The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Saviour, When In Dust To Thee

Alternate Titles: Litany, Hear Thou Our Solemn Litany

For Lent

Words: Robert Grant, 1815

Music: Aberystwyth, Madrid, Spanish Chant

Meter: 77 77 77 77

Source: Sir Robert Grant, Sacred Poems (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1868), pp. 4-6.




Saviour, when in dust to Thee
Low we bow th' adoring knee;
When repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes:
O by all Thy pains and woe,
Suffered once for man below,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our solemn Litany !


By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of sore distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread mysterious hour
Of the insulting tempter's power;
Turn, O turn, a favouring eye,
Hear our solemn Litany!


By the sacred griefs that wept
O'er the grave where Lazarus slept;
By the boding tears that flowed
Over Salem's loved abode;
By the anguished sigh that told
Treachery lurked within Thy fold;
From Thy seat above the sky
Hear our solemn Litany !


By Thine hour of dire despair,
By Thine agony of prayer,
By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
Piercing spear and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
O'er the dreadful sacrifice,
Listen to our humble cry !
Hear our solemn Litany !


By Thy deep expiring groan,
By the sad sepulchral stone,
By the vault whose dark abode
Held in vain the rising God!
O! from earth to heaven restored,
Mighty reascended Lord,
Listen, listen to the cry
Of our solemn Litany !

Sheet Music "Hollingside" by J. B. Dykes from Charles S. Robinson, The New Laudes Domini (New York: The Century Co., 1892), No. 660, p. 272.


Also found in The Book of Christmas Hymns (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1868), No. 42, pp. 99-100, which is identical except for line 2 of verse 1: “Low we bend the adoring knee.”

Note from John Julian, The Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, 1907)

Saviour, when in dust to Thee. Sir R. Grant. [Lent.]

1st printed in the Christian Observer, 1815, p. 735, in 5 St. of 8 1., and entitled " Litany." In 1835 it was included in Elliott's Psalms & Hymns, No. 105, with a protest in the Preface against its mutilation, as found in some collections then in circulation, and the declaration that the text in that collection was pure. This protest was probably leveled at T. Cotterill, who gave 4 Stanzas, very much altered, as "By Thy birth and early years," in his Sel. in 1819.

The only change in Elliott's Psalms & Hymns from the Christian Observer, 1815, was in st. iii. 1. 5, where "anguish'd sigh" was altered to "troubled sigh." Grant's hymns were republished by [his brother] Lord Glenelg in 1839 as Sacred Poems. This hymn is at p. 6. This text differs from the preceding, but is claimed by Lord Glenelg to be "a more correct and authentic version." (Preface.)

It is this text which is reprinted in Lord Selborne's Bk. of Praise, 1862; and in the Lyra Brit., 1867, as the original. In addition to its use in the Christian Observer, Elliott's Psalms & Hymns, and the Sacred Poems, forms of the text, it is also in many hymnals as :—

1. By Thy birth and early years. In Cotterill Selections., 1819, and others, as above.

2. By Thy birth, and by Thy tears. In several hymn-books.

3. Father, when in dust to Thee. In a few American collections.

4. Jesus, when in prayer to Thee. In Skinner's Daily Service Hymnal, 1864.

In addition to its very extensive use in these varying forms, it has also been tr. into several languages. That in Latin, by R. Bingham, in "his Hymno. Christ. Lat., 1871, begins "Quando genua flectentes." [J. J.]

        Source: John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, (1892, 1907).

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