Anna Bartlett Warner wrote the words to Jesus Loves Me. The tune was added in 1862 by William Batchelder Bradbury.

Jesus loves me, this I know

<>-an article for the North Shore News ‘Spiritually Speaking’ column

Ed Hird, Special To North Shore News Published: Friday, October 09, 2009

"Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. (Chorus:) Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so."

<>-- Opening lines from "Jesus Loves Me", written by Anna Bartlett Warner

Anna Bartlett Warner wrote the words to Jesus Loves Me. The tune was added in 1862 by William Batchelder Bradbury.

One of the most well-known children's songs throughout the world is "Jesus Loves Me." Somehow that song, like "Amazing Grace," forms part of the spiritual memory banks of most adults.

As a teenager, I found church boring and avoided it by skiing at Mount Seymour on Sunday mornings. As a child, though, I remember enjoying Sunday School and looking forward to going. I've always liked to sing, and one of my favourite hymns as a child was "Jesus Loves Me." Even though I did not know Jesus personally, something touched me as I sang that song in Sunday School.

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.

The two sisters took a great interest in the West Point 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. It was Susan's invariable custom to write for her students a fresh hymn once a month, which included "Jesus Loves Me." Anna also gave the song to her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal in which 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. 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.

When 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.

This song even touched my Grandpa who had become an atheist after the death of his first wife. When Grandpa was in his late 80s, he suddenly began to sing "Jesus loves me, this I know" to my three-year-old son. Shortly after, my 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 his funeral, confident that Grandpa had rediscovered that Jesus loved him too.

The Reverend Ed Hird

Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC

Anglican Coalition in Canada

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