Home > Lutheran Hymns > Beautiful Reformation-Era Lutheran Paraphrase of Psalm 23

Beautiful Reformation-Era Lutheran Paraphrase of Psalm 23

June 10th, 2010
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1. What shall we want if Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
Our soul’s refreshment doth He bring,
Revives us with His flowing spring,
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely doth escort us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame,
When need or anguish hurt us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Thy blessed staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is Thy cross, that from our lust
And harm doth e’er protect us.
It drains the poison of our sin
And all the evils wrought within
which else would rage and flourish.

4. Thy table Thou dost rich prepare,
And e’er to sight divest it—
Thy Holy Word’s delicious fare—
We with our heart digest it.
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Thy Spirit’s fullness.

5. Thy goodness and Thy mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through Thee, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Thy dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Thy gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Mr. Carver notes: Here is my translation of the early paraphrase of Psalm 23, “Was kann uns kommen an für Noth” (A. Knöpken, 1534), originally written in Low German: “Wat kan uns kamen an vor not.” It took a while to find the original German, as quite a few later paraphrases of the psalm have had significantly more popularity. Ludecus (1589) appoints it as a hymn for Trinity III. The proper melody is well known as an organ piece, but I could not find any notation for a congregational melody line.


1. Was kann uns kommen an für Noth,
so uns der Herre weidet,
und speiset uns mit Himmel-Brod,
und auf die Weide leitet:
Darzu erquicket unsre Seel,
und kühlet mit dem Wasser-Quell
seins werthen Heilgen Geistes.

2. Und wegen seines Namens groß
Er führt auf rechter Strassen,
und thut in keiner Zeit trostlos
in Angst und Noth uns lassen;
darum wir stetig muthig sein
auch in des Todes Schattn und Pein;
denn uns der Herr beistehet.

3. Dein Stab, mit dem du leiten thust,
uns tröstet und auch strafet,
das Kreuz dämpfet des Fleisches Lust,
daß es nicht Schaden schaffet
dem Geiste durch der Sünden Gift,
die alles Böse (leider!) stift,
und thut sich stetes regen.

4. Du einen Tisch bereitet hast,
den stetes wir anschauen,
deins heilgen Wortes werthe Kost,
die wir im Herzen kauen;
wenn uns des Feindes List anfällt,
dieselb denn unser Seel erhält,
samt deines Geistes Fülle.

5. Dein Güte und Barmherzigkeit
uns, Herre, folgen werden,
von nun an bis in Ewigkeit,
daß wir allhier auf Erden
durch seligmachend Glauben seyn,
dort offenbahr im Saale dein,
Bürger und Hausgenossen.

6. Das helf uns der Herr Jesus Christ,
der unsre Hertzen bauet,
durch Glauben, der rechtthätig ist,
und Gott den Vater schauet;
durch Ihme, samt dem Heilgen Geist
aufdaß werd dieser Wunsch geleist,
so sprecht einmüthig, Amen!

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns
  1. George
    June 10th, 2010 at 09:32 | #1

    Great Hymn. For some reason, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” (tune of course) came to mind when reading it. You’d have to add an Alleluia (or Lord, Have Mercy or something else) to the end of each verse.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this.


  2. June 10th, 2010 at 10:29 | #2

    Outstanding work! I hope Mr. Carver’s translations may find the light of day in usage among Lutheran congregations. This hymn would be a welcome addition to Divine Service for Good Shepherd Sunday.

    As for known tunes, I believe ES IST GEWISSLICH (LSB 508, 693) would fit. Though it would be good to hear the actual tune from the 16th Century.

  3. June 10th, 2010 at 11:30 | #3

    I personally like “Herr wie du willst” with this hymn.

  4. Pastor Steven Schlund
    June 17th, 2010 at 13:08 | #4

    Are we free to use this hymn in public worship (with proper copyright credit given)?

Comments are closed.