Some years ago at a drawing-room function, one of England’s leading actors was asked to recite for the pleasure of his fellow guests. He consented and asked if there was anything special that his audience would like to hear.
After a moment’s pause an old clergyman present said ‘Could you sir, recite to us the Twenty-third Psalm?’
A strange look passed over the actor’s face; he paused for a moment, and then said, ‘I can, and I will, upon one condition; and that is that after I have recited it, you, my friend, will do the same.’
‘I?’ said the clergyman, in surprise. ‘But I am not an elocutionist. However, if you wish it, I will do so.
Impressively, the great actor began the Psalm. His voice and his intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound; and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guests.
Then, as it died away, the old clergyman arose and began the psalm. His voice was not remarkable; his intonation was not faultless. When he had finished, no sound of applause broke the silence, but there was not a dry eye in the room, and many heads were bowed.
Then the actor rose to his feet again. His voice shook as he laid his hand upon the shoulder of the old clergyman and said: ‘I reached your eyes and ears, my friends; he reached your hearts. The difference is just this - I know the Twenty-third Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.’