Jesus loves me
with JESUS LOVES ME (CHINA)
Text: Origins. This hymn was originally part of a story written by Anna Bartlett Warner (1827-1915) and her sister, Susan Warner, from Say and Seal, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1860 | Fig. 1), pp. 115-116. The hymn is credited to Anna in other sources. In the context of the story, a sick boy, Johnny, is being comforted by his teacher, Mr. Linden, who offers these words to the child, thus the words relating to weakness, illness, and even the promise of heaven.
Text: Adaptation. Some modern hymnals utilize a revised text by David McGuire (1929-1971), produced for The Hymn Book (1971 | Fig. 2) of the Anglican Church and United Church of Canada. McGuire’s version shifts the focus away from illness and heaven, and instead offers assurances of Jesus’ love during our earthly journeys. The second stanza alludes to the story of Jesus and the children in Mark 10:13-16, while the third reflects ideas expressed in John 15:9-17 and 1 John 2:9-11.
Tune. This poem was set to music by William Bradbury (1816-1868) for his Golden Shower of S.S. Melodies (1862 | Fig. 2). In Bradbury’s collection, he kept all four of Warner’s stanzas, but altered the final two lines to make the promise of heaven conditional, a change that may or may not align with some theological convictions. He also added the familiar refrain. Bradbury’s tune is usually called JESUS LOVES ME, but in some collections is dubbed CHINA, reportedly because of its favor among missionaries to China.
by CHRIS FENNER
for Hymnology Archive
12 July 2018
Anna Bartlett Warner & Susan Warner, Say and Seal (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1860).
“Jesus loves me” at Hymnary.org:
J.R. Watson, “Jesus loves me,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology: