Jesus Loves Me

Anna Warner, 1820 -1915

Jesus loves me! this I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to him belong; They are weak, but he is strong.

This simple children's song has its high-minded critics who call it schmaltz. Bless them. May they someday learn ...

This same song has been memorialized by an eminent scholar .... One day the aging Karl Barth was asked a "deep" question. Would he—-could he—summarize the essence of his theological discoveries?

Barth had a ready response: "Jesus loves me! this I know. For the Bible tells me so." The first couplet of a children's song crisply condensed his lifelong journey in faith.

The song itself was first published a century before Barth's citation, and even then the words were written as a response— to a dying boy's request of his Sunday school teacher: "Sing." Not that this was a flesh-and-blood death. The sickly Johnny was a character in a popular but now long-forgotten novel, tided Say and Seal, coauthored by Anna Warner and her sister Susan. In this fictional world the impromptu lullaby "Jesus Loves Me" calmed the feverish child and introduced the reader to the assuring words now sung around the globe by children of all ages.

It takes a child's heart to appreciate this song, just as it takes a child's heart to know the heart of our loving God. Jesus made it clear: "Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it" (Mark 10:15).

My friend Elsie recently spent a warm summer afternoon as a volunteer visitor in a hospital long-term-care unit. Intent on delivering inspiration to one particular woman, she dressed in a bright dress, bought a handful of flowers, and wore a smile. These visual signs of cheer did not dispel the gloom in the patient's room. "Nothing could be said to cheer her up," Elsie remembers. Until..."I began to sing softly, "Jesus loves me! this I know,... Little ones to him belong... .Yes, Jesus loves me!"

And a second verse-—-not part of Warner's original lineup: "Jesus loves me! He will stay / Close beside me all the way...."

Elsie continues: "When I started, she became very quiet. And with the last note, she could focus on hope. We talked of God's wonderful love for each of us and the hope of eternal life. After a short prayer, it was evident that peace had filled her heart."

In their book Songs for Renewal, Janet Janzen and Richard Poster tell of a man dying after a long battle with cancer. Knowing his hour was at hand, he started singing Warner's lullaby "and praying for God to receive his spirit."

Jesus loves me! He who died Heaven's gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, Let his little child come in.

Janzen continues, "In the early hours of the morning he was indeed welcomed into the arms of Jesus."1 Like a child. Like the children of another age, as described by the evangelist: "And [Jesus] took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:16).

In the words of another sentimental song: "Jesus loves the little children." All the children.Young and old. Healthy or feeble. He loves you. Are you child enough to claim it?

Lord, I want to know your love for me--not just on an intellectual level. Allow me to feelemotionallythe assurance of your love. That means I have to become a child at heart? I'm not sure I know what that means, but . . . work your love in me.


From the book: "Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns" by Evelyn Bence

There is indeed a "spirit in man" and it does go back to God at death [Ecc.12:7].

It does not think, act, do, all by itself, but it is the CD recording of your character without sin. God keeps it safe until the day of the resurrection, when the saints will be raised to immortal life, with a glorified body, and the "spirit" character united with it.

The Passover time reminds us Jesus loves me, and YOU!

Keith Hunt