Two years later, having read the poem in the novel, William Batchelder Bradbury put the poem to music. In addition he added the familiar chorus, “Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
The following is the original poem, recited to the boy in Warner’s novel:
"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 diedHeaven'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 stayClose beside me all the way.
Then his little child will take
Up to heaven for his dear sake."
In subsequent years, other stanzas were added and, often, the reference to the ill child is left out to spare children any distress in hearing these words
In recent history, we can find reference to this precious song joining two cultures. In 1943, John F. Kennedy’s PT boat was rammed and sunk off the Solomon Islands. Kennedy and the other survivors of PT 109 were found by two islanders, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who rode the PT boats in search of any survivors. They remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” with the Marines aboard the boats, a chorus they had learned from missionaries to their island. A wonderful, unifying sound connecting the two cultures.
We may think that a poem written before the Civil War would hold no interest for fans of contemporary music. Yet, one of America’s most famous vocalists chose to sing this song on-stage. Just last year, February 9, 2012, Whitney Houston and Kelly Price sang “Jesus Loves Me” together in what proved Whitney’s final performance. She died two days later in a Beverly Hills hotel.
Many a soldier has reported singing this little hymn under fire in the trenches or running for his life while bombs dropped overhead.
Children all over the world sing this hymn with delight and cheer, remembering that it is true, “Jesus loves me!” May we never forget that simply profound truth, whether under fire, threat of death, or with unspeakable joy…Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so! Let Jesus prove it to you!
****Have a terrific weekend!