Like a Child at Home

Today’s poem is actually a hymn that I love. It isn’t one that’s in the LDS hymnbook, but I think it’s pretty common in American (Protestant) worship. “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” really resonates with me, not because I rely on Christ in all I do (though I recognize that’s why I should love it. And also that I should actually rely etc…), but because it speaks to my sense of rootlessness. The thing I love about ecocriticism (my professional focus, insofar as I can claim to have one) is its concern with people and their relationship with places. I’ve moved around just often enough to be nearly unable to answer the question “Where are you from?” without giving my life story. I end up defining  home as my family or as my faith rather than as a concrete location. While I see advantages to this relative disconnectedness (or perhaps just a different form of connection?), I’ve also envied people who are so clearly a product of their specific community. Sometimes I feel like a cloud in world full of trees. As the closing verse of this hymn says, I am often either a stranger or, eventually, a guest, but hardly ever truly at home in any place. This hymn suggests, as a remedy, that even in my eternal wanderings (however you’d like to define that), I can find a place where I belong, a place I never have to leave if I don’t want to, provided I can follow Christ. As I get ready to leave again in the next month, it’s a message I find particularly comforting. So that’s why I chose to share this as my poem for the day. Farther down should be a youtube link to a MoTab version of this hymn (paired with a slideshow of… is it Greg Olsen art? Recognizable Mormon art? Arranged by Mack Wilberg, though don’t trust me on that) in case you’d rather listen.

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
by Isaac Watts

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is his name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death,
The presence is my stay;
A word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows;
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may thine house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home.

No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home.


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