Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me,
Bless thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be thou near me,
Watch my sleep till morning light.
All this day thy hand has led me,
And I thank thee for thy care;
Thou hast clothed me, warmed and fed me;
Listen to my evening prayer.
Mary L Duncan (1814-1840)
It is clear that in her short life Mrs Mary Duncan was a great inspiration to all who knew her through her ‘fine intellect and lovable character’. She live in the Scottish country parish of Cleish, and wrote this hymn for her children in 1839. It was published by her mother after her death in her Memoir and in 1842 in Hymns for my Children. Some of the reason for her influence shines through this simple Evening Prayer. This is not the only hymn to have the child calling itself a ‘little lamb’, but in this hymn it is the only note that strikes false. Mary Duncan was to die in her twenties a year after writing this hymn.
‘Shipston’ is an arrangement of the tune of a Warwickshire ballad, and well suited in its simplicity for these words.