A New Prayer-Song During the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

At 3 AM last Wednesday my subconscious prodded me awake with the germ of an idea for a prayer-song appropriate to address the anxieties and fears evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. After deciding that the text would be a paraphrase of the beloved Psalm 23, I crafted a text in which the first verse would look back to a time of intimacy with God, and the third would look forward to a return to that blessed time, but the central verse would acknowledge that we are in the present “walking in the valley of the shadow of death.” The basic composition was finished by about 10 AM, though I continued to tweak both text and music for the rest of the day.

The next day I sent it off to GIA, Inc, and they, recognizing the time-sensitive character of the text, immediately accepted it for publication and placed it on the OneLicense website where it can be downloaded and reproduced for worship use free of charge for one year as long as the copyright notice remains intact. The link takes you to multiple pdf files that would allow you to at least preview the composition. One of the pdf files takes you to a reproducible “combox” with the congregation’s refrain and the other to the first page of a melody line with piano accompaniment for preview.

I pray that this prayer-song will be of comfort and encouragement as we weather the pandemic and its effects.

Here is the text:

1. Shepherd and sheep, my God and I:
to fresh green fields you led my steps in days gone by.
You gave me rest by quiet springs
and filled my soul with peace your loving presence brings.

REFRAIN: O shelter me, O shelter me:
the way ahead is dark and difficult to see.
O shelter me, O shelter me:
all will be well if only you will shelter me.

2. Yet now I tread a diff’rent way;
death dogs my path with stealthy steps from day to day.
I cannot find your peaceful place
but dwell in dreary darkness, longing for your face.

REFRAIN:

3. I will look back in days to come
and realize your faithfulness has led me home.
Within your house I’ll find my peace,
trusting that in your mercy you have sheltered me.

May the compassionate and merciful God continue to assure us of his presence.

7 comments

  1. Went BBC to one license grc found only ref no piano no verses. Gia nothing came up. Where can I buy a complete pdf

  2. Thank you Father Michael. Printed song and is a moving song.
    Will use it this week at our taped Mass and will give you credit. Will also use on first week back in public worship whenever that may be. Peace stay healthy!

  3. This is truly worshipful and mercy-seeking, which is what we’re all about before God. I saw glimpses of Psalms 22, 56, and 118, as well of course as its main source, Psalm 23…many thanks

  4. I have been using the piece as a prayer before our livestream mass begins. It is such a wonderful composition, both theologically and artistically, as we have come to expect from Michael! I find that it touches people (at least the 5 people allowed in the space where we record) and I find that I am singing the refrain all day long. Thank you, Michael

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