The God of Love My Shepherd Is

George Herbert (1593-1633) is well known for his collection of 167 poems published under the title of The Temple soon after his death in 1633. The popularity of his poem collection grew and by 1709 it surpassed 13 editions (Source: George Herbert).

J.R. Watson, the author of The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study, states:

Herbert’s influence upon later writers was pervasive, engaging the admiration of Puritans and High-Churchmen alike. Richard Baxter thought ‘He speaks to God like one that really believeth in God, and whose business in this world is the most with God.’  His poems were quarried again and again for material for hymns: in 1697 a volume appeared entitled Select Hymns Taken out of Mr. Herbert’s Temple & Turned into Common Metre, and in 1737 John Wesley re-versified some of his poems for his first hymn-book, A Collection of Psalms ad Hymns…”

Below is one of Herbert’s poems from Psalm 23:

The 23d Psalme

The God of love my shepherd is,
And he that doth me feed:
While he is mine, and I am his,
What can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grasse,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently passe:
In both I have the best.

Or if I stray, he doth convert
And bring my minde in frame:
And all this not for my desert,
But for his holy name.

Yea, in death’s shadie black abode
Well may I walk, not fear:
For thou art with me; and thy rod
To guide, thy staff to bear.

Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine,
Ev’n in my enemies sight:
My head with oyl, my cup with wine
Runnes over day and night.

Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my dayes;
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.

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