Someone once asked a scholarly Bible teacher to summarize the Gospel message in a few lines. He quickly replied:
This beloved hymn, Jesus Loves Me, beautifully sums up the entire Gospel. Almost every Christian child and adult can recite at least the first stanza (there are actually three), but did you know this well-loved song actually began life as a poem in a best-selling book?
In the mid 19th century, sisters Anna and Susan Warner lived in New York not far from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The sisters knew the U.S. was headed for war—and that many of the young men studying at West Point would die on the battlefield. So they offered to teach Sunday school classes for the cadets to introduce them to Jesus. Their classes continued for 40 years!
When their father, a well-known lawyer, passed away, the sisters needed to supplement their meager income so they began writing novels. One of Susan’s books, Say and Seal (1860), featured a poem by a character, Mr. Linden, who comforted a dying child, Johnnie Fax. Anna wrote the text of the poem in collaboration with her sister.
The book was a national best seller, but it is the poem that lives on today—now a song with music by Dr. William Bradbury. Jesus Loves Me is sung all over the world. It is one of the first songs that missionaries often teach new converts, no matter what their age, because of the simple foundational truths it proclaims.
The Warner sisters willed their home to West Point and today it is a national shrine. They were buried there with full military honors in recognition of their spiritual contribution to the lives of young officers—and for the simple, enduring song they wrote.