To bring comfort to a world that has many people staying at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, Father Michael Joncas has written a prayer-song, “Shelter Me.” Joncas ’75 is a world- renowned composer most recognized for his hymn, “On Eagle’s Wings.” Ordained in 1980, he joined the faculty at the University of St. Thomas in 1991. Now, as artist-in-residence, he writes musical compositions for the university, which has included the school’s new alma mater. “Shelter Me” is song that came to him in the middle of the night. “I woke up at about 3 a.m. on March 26 with the germ of an idea to write a prayer-song to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. Father Joncas Writes ‘Shelter Me’ During Pandemic
Shepherd and sheep, my God and I: to fresh green fields you led my steps in days gone by. You gave me rest by quiet springs and filled my soul with peace your loving presence brings.
Refrain: O shelter me, O shelter me: the way ahead is dark and difficult to see. O shelter me, O shelter me: all will be well if only you will shelter me.
Yet now I tread a diff’rent way; death dogs my path with stealthy steps from day to day. I cannot find your peaceful place but dwell in dreary darkness, longing for your face.
I will look back in days to come and realize your faithfulness has led me home. Within your house I’ll find my peace, trusting that in your mercy you have sheltered me.
*At the request of the composer, “Shelter Me” is reprinted free under ONE LICENSE.
You can read a Q&A with Father Joncas in which he reflects on his feelings and observations during the pandemic and the prayer-song it inspired. He also shares how music has shaped his life. See news.stthomas.edu.
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