"'How sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot'"
William Blake
Public DomainWilliam Blake - Credit: after John Linnell
Blake's own illustration of
Public DomainBlake's own illustration of "The Shepherd" in 'Songs of Innocence' - Credit: William Blake

This is the opening line of 'The Shepherd' by William Blake (1757-1827), the innovative English poet, painter, printmaker and mystic.

The poem was first published in 1789 in Blake's well-known Songs of Innocence, and then republished in 1794 in the extended volume, Songs of Innocence and Experience. 

How sweet is the Shepherd's sweet lot!/From the morn to the evening he strays,

He shall follow his sheep all the day,/And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

For he hears the lambs' innocent call,/And he hears the ewes' tender reply;

He is watchful while they are in peace/For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

 

The words have been set to music on numerous occasions; one such setting is the "Pastoral - The Shepherd" by  William Havergal Brian (1876-1972), published in 1922.