Something Beautiful

"Psalm 23 (Dedicated to my Mother)," performed by Cantus.

(If you can't see the video, try this link.)

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need, She makes me lie down in green meadows, Beside the still waters, She will lead. She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs, She leads me in a path of good things, And fills my heart with songs. Even though I walk through a dark & dreary land, There is nothing that can shake me, She has said She won't forsake me, I'm in her hand. She sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes, She anoints my head with oil, And my cup overflows. Surely, surely goodness & kindness will follow me, All the days of my life, And I will live in her house, Forever, forever & ever. Glory be to our Mother, & Daughter, And to the Holy of Holies, As it was in the beginning, is now & ever shall be, World without end. Amen.

The first time I heard this, I did a double double-take. I did a double take when I heard the first female reference to God, and did another double take when I saw who the composer was: Bobby McFerrin, of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" fame. But it was just too beautiful to ignore. Even if it's jarring to hear the pronouns differently than we're used to, it is a stunning picture of God as a careful, caring mother. Indeed, don't we expect Psalm 23 to evoke in us an image of a kind and caring shepherd? I think that many of us look to this Psalm as a source of comfort, knowing that God nurtures and cares for us, watches out for us and provides for us, accompanies us and shelters us. And so I believe that both the shepherd image and the mother image get us to that same place. Isn't it amazing that our God is a God who restores our souls and a God who provides for us and a God who won't desert us even in the darkest valleys?


  1. Yes...I have a crush on Cantus. A serious one.

  2. That's absolutely gorgeous. I love the feminine pronouns, even the Mother and Daughter reference. If you're open to it you can hear the psalm in a different way and expand your image of God.

    The only problem I'm afraid of is that, were I to use such overtly feminine imagery for God in worship, people would think or say that it's just his liberal and feminist agenda and would shut themselves down from a new hearing and an expanded image of God.

    My kids have occasionally stated that God isn't a he or a she. I'm not sure if that means God is neither or that God is both. Maybe it means that God is either.

    The psalter in Evangelical Lutheran Worship gets around the masculine language of Psalm 23 by making the pronouns all 2nd person (you and your).