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"Songs of Faith: Part 4 - Jesus Loves Me" 1/17/24

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Anna Barrett Warner could not have guessed that the poem she wrote in 1859 would make such an impact. But today the song Jesus Loves Me is beloved by young & old alike.

Anna had written the song for a scene in her sister's novel Say and Seal  - where a dying child is comforted by his Sunday School teacher with the words of the song. The version in the book is not well known since it was intended to be read not sung.

Two years later, baptist hymn writer William Bradbury read the novel and was inspired to put the song to music. He chose a simple pentatonic (five note) scale and added the chorus, taking the phrases directly from the first verse of the poem. Bradbury first published the song in Bradbury's Golden Shower of S.S. Melodies: A new collection of  hymns and tunes for the Sabbath school. Most of that 'Golden Shower' of Sunday School Songs has long been forgotten, but his adaptation of Anna's work has remained very popular due to its simple tune and profound hope-filled message.

Below are the lyrics as they first appeared in the novel Say and Seal

Jesus loves me—this I know,


For the Bible tells me so:


Little ones to him belong,—


They are weak, but he is strong.



Jesus loves me—he who died


Heaven's gate to open wide;


He will wash away my sin,


Let his little child come in.



Jesus loves me—loves me still,


Though I'm very weak and ill;


From his shining throne on high,


Comes to watch me where I lie.



Jesus loves me—he will stay


Close beside me all the way.


Then his little child will take


Up to heaven for his dear sake.

Yes, the Bible does indeed tell us about the love of Jesus.  A love expressed towards little children and great sinners. Indeed the whole point of history is to reveal the love of God in Christ for we are told that the very purpose for which Christ came was and is "to the praise of his glorious grace" (Ephesians 1:5-6).

This love of Christ  was most fully and completely displayed upon the cross where He bore the sins of the world so that whoever believes in him might sing "Jesus' love me - he who died, heaven's gate to open wide,* he will wash away my sin, let his little child come in". 

Is this your song, the song of your heart? 

Do you rejoice and rest in His love today?

Now then, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 

'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39).

This kind of love is worth singing about.

*The lyrics "he who died, heaven's gate to open wide" don't imply that Jesus' opens heaven to any and everyone regardless of what they believe. Our Lord Jesus said "I am the door," (John 10:7) and Heaven's gate is not open for those who refuse to enter through Him. In the context, the song is referring to Christ opening the door for the little child, who is coming to Christ, believing that Jesus 1) will forgive him,  2) will not abandon him even though he is sick and dying. And the song affirms, with Scripture, that He will 'wash away my sins and let his little child come in'. Indeed, the love of Christ is so great that he says "All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out"  (John 6:37). Come, then by the grace of God and you will NOT be cast out, he will stay "close beside you all the way".


Grace & Peace,

Matt

...

Matthew Deneault

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