From Psalm 23 in Song and Sonnet (1883)

By William C. Richards

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for though art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


My Shepherd

"The Lord is my Shepherd."

A poor, weak wanderer on life's stormy wold,

The Lord, my Shepherd, keeps me by His might;
By day He feeds me; and through all the night
I lie in peaceful slumber in His fold;
I know not scorching heat nor pinching cold;
His smile in darkness is my star of light;
At His dear voice my fears and foes take flight,
And naught of good His gracious hands withhold.

What the fond shepherd for his flock would do

In earthly fold, or where wild waters stream,
The Lord, my Shepherd, by His grace exceeds
In reaches which my thoughts in vain pursue.
His wisdom infinite, His strength supreme,
I need, alone, to follow where He leads.

Restoration

"He restoreth my soul."

WEARY of soul, and faint, as oft I lie,

Beneath my burdens and my sore defaults,
Beneath the subtle charms or sharp assults
With which the Tempter knows so well to ply
My will, in doubt to falter or defy--
(Yet faltering only, while it only halts),
A tender voice my sinking faith exalts;
And to the open arms of Strength I fly.

No sovereign cordial for a strife-spent soul

The subtlest skill of chemic art distils,
Though swooning courage quickens to its draughts,
When mortal tumults in the bosom roll.
Thy balm alone, Divine Restorer, heals
The wasting wounds of sin, and Satanís shafts.

The Dark Valley

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death."

WHAT though the vale be dark and chill and drear,

Through which I grope to pastures ever green;
Though grewsome shapes and shadows throng the scene,
And fiery-breathíd Apollyon meet me there;
Or the last foe himself, grim Death, draw near--
Vain menace to my peace their threats shall mean:
My Shepherdís circling arm shall come between
My trustful soul, and every ghostly fear.

Since He is with me I may well be brave,

For His right hand hath fought and vanquished Death:
His smile of victory hath transformed the grave
To sacred crypt, wherein my fleeting breath,
By alchemy divine, that change shall have
Which blossoms endless life, the flower of Faith.

The Gracious Banquet

"Thou preparest a table before me.."

"A feast thou spreadest me before my foes."

Thus sings the exiled king of Israel,
Hid from his ruthless son in Gileadís vale,
Where Lebanonís beetling brow majestic shows;
For the drear waste with milk and honey flows,
As bread and wine his needs begin to fail.
In dread lest sword and famine both assail
His helpless camp, the Lord relieves his woes.

Shobi and Machir and Barzillai bring

All-bounteous gifts, and with a bounteous grace,
To feed the fasting army of the king,
And crown his table in grim dangerís face.
So, still, Christís bread and wine His Church shall sing,
Her manna rained on every desert place.

Two Angels

"Have followed me all the days of my life."

Two angels on my daily paths attend,

Unswerving, from the cradle to the grave,
Full-powered, but for my wilfulness, to save
My feet, my hands, my tongue, from every end
Of error and of sin to which they trend,--
Alike most loving, tender, true, and brave,
And in whose high companionship I have
This only pain, that I their grace offend,--

How oft, I cannot to myself confess,

Nor dare I think how more in Godís pure view;
Though to His grace I yield my countless blames,
To sink, unseen, in Christís deep righteousness,
Whose faithful angels all my steps pursue;
MERCY and GOODNESS being their sweet names.