Courage at Twilight: The Lord Is My Shepherd

When I hear the 23rd Psalm and envision myself walking beside still waters and lying down in green pastures, I do not think of triple-forte fff. But exultation is the spirit of Gordon Young’s arrangement of The Lord Is My Shepherd.  Mom had been working her way through her filing cabinet stuffed with choir music—hundreds of pieces—keeping her favorites and tossing the rest.  As she began plunking the allegro maestoso introduction on the piano, the music and the memories drew me irresistibly down the stairs and across 45 years to the church choir where I learned to sing under Mom’s enthusiastic and competent direction.  I stood behind her now, put aside my usual inhibitions, and belted out “God is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” from memory.  Mom pounded out the triplet eighth-note chords, and this 57-year-old returned to 12 and sang the melody.  Abruptly and appropriately subdued to meno mosso, I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, very temporarily, for I need fear no evil with my Shepherd with me, providing comfort, preparing my table, and anointing my head with aromatic oil.  I confess that my cup ran over as the music washed over me and the song neared the fortississimo fff promise of dwelling forever with the Lord.  Suddenly very happy, I thanked Mom for the break from my work, climbed the stairs to my home office, absorbed in emotional echoes of musical memory, and sat at my old desk to write, grateful to my Shepherd.

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