Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Jesus Loves me, This I know…

24 Comments


By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdChristlike

One of the most well-known children’s songs throughout the world is “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Somehow that song, like “Amazing Grace”, forms part of the spiritual memory banks of most adults.  The vast majority of baby boomers and builders have gone as children either to Sunday School or Catechism.  As a result, most adults, whether or not they currently attend church, have significant core memories connected with those early experiences.

 

As a teenager, I found church boring and avoided it by golfing and skiing on Sunday mornings.  But as a child, I remember enjoying Sunday School and looking forward to going.  I’ve always liked to sing, and one of my favorite hymns as a child was “Jesus loves me, this I know”.  Even though I did not know Jesus personally, something touched me as I sang that song in Sunday School.  Years later, I still feel deeply moved by this simple song.

 

Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most brilliant and complex intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He wrote volume after massive volume on the meaning of life and faith.  A reporter once asked Dr. Barth if he could summarize what he had said in all those volumes.  Dr. Barth thought for a moment and then said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

chairman_maoWhen Mao Tse Tung attempted to crush the church in China, things seemed very bleak.  In 1972 however, a message leaked out which simply said: “The this I know people are well”.  The Communist authorities did not understand the message.  But Christians all around the world knew instantly that this referred to the world’s most famous children’s hymn.  Miraculously the Chinese Church, instead of being crushed, has boomed under persecution, growing from 1.5 million believers to over 100 million.

 

The author of this amazing little children’s song was Anna Bartlett Warner, sister to the famous 19th century writer, Susan B. Warner.  Susan’s first novel The Wide Wide World was an instant success, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most popular 19th century novel written in North America.  Anna published her own novel Dollars and Cenannabartettwarnerts under the pseudonym “Amy Lothrop”.  Anna and Susan collaborated together on fifteen fiction and children’s books.  Neither sister ever married, so they shared a house on Constitution Island right across from the famous West Point Military Academy.

 

The two sisters took a great interest in the Military Academy in which their uncle Thomas Warner was a chaplain and professor.  As a result, they opened their home to the cadets and held Sunday School classes.  Anna outlived her sickly sister by thirty years, and continued to run a very large Sunday School throughout her life.  It was her invariable custom to write for her students a fresh hymn once a month. “Jesus Loves Me” was one of those monthly West Point hymns.  Anna also gave the song to her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal. In Susan’s book, a Sunday School teacher sings ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to a sick pupil.

Great words without a great tune don’t get very far in the musical world.  Fortunately William Batchelder Bradbury stumbled across the “Jesus Loves Me” words, and wrote the now unforgettable tune.  Thirteen years earlier, Bradbury had written the tune for the “Just as I am” hymn, which everyone nowadays associates with Billy Graham Crusades.  In 1862, Bradbury found the “Jesus loves me” words in a best-selling 19th-williambradburycentury book, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child, John Fox.  Along with his tune, Bradbury added his own chorus “Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus Loves me…”   Within months, this song raced across the hearts of children throughout North America, and eventually all the continents of the world.

 

Even after almost 150 years, “Jesus Loves Me” is still the No. 1 spiritual song in the hearts of children around the world.  Why is this?  I believe that it is because all of us deep down need to know that God loves us.  When I tell unchurched people that Jesus loves them, many of them genuinely thank me.  One lady said: “Great…we can use lots of love”.  A man said: “Thanks…I’m going to need Him some day.”  Whatever situation we are in, all of us need to know that the Lord really loves and cares for each of us.

I loved my Grandpa deeply, even though sometimes he was distant and abrasive.  Grandpa claimed to be an atheist, who had no time for religion.  One day I discovered to my surprise that Grandpa used to be active in a church choir, until his first wife died giving birth to her second child.  Left with two children under age two, he turned bitter and dropped out of church.

 

When Grandpa was in his late 80’s, I was speaking with him about that painful time in his life.  Initially he said that he didn’t want to talk about it, but then he started talking.  First he said that God sure works in mysterious ways.  Then my atheist Grandpa began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” to my three year-old son.  My son began to dance in front of Grandpa, and an amazing catharsis happened for my Grandfather.  Shortly after, my ‘atheist’ grandfather began listening to hymns again.  The next time I visited him, Grandpa spontaneously sang: “Up from the grave He arose!”  Within two years, I took my Grandpa’s funeral, confident that Grandpa had rediscovered that Jesus loved him too.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church  North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)

-award-winning author of  ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

About these ads

Author: Dr Ed Hird

I am the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C., having served there since 1987. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was the Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm05.htm For the past 26 years, I have been privileged to write over 350 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to lead conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Toronto. In order to obtain a copy of the book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', please send a $18.50 cheque to 'Ed Hird', #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. For more info, please click on www3.telus.net/st_simons/nsnews030.html

24 thoughts on “Jesus Loves me, This I know…

  1. That made me cry, Ed. God doesn’t need thunder and lightning, does he? He just knows who He wants.

    Like

    • Well put, Gina. God really does love us. It is wonderful when our heart and mind opens to this truth.

