Jesus Loves Me – Behind the Music

In the following post from Ed Hird’s blog, he looks at the history behind one of the most famous children’s hymns of all time.

http://edhird.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/jesus-loves-me-this-i-know/

I enjoyed reading it so much, and learning about the history of this simple song, that I thought I would post it here on Dad in the Middle.  While I was doing some online research for this article (thinking I might be able to expand on Mr. Hird’s article) I found two things.  #1 – There was not a lot of additional information about the song (kudos to Mr. hird for being thorough), and #2 – I found an amazing story about this song, a child and her father.  I wish I still had the link, and I am sure I will butcher this paraphrase, but here was story:

One day, a little girl went to see her father to ask him some questions for a class project.  She asked him what he thought great astronomers might say to people when they were asked about astronomy.  He answered “twinkle, twinkle little star.”  She asked him a similar question about what great theologians might say when asked about God.  He responded, “Jesus Loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

I think that story reosnated with me because its profound truth.  In a simple kids’ hymn that has been sung millions of times in churches all over the world are some of the greatest theological truths of all time.  Jesus Love Me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.  Jesus loves me.  God is love (1 John 4:16) and we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).  God so loved the world that he came to earth took on human flesh and died on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).  And, God doesn’t just love us collectively, he loves me individually and went to extreme measures to prove it (John 15:13).   And, how do we know all of this, because the Bible tells us so (John 20:30-31).  God’s word endures forever (Psalm 19:19) and every word of it is true (2 Timothy 3:16).  Now, that’s a lot of theology packed into one line of a children’s hymn!

The following is my two year old demonstrating that you don’t even need a grasp of the entire English language to appreciate this song (or pants for that matter as this spirited rendition of the song proves!):

And here is a version from Jennifer Knapp which I just found the other day and have fallen in love with.  This is definitely worth a listen!

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad that you found the article on ‘Jesus Loves me’ to be helpful. Feel free to dial into other similar articles at http//www.edhird.wordpress.com

    In Christ Jesus,
    Ed Hird+
    -author of ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
    http://www.battleforthesoulofcanada.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks for your thoughts relating to the love of the Lord, and Anna Warner’s hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.” You reference Ed Hird’s notes on the background of the hymn. They are interesting, but incorrect on one particular. Miss Warner’s hymn was not written for her Sunday School. It was written at the request of her sister to be included in the story of a novel she was writing called Say and Seal. God bless.

  3. Robert, I took your helpful reference to ‘Say and Seal’ and included it in a revised version of my article which can be read at http://edhird.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/jesus-loves-me-this-i-know

    In your posting on my blog, Robert, you said: “Miss Warner’s song was not written for the Sunday School she led–though it may have been used there…” I would value your historical sources for this claim. As Miss Warner wrote one Sunday School Hymn a month for her West Point Academy Cadet Sunday School student, it is hard to imagine that her hymn “Jesus Loves Me’ was not part of this monthly production for her Sunday School class. Perhaps it served a double purpose: for the book and for the Sunday School class. I would value hearing what you discover from your historical sources.

  4. Here is a reference for the ‘one hymn a month for her Sunday School Students’ in Christianity Today:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2004/marapr/4.14.html

    “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.”

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