RFC: Analysis of “Shepherd Me, O God”
  • Hi everyone,

    I have spent the last hour or so writing up a side-by-side comparison of the Lectionary’s Psalm 23 text with Haugen “Shepherd Me, O God”. My attempt is to present this in an even-handed way that looks strictly at the text, apart from its musical setting.

    I am attaching it here; comments and conclusions are welcome.
  • When it is placed side by side, you can really see the poetic license, can't you?
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    And the "all about me" quality is also more apparent.

    While I find this piece tedious to play and sing, I know lots of folks who love it. And I don't mind it as an offertory or some misc. music as long as the singer doesn't croon and then do a belt on the bridge. Just don't stuff it in as the responsorial "for pastoral reasons."
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,188
    One should read the Hebrew alongside both of those. It makes the Haugen even further away.
  • Actually, Janet, having done this analysis, I myself now feel that this setting is more faithful to the original than many other such psalm-based songs. The only departure that I would term to be serious, at least in the context of a funeral (when we can more graciously accept the added material in the refrain) is the glossing over of the anointing and cup imagery.

    There is the “death” thing, too, which is a different reading than the 1998 Lectionary, 1963 Grail, and the 1986 NAB psalms (note that 1998 Lectionary is based on an earlier, more gender-specific version of the NAB psalms). Interestingly, though, Nova Vulgata does use “death”, so we may see that change coming our way in light of Liturgiam authenticam’s mandates for agreement between Nova Vulgata and vernacular translations.
  • I remember this paraphrase well. This seems far enough removed from the Lectionary translation to sidestep the copyright and royalty issues associated with said translation...

    (checking my reference version of Gather Comprehensive...)

    ...yup... "Copyright © 1986 GIA Publications." No mention of any other copyright holders.

    I also recall that we occasionally omitted the "bridge" completely, avoiding points 5-7 altogether.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    The expansion of the psalm text into the Haugen song reminds me of the Amplified Translation.
  • I am re-attaching this file in response to a request I received.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I was wondering if the antiphon should be analyzed as well. It is repeated, and congregational, so it would be easily remembered.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,204
    Based on FG's parsing, it's fairly clear that unlike the typical pattern of antiphons, i.e., taking language from the body of the psalm and modifying it (usually by shortening it or adding only one or two words that also come from the psalm itself), Haugen has added death and resurrection language to the antiphon not reflected in the psalm.

    For me personally I find the fourth verse, "You have set me a banquet of love. . . " to be one of the most egregious distortions of the original text and the grossest violation of "poetic license".
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    I have analyzed it right into the trash can. When I select psalms, the words need to come much closer to the actual scripture.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    Is this still the most frequently requested "responsorial Psalm" in anyone's parish? If so, have you tried to eliminate it; then, what has your success been? Just curious. I agree that it is so far off, and the meaning of the text is so altered, that it is unacceptable. That said, it's hard to find a "justification" since SttL #159 allows a LOT of leeway.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I would say this is fine as "Alius cantus aptus" (if you have to use that genre), but unacceptable as a psalm. BruceL, if challenged I would merely say that the parish can easily do much better than that.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,204
    At my previous position, I systematically removed it from our funeral psalmody, but continued to make it available for use at other points.

    Fortunately, our cantors were capable of singing the Gelineau setting which to my mind, given a choice between the two, is more acceptable.

    The Pastor who hired me found no difficulty with my reasoning and agreed that since the refrain wasn't a properly appointed text, it was better to avoid using it. Plus, people seemed to want to hear the text that more closely matched the lectionary translation.

    The "new broom" never even let me in on the part of the meeting with the family to select music, and did it all himself, thus derailing all of the good work we'd done to bring the music more in line with the "mind of the Church." Needless to say, I found myself at odds with him many times during our short time together, as far as music and liturgy were concerned.
  • I think his poetic license should be lifted.
  • To the extent that the word "want" is now generally thought of in the sense of "desire" rather than "lack", we should jetison "I shall want" as the English translation for Hebrew "'ehsar", which means "I shall lack". Does it make sense to be shepherded from one's "lacks"? Clearly, God does not take us away from our needs, but in the psalm he fulfills them. Whereas the English is simply unclear, I think that Mr. Haugen has misunderstood the meaning of the word "want" in this psalm and shepherds us toward a rather Buddhist take.

    I find it noteworthy that the Hebrew never has the word ahavah "love" in the psalm, thought Mr. Haugen has thought it correct to introduce it thrice. It also seems problematic that both times the Hebrew uses the Tetragrammaton, Haugen has replaced it with "God," rather than the expected replacement "Lord." Despite the introduction of the sentence, "My spirit shall sing the music of your name," the Lord's name has been gratuitously obscured.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Regarding funeral use ...

    If the Church provides the texts,
    and said texts are found in the booklet
    Joseph M Champlin "Through Death To Life"
    and parishes are distributing the booklets to the relatives to select the funeral texts,
    how does a musician make the jump to a paraphrase?

