"As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams"
Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, 1696
Our Hymn of the Week is one of the most moving of all the psalms, the forty-second, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks,” set into English verse by Nahum Tate and Dr. Nicholas Brady, an Anglican bishop. Tate and Brady were a couple of Irishmen with a turn for poetry, and a real sense that the best way for English speakers to sing Hebrew poetry would be for them to sing it as English poetry. So they collaborated in doing just that for all the psalms, among which is our hymn, “As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams.”
Once, I was with my family at St. John Lateran, in Rome, and we were looking at a glorious mosaic, in which were pictured, among other wonderful things, some deer sipping at the water of a rushing brook. A nearby tour guide said, in English, that the deer symbolized the apostles, but that wasn’t true, I told my children. They were the deer in the psalm, refreshing themselves — and so they represented all of us, because we are like those deer, as with the psalmist …
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