Church of the Good Shepherd

The Anglo-Catholic Parish of the Episcopal Diocese Of Upper South Carolina

Hymn for the month of September

picture of Wesley Hymn

Your idea of fun changes as you grow older. From that first tricycle ride down the steep incline of a public road, to laying rubber on the road driving that first muscle car bought with earnings from your first real job, to finally enjoying an afternoon with a good book and a glass of wine in your own home.

For me, and I’ll be sixy-seven this month, one idea of fun is going into the church about ten minutes before the service begins, picking up a Hymnal, and looking at the hymns we will sing that day (sounds like a good time, doesn’t it?). But if you were to do that every Sunday, as I do, you might learn some interesting

In this new series, “The Hymn of the Month,” each month, we’ll take a look at one of the hymns we will sing, and learn a little something about the author, the music, or the meaning of one of the verses.

So, who is Charles Wesley? Given his prolific body of work, we’ll probably discuss him more than once, but we’ll get to him later. This month, as an introduction, I’ll just mention that on the third Sunday we’ll sing Suzi’s favorite hymn, “The King of Love my Shepherd Is,” set to a traditional Irish melody named for my favorite Celtic Saint, St. Columba.

The third verse starts with the line, “Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me,” evoking thoughts of the boundless love Christ has for his faithless children. St. Columba sets a perfect example of the boundlessness of Christ’s love, regardless of how perverse and foolish our actions. Motivated by greed, he secretly made a copy of a priceless and beautiful illustrated Psalter. The High King ordered Columba to surrender his illicit copy, but St. Columba refused. A battle ensued for possession of the Psalter in which more than 3,000 of the King’s men were slain. St. Columba recognized his sin, and confessed it to his confessor. As penance he was required to leave Ireland never to return, and sail to Iona, an uninhabited island off of the western coast of Scotland. There he established a monastery and exceeded his penance that he convert to Christianity as many souls as he had caused to die in his battle for the copy of the Psalter, thus restored to grace by the King of Love.

The St. Columba hymn is numbered 645 in The Hymnal 1982.