Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 22 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Maurice and the Theban Legion
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Priest who composed “On Eagle’s Wings” writes new hymn for pandemic

J-P Mauro - published on 05/30/20

The new hymn has already been recorded dozens of times.

The priest who wrote “On Eagle’s Wings,” one of the most popular Christian songs in the hymnal, has penned a new tune inspired by the coronavirus world pandemic. Titled “Shelter Me,” the new hymn touches on themes of social isolation and uncertainty, based on the text of Psalm 23.

Father Michael Joncas explained in an interview with Kare 11, featured above, that he woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for “Shelter Me,” the new hymn that is taking the Christian world by storm. The priest spent the next seven hours fleshing out the song until the instant hit emerged.

Fr. Joncas told the Star Tribune that the images of those suffering through COVID-19 were especially moving to him because of his own battle with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. Having been intubated for the disease in 2000, he knew what patients on respirators were going through.

The song was reportedly written in just seven hours, from 3 a.m. to 10 a.m., at which point he contacted his music publisher, GIA Publications, who immediately began working to distribute the song. In the hopes that “Shelter Me” will help people through these hard times, they have made the score available to use free of royalties for a full year.

Christian musicians all over the world are already taking advantage of this grace period, recording their own renditions of “Shelter Me” and posting them to YouTube. There is already a playlist of over 50 recordings of “Shelter Me,” with some really impressive arrangements.

There were two recordings that stuck out to us. One was from Spiritu, a Catholic choir based out of the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, Minnesota, hometown of the composer himself. They made a lovely video from isolation that has some of the best sound quality that we’ve heard from these quarantine style recordings.

Our other favorite comes from Young Voices of the Philippines, a youth choir that focuses on training the next generation of musicians. This arrangement is impeccable, with full orchestration and interesting overlapping vocal lines. We were blown away that someone was able to put together such an advanced arrangement of the score so quickly, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it were to become the standard.

If you would like to get a copy of the score to try your own hand at recording “Shelter Me,” you can download the sheet music here.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.