Methodist Church

Story behind the song ‘Jesus Loves Me’

“Jesus Loves Me”
“Jesus loves me! This I know For the Bible tells me so Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.”

methodist-Sept2005

ANNA BARTLETT WARNER (1827–1915) and her sister Susan were the unmarried daughters of a prominent New York lawyer who lost his fortune during the 1837 depression.

After Mr Warner moved the family to an old house across the Hudson River from West Point, the sisters opened their home to the cadets and held Sunday School classes. Anna loved writing hymns and she wrote a fresh one each month for her students.

Eager to supplement the family income, the sisters turned to writing novels and children’s books.

Among the 18 books that they wrote together was Say and Seal, the book in which “Jesus Loves Me”, written by Anna, first appeared in 1859. In the story, one of the characters comforted a dying child by singing “Jesus Loves Me”.

In that context, there is another stanza not commonly found in hymnals:

“Jesus loves me! Loves me still Tho’ I’m very weak and ill That I might from sin be free Bled and died upon the tree.”

Later Anna (whose writings are sometimes listed under her pseudonym, Amy Lothrop) published “Jesus Loves Me” as a hymn in her first hymnbook, Original Hymns.

In 1862, William B. Bradbury stumbled across the song’s words and wrote his own tune, the one we sing today.

He also added his own chorus: “Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me.” Within months, this song raced across North America, and eventually all the continents of the world.

In 1971 the song was further revised when Anglican priest David R. McGuire rewrote stanzas 2 and 3 to reflect the story in Matt. 19:13-14, where Jesus gathers the children around him:

“Jesus loves me! This I know As He loved so long ago Taking children on His knee Saying, Let them come to Me.”

After more than a century of evolution, “Jesus Loves Me” became the number one spiritual song in the world.

It has been translated into more languages than any other song.

Missionaries favour its simple and easy-to-remember chorus as a means of explaining the Gospel in a clear, simple way.

Remarkably, a poem from an obscure novel is now one of the best-known hymns in the world.

IN MORE LANGUAGES THAN ANY OTHER SONG

‘After more than a century of evolution, “Jesus Loves Me” became the number one spiritual song in the world. It has been translated into more languages than any other song.’

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