Shepherd of Tender Youth

On Sunday, we had our annual testimony service.  In preparation for this service, everyone in the congregation can prepare a testimony of God’s working over the last year, and select a hymn for us to sing (which may or may not go along with their testimony).  On the day, each person gives their testimony and then we sing their song (we usually only have time for one verse per person).

This year, since they were making an announcement as part of their testimony, my son and daughter-in-law chose “Shepherd of Tender Youth” for their hymn.  This hymn is attributed to Clement of Alexandria, who wrote it around 200 AD.  He converted from paganism, and wrote a book drawing on his knowledge of pagan beliefs and appealing to pagans to turn to Christ.  He also wrote against the asceticism that was already beginning to grow among some Christians, perhaps due to the heresy of Gnosticism, and in favour of marriage.  We don’t know if he was married, but his writings and this hymn suggest that he may have been married and had children.

This is the oldest hymn we have for which the author is known.

The hymn was translated by Henry M Dexter, a 19th century Congregationalist minister in New England.  He wrote extensively on Congregationalism, the New England Puritans, and Baptist history.

We sing this hymn to the tune BRAUN by Johann G Braun.  Little is known about him, but he apparently was born in Bohemia and died in Hungary.  The arrangement in the video below is similar to the one we sing.

Shepherd of tender youth,
Guiding in love and truth
Through various ways;
Christ our triumphant King,
We come Thy Name to sing
And here our children bring
To join Thy praise.

Thou art our holy Lord,
O all subduing Word,
Healer of strife.
Thou didst Thyself abase
That from sin’s deep disgrace
Thou mightest save our race
And give us life.

Thou art the great High Priest;
Thou hast prepared the feast
Of holy love;
And in our mortal pain,
None calls on Thee in vain;
Help Thou dost not disdain,
Help from above.

Ever be Thou our guide,
Our shepherd and our pride,
Our staff and song;
Jesus, Thou Christ of God,
By Thine enduring Word
Lead us where Thou hast trod,
Make our faith strong.

So now, and till we die,
Sound we Thy praises high
And joyful sing;
Children and the glad throng
Who to Thy church belong,
Unite to swell the song
To Christ, our King.

At­trib­ut­ed to Cle­ment of Al­ex­an­dria (Ti­tus Fla­vi­us Cle­mens), cir­ca 200
Trans. from Greek by Henry M. Dexter, 1821-1890
Music:  Jo­hann G. Braun, 1675

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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