Today’s final solemnity of the liturgical year focuses on our king and shepherd, and as such, our music also reflects upon these themes. Our first anthem is “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” arranged by John Ness Beck (1930-1987). The original hymn was based on an Irish tune called “St. Columba,” named after the saint who is said to have “carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland,” and the text is a paraphrase of Psalm 23, written by Henry W. Baker (1821-1877). The final words of the author at his death were from the third stanza.
The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His, and He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
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.
And so through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never,
Good shepherd may I sing thy praise, within thy house forever.
Our second anthem is based on today’s Psalm, “I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me,” by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918), who wrote it for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The text has been used to crown the Kings and Queens of England since the 1600s, and this setting was also used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and again for the celebration of her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees celebrating her ascension to the throne. Today, we celebrate the ascension of Christ to His throne. This anthem was also used for the Dedication of Christ Cathedral this summer. Christ, the King of the Jews, says in today’s Gospel, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Indeed, the gates of Paradise are opened wide with this triumphant piece, through which the Glory of the Lord and the King of the Universe enters.
I was glad when they said unto me:
We will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates: O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem is builded as a city: That is at unity in itself.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls:
And plenteousness within thy palaces.
—Lorraine Joy Welling, Director
Gloria Dei Choir