Posted by: rcottrill | May 21, 2012

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Words: Dorothy Ann Thrupp (b. June 20, 1779; d. Dec. 14, 1847)
Music: Bradbury, by William Batchelder Bradbury (b. Oct. 6, 1816; d. Jan. 7, 1868)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: As indicated on the Wordwise Hymns link, there is some question about whether Dorothy Thrupp is the author of the text. John Julian even offers Henry Lyte (who wrote Abide with Me) as an alternative. I’m content that the likely source is Miss Thrupp, but if further information is discovered I’ll be glad to consider it.

In my younger years, I remember this hymn was used in our church when there was a baby dedication ceremony. But it seems to me it was rarely sung otherwise. That’s unfortunate. Simple though it is, it contains both divine promise and personal prayer, both assurance and appeal.

CH-1. Believers belong to the Shepherd (Christ), who has bought us with His own shed blood (I Cor. 6:19-20; I Pet. 1:18-19). We look to Him for protective care and nurture (Ps. 23:1-3). The preparation of a fold may refer to Christ’s teaching about Himself as both the Shepherd and the door of the fold where His sheep are kept (Jn. 10:1-18), or perhaps to His preparation of our heavenly home (Jn. 14:1-3).

CH-1) Saviour, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

CH-2 is an extended prayer. Because we belong to the Lord, we seek His companionship, and His protection. Human beings are appropriately compared to sheep many times in the Word of God. In particular, Dorothy Thrupp has in mind our tendency to stumble into sin, and to go astray. We are so prone to wander away from the right path, and from the Shepherd of our souls (Isa. 53:6; Lk. 15:3-7).

CH-3) assures us of the forgiving heart of God, “poor and sinful though we be.” He is merciful to those who seek Him, with “grace to cleanse, and power to free” (Eph. 1:7; I Jn. 1:9). The author pledges, “Early will we turn to Thee.” This, of course, has its application to children, and the hope that early in life they’ll put their faith in the Saviour. But it could also apply to us as adults, when we seem to lose our way. In that sense, it’s a pledge that we’ll keep short accounts with God, as the saying goes. When we sin, we’ll deal with it as quickly as possible.

CH-4 again seems to have its first appeal to the children for whom Dorothy Thrupp so often wrote. We do a great disservice to children if we assume they cannot understand the gospel. For myself, I trusted Christ as my Saviour on August 14th, 1948, when I was seven years old. My own mother prayed with me, and I certainly grasped my basic need for God’s salvation, and the reason for that need. Christ was from that day forward, my “only Saviour,” my only hope of heaven. And I pray with the hymn writer that I will grow in my devotion to Him, and in my diligence in His service. My prayer for myself, and you is:

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell [settle down and be at home in] in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).

CH-4) Early let us seek Thy favour,
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessèd Lord and only Saviour,
With Thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus!
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

1) What is the most important aspect of the Shepherd’s care to you, personally?

2) Why are those who have come to know and love the Shepherd still so prone to stray from Him?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. I used this song in my wedding. Instead of the traditional wedding march, I walked down the aisle to this tune, then the soloist sang it before the “Who gives this bride. . .” As the years have passed, I have a collection of over 120 sheep, significant of the love I have for my Shepherd.

    • Excellent. Great idea to emphasize the spiritual dimension of a Christian wedding. Sadly, the trend seems to be in the opposite direction, with “You are the wind beneath my wings,” etc. being chosen as wedding music! (Nice song, but this is a wonderful time to give a strong Christian testimony.)


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