you to stay with a phrase as a mantra for the day. 
  • If you want to listen in a spare moment or on the way to work here are a few musical settings of the psalm:  Crimond,  Brother James’ Air,  Anglican Chant   &  The King of Love.

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.

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.

Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For thou art with me; and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnishèd
In presence of my foes;
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 forever more
My dwelling place shall be.



  1. Hi Fr John
    Not sure how I missed your message yesterday but what a pleasant surprise it was this morning to find two reflections from you. I did miss these when they stopped last time so thank you for starting these up again. I particularly liked your ideas yesterday on how to organize our day into a daily retreat. I am going to use this outline today. Thank you and God bless.

  2. My soul he doth restore again, And again and again. Thank you, John, forthis reminder.. I came into the Church on the Day of the Good Shepherd and this psalm lives with me.

  3. It’s a wonderful treat to have FFF reflections to wake to again . Thank You Father John and Blessings to you

  4. Very uplifting to have FFF again. Couldn’t get the link to work for initials.

  5. Hi Father John
    I too, am delighted to see your daily reflections return. An oasis of calm at the start of my day. Similarly today’s psalm is such a comfort and accessible to us at all times. Really beautiful words!
    Go well and thank you.

  6. What a wonderful way to start the day thank you Fr.


  7. I will not be afraid. for He is here to comfort me. Thank you Fr John for your companionshio in this journey. Praying for your safety & good health.
    In Christ,

  8. Thankyou Fr John.I can fell a new spring in my step an spirit.

  9. Hi John, it was such a lovely surprise to see two emails from you this morning. Thank you for your support on our journey, you are so gifted!! God bless you

  10. Hi John, it was such a lovely surprise to see two emails from you this morning. Thank you for your support on our journey, you are so gifted!! God bless you

  11. I can only reiterate what all readers have said regarding the return surprise of FFF. I especially love Boniwells psalm 23. Its like reading the Gospels two or three times. You find something pertinent every time. Same with trying a different melody with this psalm 23. Try Boniwell!!

  12. Welcome back, Fr John, from me too – it is a wonderful opportunity to link with the FFF community again especially during these uncertain times. Thank you so much for sharing your gifts again. I’m afraid I too had trouble with the link to add my initials.

    • Good to hear pearls of wisdom in times which are frightening so many.I think having Faith replaces the fear.

  13. I can only agree with all the other comments! Great to see FFF back. “He leadeth me the quiet waters by” speaks to me today.
    Incidentally, I couldn’t get on to the page with the initials either.

  14. Like Rose, I couldn`t get the link to work. So good to have you back, Fr. John


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