      Blessings, Ed+

      Like

      • Hello Ed, It is nice to visit your blog. It is wonderful that so many people read it. God bless and thanks again for speaking at my dad’s memorial service. I hope to see you again some time in Vancouver or somewhere else here on earth. By then, maybe I will be driving! ~ Meredith

        Like

  2. Lovely! Thanks for sharing this story. My daddy has always been active in church, but was never verbally demonstrative about his faith. He is 90, has a form of Alzheimer’s, and just recently began singing “Jesus loves me” every time my mother visits him . . .

    Like

    • I am sure, Beth, that this touches you and your mother very deeply to hear your father sing that amazing song. Music can go to the depths in remarkable ways.

      In Christ, Ed+

      Like

  3. Pingback: Jesus Loves me, This I know… | Work from home India

  4. Pingback: In Defense of the Forgotten Hymnal « Creative Theology

  5. punctilious post. due one unimportant where I bicker with it. I am emailing you in detail.

    Like

  6. Pingback: Jesus Loves Me – Behind the Music « Dad In The Middle

  7. Pingback: Twitted by dneff

  8. Pingback: Twitted by drmoore

  9. Your review some background of the hymn “Jesus Loves Me” is interesting, and I enjoyed your personal reminiscences as well. (Today is actually the 185th anniversary of Anna Warner’s birth.) However, you erred in one particular. Miss Warner’s song was not written for the Sunday School she led–though it may have been used there. It was written for her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal. A Sunday School teacher in the novel sang it to a sick pupil.

    Like

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story of “Jesus Loves Me.” Anna and Susan Warner are the only two civilians (women too) buried in the Old Cadet Cemetery. My oldest son, Captain Robert Gordon, graduated from West Point in 2002. He played football for Army, and many times I escaped Michie Stadium to visit their grave sites so beautifully positioned facing the Hudson River and Constitution Island. The words to Jesus Loves Me are craved on Anna’s gravestone. Also their home on Constitution Island is a historic preservation (not a restoration) until recently it was open to the public. This year is was closed as the cornerstone is crumbling and is in need of funding for repairs. As a songwriter, I have spent time studying Anna and Susan’s life, made several trips to the Island and have written 4 children’s books (not yet published) and several new songs based upon this most beloved hymn. When I speak to groups I love to tell their story to inspire all of us to know we can leave a holy legacy in simple words of truth…… that transcend time. One of my dreams is to see their story made into a beautiful movie…. like a Hallmark Hall of Fame…… it is so deserving…….so rich and steeped in Godly American history.

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Nancy, for sharing your insightful comments. It must be a privilege to visit their gravesites. Yes, it would be great to see their story made into a movie.

      In Christ, Ed Hird+

      Like

  11. Pingback: Top New Year’s Blog articles for 2010 « Edhird's Blog

  12. Pingback: 200,000 visitors… « Edhird's Blog

  13. Thank you Ed for the effort put into this presentation. This is certainly one of the perrenial hymns of so many of us. Yes, I too am always moved deeply at the sublime truth this song conveys. What a sweet oasis on the journey of life. Grace to you.

    Like

  14. I was a little six year old in 1946 when I was in the audience of Lawrence Welk. He asked me if I had a request and I asked for my favorite song – “Jesus Loves Me”. He wouldn’t do it for that adult audience! Fast forward 66 years and a cool Jazz musician at a Sunday Brunch place here in Blowing Rock, NC asked me the same question. I gave him the same answer. Did you ever hear that sweet melody played with lots of wonderful, cool jazz riffs threading through? Sublime! Every face in the restaurant had a big smile as the realization of what they were hearing hit each person. It was a very special moment and now my all time favorite band leader is Tod Wright!

    Like

  15. Pingback: 250,000 visitors later « Edhird's Blog

  16. Pingback: My top 10 online articles in the past two years « Edhird's Blog

  17. Pingback: Looking back on 2011: My most-widely read online articles « Edhird's Blog

  18. Pingback: My most read articles | Edhird's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,552 other followers