    It seems to me the musician is disrespecting both
    the Church and the relatives.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    David andrew,

    So far, your procedure has been my policy at funerals. The problem lies herein: the practice of the parish is to have the priests "plan" the music with the family. Generally, I believe the family is only allowed to pick the "songs" for the 4 hymn sandwich. For some reason, though, this came up just recently, and I didn't have a way to (respectfully) contact the family in time.


    I enforce that policy rigorously for weddings and funerals...only to have brides call the competent authorities in the diocese, which then fails to back me up. I wish it did more good to "appeal to Caesar" in my case!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    More and more I am forming the conclusion that asking people for input
    for funerals (or weddings or quinceaneras)
    naturally drives them toward looking for something that is familiar.

    We are really giving relatives a recognition test!

    The booklet has D-1 The Lord Is My Shepherd
    and most relatives seldom read further on to D-2 or D-whatever,
    and if they do, what are they looking for?
    How could any other option be more familiar?

    There is a danger that using a psalm-text-like piece of music at any Mass
    will acquaint parishioners (and priests) with these song paraphrases.
    The funeral preparation meeting perusal of the texts will cause a memory-jog,
    and result in the "can you do the one that goes (monotone rhythmic reproduction here)?"
    --to which the response should be: "sure, do you want it at offertory or communion?"
    and then you quickly move on to the next item to be chosen.
    The Psalm thereby remains un-modified and sung in a word-centric manner.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    BruceL: "SttL #159 allows a LOT of leeway"

    Mar 2003
    the USCCB modifications to GIRM-2000 get CDWDS-recognitio as ...

    61. After the first reading comes the responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God.

    The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary.

    It is preferable that the responsorial Psalm be sung, at least as far as the people’s response is concerned. Hence, the psalmist, or the cantor of the Psalm, sings the verses of the Psalm from the ambo or another suitable place. The entire congregation remains seated and listens but, as a rule, takes part by singing the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through without a response. In order, however, that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more readily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the various seasons of the year or for the various categories of Saints. These may be used in place of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in such a way that it is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the word of God.

    In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

    Nov 2007
    the USCCB votes NOT to seek CDWDS-recognitio for STTL and says ...

    159. Songs or hymns that do not at least paraphrase a psalm may never be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm.[129]
    footnote 129:
    See GIRM, no. 61.

    Emphasis mine.
    The USCCB is mis-representing their own approved-by-Rome text.

    Like high school students who think they can invent books and page numbers, and even the text itself,
    because they think that the instructor will not verify the citations.
  • Folks, I personally think SMoG is not too-too far off overall, as I think my side-by-side analysis shows.

    “Banquet of love” may strike some as hokey, but it’s more of an elaboration on the original text rather than a deviation from it, IMO.

    The big concerns, IMO, are the obscured anointing/cup imagery and the modified refrain text. These make this one a better choice for communion, IMO, than for a responsorial psalm.

    eft94530: I wonder if SttL 159 doesn’t relate to a yet-unpublished clause of the Directory on Music that we are supposed to get at some point. Strictly speaking, that paragraph doesn’t grant permission (á la white-list) for paraphrases so much as that it establishes a “black-list policy” against songs/hymns that don’t at least paraphrase the psalm.

    Bear in mind that most of the time when someone uses Haas “The Lord is My Light and My Salvation” etc., the Lectionary text is actually from a different part of the psalm in part: the verses, the response, or both are mismatched. This is not the case with SMoG.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Felipe: "relate to a yet-unpublished clause of the Directory on Music"

    Liturgiam Authenticam has several paragraphs that are related to this discussion.
    Emphasis mine

    There is only one paragraph that refers specifically to Psalms ...

    41. The effort should be made to ensure that the translations be conformed to that understanding of biblical passages which has been handed down by liturgical use and by the tradition of the Fathers of the Church, especially as regards very important texts such as the Psalms and the readings used for the principal celebrations of the liturgical year; in these cases the greatest care is to be taken so that the translation express the traditional Christological, typological and spiritual sense, and manifest the unity and the inter-relatedness of the two Testaments.[34] For this reason:

    a) it is advantageous to be guided by the Nova Vulgata wherever there is a need to choose, from among various possibilities [of translation], that one which is most suited for expressing the manner in which a text has traditionally been read and received within the Latin liturgical tradition;

    b) for the same purpose, other ancient versions of the Sacred Scriptures should also be consulted, such as the Greek version of the Old Testament commonly known as the “Septuagint”, which has been used by the Christian faithful from the earliest days of the Church;[35]

    c) in accordance with immemorial tradition, which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned “Septuagint” version, the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning.

    Finally, translators are strongly encouraged to pay close attention to the history of interpretation that may be drawn from citations of biblical texts in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, and also from those biblical images more frequently found in Christian art and hymnody.

    And since this music setting you are disecting is not using the Lectionary translation,
    I think it is a "new liturgical text" and falls into this ...

