"HIS YOKE IS EASY"
"Come unto Me…for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30)
INTRO.: A song which calls us to come to Jesus because His yoke is easy and His burden is light is "His Yoke Is Easy," also sometimes known by its first line, "The Lord Is My Shepherd." The text, based on Psalm 23 with the chorus taken from Matt. 11:28-30, was written and the tune (Easy Yoke) was composed both by Ralph Erskine Hudson (1843-1901). It is dated 1885 and was probably first published in his book Songs of Peace, Joy, and Love, compiled that year. Hudson is perhaps best known for taking Isaac Watts’s hymn beginning "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed," adding a chorus, and composing a tune to make the song "At the Cross." He also wrote the song "Jesus Now Is Calling;" provided the melodies for William O. Cushing’s "I Will Follow Jesus," Clara T. Williams’s "Satisfied," and Frances R. Havergal’s "The Half Has Never Yet Been Told;" adapted the tune used with William H. Clark’s "Blessed Be the Name;" and authored the text of "I’ll Live for Him" set to music by Charles R. Dunbar.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "His Yoke Is Easy" appeared with the chorus only in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson. The entire song can be found in other hymnals such as the 1959 Christian Hymnal (Mennonite) published by the Church of God in Christ Mennonite Gospel Publishers; the 1959 Hymns of Dawn published by the Dawn Bible Students Association; the 1972 Living Hymns published by Encore Publications Inc.; the 1972 Soul Stirring Songs and Hymns published by the Sword of the Lord Publishers; and undated Praise and Worship Hymnal, the 1972 Worship in Song Hymnal, and the 1993 Sing to the Lord Hymnal all published by the Lillenas Publishing Company. It is not to be confused with another song of the same name by Daniel S. Warner and Barney Elliot Warren, or other songs having the title "The Lord Is My Shepherd," such as those by James Montgomery and H. W. Elliot, which have appeared in some of our books.
The song reminds us that Jesus is the Shepherd to whom we should come and whom we should follow.
I. Stanza 1 focuses on the Shepherd
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by."
A. The Lord is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep and whom we should follow: Jn. 10:16, 27
B. Making us lie down in green pastures symbolizes the spiritual food that He provides for our souls: Jn. 6:27
C. Also, He leads us by the quiet waters to give us living waters: Jn. 4:10-14
II. Stanza 2 focuses on our need
"My soul crieth out: ‘Restore me again,
And give me the strength to take
The narrow path of righteousness,
E’en for His own Name’s sake."
A. From time to time our souls need to be restored or revived: Ps. 85:6, 138:7
B. Therefore, we must look to our Shepherd for strength: Eph. 3:16, 6:10
C. If we do this, He will lead us in the narrow path of righteousness that leads to everlasting life: Matt. 7:13-14
III. Stanza 3 focuses on the blessings
"Yea, though I should walk the valley of death,
Yet why should I fear from ill?
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still."
A. At one time or another all of us shall walk the valley of death: Heb. 9:27
B. However, even then we shall have nothing to fear: Matt. 10:28
C. As long as we follow the Shepherd, He has promised to be with us and never forsake us: Heb. 13:5-6
CONCL.: The chorus tells us that the yoke of this Shepherd is not heavy but easy and light.
"His yoke is easy, His burden is light;
I’ve found it so, I’ve found it so.
He leadeth me by day and by night
Where living waters flow."
One might assume that there could be another stanza or two that modern editors, in their haste to pare down hymns to their bare minimum, have omitted, but I have not been able to confirm that. Many people in this world misunderstand pure and undefiled religion, thinking that it is an onerous burden of nothing but "thou shalt nots" designed to take all the fun out of life. However, those who are truly following the Good Shepherd have personally experienced that this is not so but that "His Yoke Is Easy."