The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23): How Poets, Mystics, and Hymnodists Have Delved Its Deeper Meanings

By Morgan, Michael | The Hymn, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23): How Poets, Mystics, and Hymnodists Have Delved Its Deeper Meanings


Morgan, Michael, The Hymn


The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23): How Poets, Mystics, and Hymnodists Have Delved Its Deeper Meanings by Samuel J. Rogai. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006. 163 pp. ISBN: 0-7734-5480-4. U. S. $99.95.

Perhaps no other passage of Scripture has undergone as many translations, paraphrases, amended and expanded versions, and hymn adaptations as the Twenty-third Psalm, and this annotated anthology by scholar Samuel J. Rogai is a virtual "Psalm festival" for this beloved text.

Rogai, former Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts at Illinois Valley Community College, brings together 11 prose versions of Psalm 23 from English Bibles published during the second half of the twentieth century, along with 42 poetic and metrical paraphrases from the sixteenth century to the present. Such a collection of translations would be a valuable resource in itself, but Dr. Rogai has included a variety of linguistic, poetical, historical, and theological perspectives to each of the versions, making this a valuable commentary.

Of particular interest in the area of congregational song are the scarce early texts (Sternhold and Hopkins, the early Scottish Psalters, Tate and Brady, the Bay Psalm Book, among others) which illustrate the evolution of the English language in terms of poetic expression, and the growing shift from literal paraphrase to more free expressions of the Psalmist's sentiments. Also included are examples from Watts, Wesley, Doddridge, Rowe, Crashaw, Sidney, Herbert, and Montgomery (from the early era), to more contemporary renderings by Carl Daw, Jr. …

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