Keeping the Hymns Close By

Jesus Loves Me

Author – Anna B. Warner, 1820 – 1915
Composer – William B. Bradbury, 1816 – 1868
Written in 1860

And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them. Mark 10:6

Anna and Susan Warner were highly educated and deeply devoted Christian young women who lived in a lovely townhouse in New York City where their father, Henry Whiting Warner, was a successful lawyer. The “Panic of 1837” wrecked the family’s finances, forcing them to move into a ramshackle Revolutionary War-era home on Constitution Island on the Hudson River, right across from the Military Academy at West Point.

After the death of their widower father, the Warner sisters were left with a meager income and of necessity turned to serious literary writing. They began writing poems and stories for publication. Their careers resulted in 106 publications, eighteen of them co-authored.
One of their most successful joint projects was a novel titled Say and Seal in which a little boy named Johnny Fox is dying. His Sunday School teacher, John Linden, comforts him by taking him in his arms, rocking him, and making up a little song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”

The novel became a best seller and when hymnwriter William Bradbury read the words of John Linden’s little song (written by Anna), he composed a childlike musical score to go along with them. “Jesus Loves Me,” soon became the best-known children’s hymn on earth.

Numerous stories are told by missionaries of the universal appeal this hymn text has had with children in every culture. It is often one of the first hymns taught to new converts in foreign lands.

Dr. William Bradbury, the composer of the music for the text, was one of the important contributors to the development of early gospel hymnody in this country. He was involved with the publishing of fifty-nine collections of sacred and secular music. Bradbury composed the music for “Jesus Loves Me’ in 1861 and personally added the chorus to the four stanzas. It appeared in its present form in 1862. Other hymns by William Bradbury include “He Leadeth Me” (March 2019 Hymn of the Month),
“Just As I Am”, (October 2016 Hymn), and “The Solid Rock” (May 2015 Hymn).

For forty years, Anna and Susan conducted Bible classes for cadets at West Point, and both were buried with full military honors. They are the only civilians buried in the military cemetery at West Point. To this day, their home on Constitution Island is maintained by West Point as a museum to their memory.

Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson
Taken from 101 Hymn Stories Copyright © 1982, 2012 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Anna Warner

Anna Warner

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus Loves Me