1 Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
they are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.
2 Jesus loves me he who died
heaven's gate to open wide.
He will wash away my sin,
let his little child come in. [Refrain]
3 Jesus loves me, this I know,
as he loved so long ago,
taking children on his knee,
saying, "Let them come to me." [Refrain]
Psalter Hymnal, 1987
|First Line:||Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so|
|Title:||Jesus Loves Me, This I Know|
|Author:||Anna Bartlett Warner (1859)|
|Meter:||18.104.22.168 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Yes, Jesus loves me|
st. 1 = Eph. 5:2, Jer.31:3
st. 2 = Gal. 2:20
st. 3 = Matt. 18:2-4, Matt. 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17
Anna B. Warner (b. Long Island, NY, 1827; d. Constitution Island, near West Point, NY, 1915) wrote this beloved children's hymn text in 1859. It was published in Say and Seal (1860), a novel Warner wrote in collaboration with her sister Susan, author of another popular children's hymn, “Jesus Bids Us Shine.” In this now-forgotten novel a dying boy, Johnny Fax, is comforted by his church school teacher, who sings to him the four original stanzas of this hymn. Warner and her sister Susan wrote popular novels under the pen names Amy Lothrop and Elizabeth Wetherell. They also taught Bible classes for the cadets at West Point, who were ferried to the Warner home on Constitution Island. After she died, Warner was buried with military honors at West Point in honor of this service. She wrote devotional poetry and compiled two collections: Hymns of the Church Militant (1858) and Wayfaring Hymns, Original and Translated (1869).
Both Anna and Susan Warner's writings are marked by what some judge to be "undistinguished religious sentimentality." But those who are critical of the text's simplicity may do well to remember what the great theologian Karl Barth once said when asked about his most profound theological discovery:
Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
The text has been translated into many other languages. [The 1987 Psalter Hymnal] includes the original stanzas 1 and 2 and adds a stanza derived from David R. McGuire's rewriting of the text, which he prepared for the Canadian Anglican and United Hymn Book (1971).
McGuire (b. St. Catherines, ON, Canada, 1929; d. Richmond Hill, ON, Canada, 1971) was educated at University College and Wycliffe College, both at the University of Toronto. Ordained in the Anglican Church, he served four congregations in Ontario including Church of Christ the King in Etobicoke, Toronto (1959-1969). McGuire was strongly interested in hymnody and was on the committee that produced The Hymn Book (1971), published by two Canadian denominations-the Anglican Church and the United Church. He also edited a collection of contemporary folk hymns, Sing 1(1972).
“Jesus loves me” weaves together some of the most basic truths of the childlike Christian's experience with the Lord: Jesus loves me, Jesus saves me, and Jesus invites me to come to him. The refrain simply emphasizes that we know Jesus' love from the Bible.
A fine children's hymn of testimony to Jesus' love but also appropriate for children of God of all ages.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
This is one of the best-known children's hymns ever written. Through all the many stanzas of this hymn, the opening words are always the same: “Jesus loves me.” The themes of this hymn are the assurance of God's love, and a review of what Jesus did for us.
In 1860, Anna Warner and her sister Susan, under the pen names Amy Lothrop and Elizabeth Wetherell, wrote a two-volume novel called Say and Seal. In it, a sick little boy asks his Sunday school teacher to sing. The teacher obliges by singing the four original stanzas of this hymn. The third of those (second line: “Though I'm very weak and ill”) is usually omitted. Though its theme was pertinent to its setting in the novel, it is irrelevant to the normal context for this hymn today. The other three stanzas by Warner, which are the three most popular of all, have the second lines “For the Bible tells me so,” “Heaven's gate to open wide,” and “Close beside me all the way.”
In 1871, David R. McGuire, who was on the revision committee for the United Church of Canada, wrote two additional stanzas for this hymn in The Hymn Book. They have the second lines “As he loved so long ago” and “Walking with me on my way.” Other stanzas have also been written anonymously. The refrain was written by William B. Bradbury when he composed the tune.
JESUS LOVES ME was composed by William B. Bradbury for this text and published in his Sunday school song collection, The Golden Shower, in 1862. The tune is also called CHINA in some hymnals because it is reported to be a favorite among missionaries there. The tune is a simple, pentatonic one, and is widely known. It works best with simple accompaniment.
This hymn is often used as a children's hymn, but it can also be used by all ages as a hymn of assurance. It also works well in medley with hymns of a similar theme. For example, “Three Sunday School Hymn Settings for Organ” includes JESUS LOVES ME in medley with STORIES OF JESUS. A gospel style choral setting of “Jesus Loves Me” for children and adult choirs includes two other children's songs. This short setting of “Jesus Loves Me” for handbells is lively and upbeat.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org