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Philip Sidney's Psalm 23 Read by Rev. Tom Holme

This, probably the most familiar psalm, was popular in the early modern period too as an expression of confidence in God’s infinite love.

This, probably the most familiar psalm, was popular in the early modern period too as an expression of confidence in God’s infinite love.

The image of a caring God is personified in the good shepherd (from Ezekial 34:11-16 and John 10:11-18) and the generous host who ‘oilst my head’ and ‘fill’st my up’, traditional eastern gestures of hospitality.

Watch the Reverend Tom Holme reading Sir Philip Sidney’s translation of Psalm 23 in the Sidney Chapel at Penshurst Church.

  • How does this compare to any versions of the psalm you know? Do any phrases or words stand out for you?

The text of the translation is below and the images of the beautiful manuscript, decorated with gold, in the video are from the Sidney Psalter which was professionally transcribed by Sir John Davies of Hereford and is used with kind permission of the Viscount De L’Isle.

Dominus regit me(1)

The Lord, the Lord my shepherd is,
And so can never I
Taste misery.
He rests me in green pastures his;
By waters still, and sweet
He guides my feet.
He me revives; leads me the way,
Which righteousness doth take,
For his name’s sake.
Yes, though I should through valleys stray,
Of death’s dark shade, I will
No whit fear ill.
For thou, dear Lord, thou me besett’st(2) Thy rod, and thy staff be
To comfort me;
Before me thou a table sett’st,
Ev’n when foe’s envious eye
Doth it espy.
Thour oil’st my head, thou fill’st my cup;
Nay, more, thou endless good,
Shall give me food.
To thee, I say, ascended up,
Where thou, the Lord of all,
Dost hold thy hall.

Notes
1. dominus regit me] the Lord rules me.
2. thou me besett’st] you set me up, establish me.

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Penshurst Place and the Sidney Family of Writers

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