Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd

Representative Text

1 Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd,
children all are dear to you;
may your loving arms enfold them
in your care their whole life through.
By your tending and protecting
keep them safe in all they do.

2 Tender Shepherd, never leave them,
never let them go astray;
by your warning love directed,
may they walk the narrow way.
Thus direct them, thus defend them
lest they fall an easy prey.

3 By your holy Word instruct them,
fill their minds with heav'nly light;
by your pow'rful grace convince them
always to approve what's right.
Let them feel your yoke is easy,
let them find your burden light.

4 Taught to love the holy praises
which on earth your children sing,
with their lips and hearts, sincerely,
glad thank-off'rings may they bring,
then with all the saints in glory
join to praise their Lord and King.

Source: Christian Worship: Hymnal #757

Author (attributed to): Jane Elizabeth Leeson

Leeson, Jane E.. The earliest work by Miss Leeson with which we are acquainted is her Infant Hymnings. Then followed Hymns and Scenes of Childhood, or A Sponsor's Gift (London, James Burns; Nottingham, Dearden), 1842, in which the Infant Hymnings were incorporated. Concerning Pt. ii. of the Hymns and Scenes, &c, Miss Leeson says, "For the best of the Poems in the second part, the Writer is indebted to a friend." In the Rev. Henry Formby's Catholic Hymns arranged in order for the principal Festivals, Feasts of Saints, and other occasions of Devotion throughout the Year, London, Burns and Lambert, N.D. [1851], "Imprimatur, N. Cardinalis Wiseman, May 3rd, 1853," her translation of Victimae Paschali (“Christ the Lord is risen to-day"), and he… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd
Title: Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd
Author (attributed to): Jane Elizabeth Leeson (1842)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Gracious Saviour, gentle [holy] Shepherd. [The Good Shepherd.] In Miss Jane E. Leeson's Hymns & Scenes of Childhood, Published in 1842, three hymns appeared as follows:—
1. "Shepherd, in Thy bosom folded," as No. v."
2. "Loving Shepherd of Thy sheep," as No. xvii.
3. "Infant sorrow, infant weakness," as No. xl.
Upon these hymns the cento, "Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd," is based. It was first published in the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, No. 183, in 5 stanzas of 6 lines, and was appointed for Holy Baptism. It is thus composed:—

i. "Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd,
Little Ones are dear to Thee;
Gathered with
Thine arms and carried
In Thy bosom they may be
Sweetly, fondly, safely tended
From all want and danger free."

Of this stanza lines 1-4 are from stanza iii. of No. xl., as above, and lines 5, 6 of No. v. The words in italics in this and the remaining stanzas are by Miss Leeson; the alterations and additions being by the Rev. J. Keble.

ii. "Tender Shepherd, never leave them
From Thy fold to go astray;
By Thy look of love directed,
May they walk the narrow way;
Thus direct them, and protect them,
Lest they fall an easy prey."

This stanza is rewritten from No. xvii. as above, no single line of the original being retained. It is based on the whole hymn, and not on any single stanza.

iii. “Cleanse their hearts from sinful folly
In the stream Thy
love supplied;
Mingled streams of Blood and water
Flowing from Thy wounded side
And to heavenly pastures lead them,
Where Thine own still waters glide."

The lines in italics are from Miss Leeson's No. v., stanza ii; whilst lines 5, 6, by J. Keble, have nothing in common with the three hymns.

iv. "Let Thy holy word instruct them:
Fill their minds with heavenly light;
Let Thy love and grace constrain them,
To approve whate'er is right,
Take Thine easy yoke and wear it,
And to prove Thy burden light.”

This is a new stanza by J. Keble, the keynote being Miss Leeson's No. v., stanza iii., line 1— "Ever and anon instruct me."

v. “Taught to lisp the holy praises
Which on earth Thy children sing,—
Both with lips and hearts unfeigned
May they their thank-offerings bring;
Then with all the saints in glory
Join to praise their Lord and King!"

This stanza is Miss Leeson's No. v., stanza iii., rewritten.
In 1860 this cento was repeated in Jonathan Whittemore's Baptist Supplement to all Hymn Books, Lond., J. F. Shaw, No. 140, and signed " W.," i.e. "Whittemore." This subscription has led the cento to be described as by "Miss Jane E. Leeson, and the Rev. Jonathan Whittemore, Baptist Minister, b. April 6, 1802; d. Oct. 31, 1860." Seeing, however, that Whittemore's text is a repetition of the Salisbury Hymn Book text, with the single alteration of stanza iii., line 6, from " Where Thine own still waters glide," to "Where the peaceful waters glide," this ascription must be set aside in favour of “Miss Jane E. Leeson, 1842; J. Keble, 1857." [E MSS. and S. MSS.]
The use of this cento in all English-speaking countries is very great. The opening line sometimes reads, "Gracious Saviour, holy Shepherd," but this form is not received with general favour.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Gracious Saviour, gentle [holy] Shepherd, p. 448, ii. Since the published of this Dictionary in 1892 we have found a copy of J. Whittemore's Baptist Supplement to all Hymn Books, dated 1850, and in it, as No.140, is the cento which, as being in the Salisbury Hymn Book of 1857, we attributed to Miss J. E. Leeson, 1842; J. Keble, 1857. It must now read; Miss J. E. Leeson, 1842; J. Whittemore, 1850.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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