Is "Jesus Loves Me" a Song for Children?

The song titling this article, written by Anna Warner in 1860, has been a favorite of children for generations. Because of the beauty of its tune and the ease of its words, it has often been the first song learned by a child. Unfortunately, there is a problem with the perception of this song. The song itself is wonderful, and its message to children precious; it is with adult responses to the song that the problem lies.

I have heard song leaders get up to lead this song and make the disclaimer that they are going to “sing one for the kids,” as though for an adult to sing the song would be somehow silly or beneath one. I have seen adults who will belt out the words to their favorite songs barely open their mouths when this song is sung, apparently embarrassed to be seen singing a “kids song” in public. Such attitudes and approaches are shameful and show a terrible lack of understanding of both the song and the purpose of singing.

This beautiful song is a wonderful tool to teach children about the love of Christ, but this is not a song for children ONLY. Though the words are simple, the concepts of this song are deep and should be loved and bring joy to the faces of all who sing them. Consider the words of this song as they are found in our songbook: Church Gospel Songs and Hymns and the depth of emphasis they present for the Christian.

Verse 1:

Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so;

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Gal. 5:8)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 19:14)

Verse 2:

Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide;

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mat. 16:18)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

He will wash away my sin, Let his little child come in.

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 18:3)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Verse 3:

Jesus, take this heart of mine, Make it pure and wholly thine;

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phi. 4:8)

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (2 Pet. 1:5-7)

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit. 2:14)

Thou hast bled and died for me; I will henceforth live for Thee.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. (1 Pet. 2:21)

Jesus Loves Me is a beautiful song, but it should mean even more to the Christian than it should to the child. It should be sung with all of the joy of Victory in Jesus, all of the comfort of ‘Til the Storm Passes By, and all of the determination of I’ll Never Forsake My Lord. No Christian should ever be ashamed of singing this song, because it embodies the greatest sentiments that must drive all Christians: the love of Christ, the salvation available through his blood, and the dedication of service to him.

Let us never consider this to be just a children’s song.

Comments 1

  1. Not to mention, that in some ways, this song can’t apply to children who are still “safe,” the way it does to those who’ve chosen to become Christians. Good article! Mom

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