    [section] 6. The composition of new liturgical texts in a vernacular language

    106. Regarding the composition of new liturgical texts prepared in vernacular languages, which may perhaps be added to those translated from the Latin editiones typicae, the norms currently in force are to be observed, in particular those contained in the Instruction Varietates legitimae.[75] An individual Conference of Bishops shall establish one or more Commissions for the preparation of texts or for the work involved in the suitable adaptation of texts. The texts are then to be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the recognitio, prior to the publication of any books intended for the celebrants or for the general use of the Christian faithful.[76]

    107. It is to be borne in mind that the composition of new texts of prayers or rubrics is not an end in itself, but must be undertaken for the purpose of meeting a particular cultural or pastoral need. For this reason it is strictly the task of the local and national liturgical Commissions, and not of the Commissions treated in nn. 92-104 above. New texts composed in a vernacular language, just as the other adaptations legitimately introduced, are to contain nothing that is inconsistent with the function, meaning, structure, style, theological content, traditional vocabulary or other important qualities of the texts found in the editiones typicae.[77]

    108. Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity.[78] If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided. Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

    Liturgiam Authenticam (2001) is not mentioned even once in STTL (2007).

    Sometimes I wonder if I am devoting my life to Liturgy or a game of Calvinball. Sigh.
  • Mary Ann
    Posts: 49
    Fr. Edward McNamara's current column on ZENIT website, "Substituting the Psalm," quotes the GIRM (#61, 57), and finishes up with a beautiful quote from St. Augustine regarding Scripture...

  • Mary Ann
    Posts: 49
    (groan) My apologies...had I checked beforehand I would not have posted the ZENIT column info...you can find it in its entirety in the thread, "Hymns in place of Psalms." Thank you, frogman noel jones. I'll be more careful next time.
  • Mary Ann, I saw that but did not comment on your post because it just shows that we are all thinking and interested in sharing. I liked the article as much as you did!
  • marymezzomarymezzo
    Posts: 236
    Eft wrote "More and more I am forming the conclusion that asking people for input for funerals (or weddings or quinceaneras) naturally drives them toward looking for something that is familiar."

    I try to present a slate of preferred music in order to help move people in the desired direction. More than once, for a funeral, I've said, "I'm sure you'll want the 'In Paradisum' chant." And then I give them a rough translation of the text. After that, nobody has ever said, "Oh, no, we don't want *that* sung."

    For a recent wedding I tried to tease out what the couple might have in mind, but it became clear they were clueless. So I presented a complete program to them, gave them English translations of the texts that our quartet would sing in Latin and German, and handed over a CD with most of the music we were proposing. It made their lives easier.

    And the wedding turned out beautifully . . . until the organist threw in a couple of bars of "Rocky Top" during the recessional. There are some things we just can't control.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Shepherd Me, O God, Beyond This Song
    Thanked by 1Dave
  • Francis: cute!

    Kind of like my someday-to-write essays “Who cares if you compose?” and “Boulez is dead”.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703

    I compose now, but at some point in time I will decompose. At that point you can also say "Koerber is dead".
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    your attachment is no longer part of your post.
    Can you update your post to re-attach?

    ... and to the forum admins,
    Why does this "attachments disappear after a while" problem occur?
  • When it comes to this particular piece of MUZAK, I am soooooo glad to be Anglican - Catholic. I remeber also the first time I ever heard and was forced to play at a funeral, "Gentle Mary" from Glory and Praise. My cantor immediately placed a VERY large brandy sniffer glass on the organ console for donation like in a bar setting LOL.
  • The Grail, English lectionary translations of this psalm and the paraphrased text for SMOG are not poetic for me yet.
    I don't know what is missing. Here might be a case where more poetic feet are necessary to to bear these profound images and emotions. Perhaps supplemented through melismas. In secular poetry sometimes we play with the logic a little just to slow down our minds as when a poet inserts riddles and conundrums: Like - The Lord is my shepherd he breaks my legs. (that more how it unfolds in my life)
    The short phrases we frequently hear - even in pslam tones - mess with the logic of the text. I think we should learn how to read this psalm before we sing it.
    Musically SMog is quite the opposite of all that: and that melody would do violence to any text of that psalm.
    Is'nt it an tango?
  • Erik P
    Posts: 152
  • I don't play funerals anymore, so reading this thread brought back memories of all the strange request and frustrating pieces like SMoG. I actully had a nightmare after reading this thread. T-pain was up in the loft with a cajun band waiting for me to start the funeral music.

    "Shepherd Me O God" could be sung acapella by a fine schola. I would be beautiful if directed with good chironomy at a relaxed but not slow tempo.
    In order to maintain and respect the congregation's repertoire , I have taken up a similar challenge: so we often sing some G&P songs like "the Cry of the Poor," "Only in God," and some of Deiss' hymns too, which have verses that align themselves with psalm tones. We interpret them as if they were chants and sing them at a good clip with a more elastic tempo.
    These kinds of pieces will accept chironomy well and can develop into dignified sacred pieces that parody the melodic shape and feelings of actual introits.
    Make your changes with charity and patience.
  • Ralph - that's an interesting and a great idea.

    As far as Shepherd Me, O God goes, I actually don't mind it so much for Communion or Preparation. At least it is a direct prayer to God and it is based on scriptural - it's sad for that to be the gold standard, but look at some of the other junk in OCP, et al.