Lenten Hymns: Savior, When in Dust to Thee

As I said a couple of days ago, I have a deep, abiding love of Lenten hymns. The poetry is so beautiful, and I could sit and ponder the language all day (apologies to all non-English majors out there). I mean, look at the fourth verse. Where else do you see a word like sepulchral? I can’t help adoring these beautiful words. I invite you to read through (or listen to) this beautiful Lenten hymn.

Lutheran Service Book 419

Savior, When in Dust to Thee

Verse 1

Savior, 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 us below,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

Verse 2

By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of deep distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread, mysterious hour
Of th’ insulting tempter’s pow’r,
Turn, O turn a fav’ring eye;
Hear our penitential cry!

Verse 3

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 sigh;
Hear our penitential cry!

Verse 4

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 heav’n restored,
Mighty, reascended Lord,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!

Back to that word in the 4th verse: sepulchral. If you’re having trouble with that word, it’s ok. We don’t use it. I never say it unless I’m singing this hymn. But maybe you’ve used a similar word: sepulcher (pronounced seh-pull-kur). Sometimes we use that word referring to a tomb or burial place. Again, it’s not used very often. But that stone in the verse, the sepulchral stone, is the one that sealed Jesus in the tomb. It’s the one that was moved aside when the women came early that first Easter morning. And we now call Jesus our Rock.

About the Author
Stephanie Pittock is the Director of Christian Education at Christ Lutheran Church in Fort Worth. She and her husband, Rev. Travis Pittock (pastor of Christ Lutheran), have been serving together in ministry since their marriage in 2001.

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