Jesus Loves Me – A Hymn Study


Many Christians around the world teach their children to sing Jesus Loves Me. This song is number 190 in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal. What a wonderful hymn for any age. This famous hymn is worth learning more in depth.

Anna Bartlett Warner and her older sister, Susan, became writers. They wrote books and poems while living on Constitution Island in the State of New York. They were across the river from West Point, and the cadets would come across the river for Bible studies with Anna and Susan at the Warner’s house.

One of the novels Anna wrote included a song. That song from the novel was given music by William Bradbury, who wrote many songs for children. That song, of course, is Jesus Loves Me. Bradbury added the refrain. Throughout the years the hymn has had different verses written, and it has been translated into many different languages.

The Mysteries
As I was researching the hymn, I came across some mysteries. Maybe you would like to see if you can figure them out. Sometimes facts are wrong in books and on websites. It takes time to search them out and see what information is actually correct.

One mystery was the year Anna was born. I found it cited as 1820, 1824, and 1827. That is a lot of years. The one tricky thing is that Anna’s mother’s name was also Anna, so it could get confusing when doing research. I checked on the website for Constitution Island, which has wonderful information about her family and pictures and videos. I also found a picture of her gravestone. Which source do you think is correct and why?

Another mystery is the name for the house Anna lived in. The Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal says they called it “Good Crag.” I have found old pictures which refer to it as “Wood Crag,” and I have found other sources which say it was called “Good Craig.” I haven’t concluded anything on that yet, so maybe you would like to see if you can figure it out.

There are a few more; however, I’ll leave those for now. This hymn has plenty of learning opportunities, so here are some suggested activities.

Language Arts
Can you find the rhyming words in each stanza?

Rhyming patterns: The rhyming words mark the end of a phrase called a line. The first line ends in the word “know.” Assign that line a capital “A.” The next line ends with the word “so.” That rhymes with the first line so it is assigned a capital “A” as well. The third line ends in the word “belong.” That doesn’t rhyme with “know” or “so.” Then that line gets assigned a capital “B.” The last line ends with the word “strong.” That rhymes with “belong,” so give it a capital “B” also. We can say the rhymes scheme for the first stanza is AABB. See if that same pattern is followed for all three stanzas.

Writing: Could you write a new stanza for this song using the AABB rhyming pattern?

Music: Pentatonic Scale
This song was very popular in China. Missionaries loved to teach it wherever they went. One reason it was popular in China is that the tune is pentatonic. If you have a piano or keyboard, play the black keys only. That is pentatonic, which means a five-note scale — only five pitches compared to a major scale which has seven notes. Many songs in China use the pentatonic scale. See if you can figure out how to play Jesus Loves Me using only the black keys on the piano. In the hymnal, the harmony parts are not pentatonic. The cool thing about the pentatonic scale is that all five notes sound good together. See if you can improvise some harmony using only the black keys.

History/Social Studies
Anna and Susan were authors. Was that common for women during that time in history? Were there any other famous women authors during that time?

What is West Point? Can you discover any famous Americans who are associated with West Point?


Find Constitution Island and West Point on a map. How far did the cadets have to row a boat to go study the Bible at the Warner’s home?

Foreign Language
Sing the song in another language or using sign language.

Study the words of the song. What do those words mean? There are a lot of words that are symbolic and can be a bit tricky for very young children. Can you find Bible verses that tell you that Jesus loves you?


This post is republished from an earlier date on the SDA Homeschool Families blog and was written by Lois Barger-Meythaler.

What About Music Lessons?

008In a blog post last year, I told how I tested music educational theories on my boys. This brought up the question about Dr. Moore’s philosophy of “better late than early.” Dr. Moore very clearly speaks against the Suzuki Method of Music Education, primarily because it is designed for starting at a very young age. I wonder if Dr. Moore could have seen how a well-trained Suzuki teacher focuses on the heart and character of the child, whether he would have been a bit more flexible on his evaluation of the method.

In my post-graduate studies, I studied music education from prenatal through senior adult. How do I balance the training I have about early childhood music education and Dr. Moore’s philosophy? Music should be a part of a child’s early childhood, from having a parent singing a lullaby to songs in Sabbath School teaching them that Jesus loves them. Giving a young child opportunities to hear a wide variety of music from around the world in different tonalities and rhythmic meters forms a foundation which they will build on no matter what age they begin formal music learning experiences.

When the Suzuki Method first came to the United States, the method came under heavy criticism. It took a while to adequately train teachers and adapt the method in the United States. For instance, one of the criticisms was that the method did not teach the students to read music. The explanation was that in Japan, all children learned to read music in school, so the private teachers never had to teach music reading. Once this was realized, the teachers in the U.S. began incorporating music reading and the problem was fixed. Also, as more teachers received more training, the reputation for the method improved.

Will formal lessons at a very young age cause the child to get burned out and want to quit music lessons as Dr. Moore indicates? Most people who have quit lessons, no matter what method, did so due to a bad experience during a recital or power struggle with the teacher or parent. I’ve talked with Suzuki trained teachers, as well as parents and students using the Suzuki method, to find out what their experiences have been. I’ve heard of the occasional Suzuki method student who stopped taking lessons, but in each case that I have heard about, the student continued with another instrument.

For example, my oldest son started piano lessons at age three with a Suzuki Method teacher. After a few lessons, his teacher recommended that he wait another year or two. When he started again at the age of five, he did very well. Later, due to reasons other than the teacher or the method, he quit taking piano. He began learning trombone and has done very well. He is now 17 years old and takes trombone lessons. He received top scores in an evaluation by our homeschool co-op’s band director this year.

My other son was three when he asked if he could play cello, but I decided to wait until he was five. He has had two teachers, one just beginning her Suzuki teacher training, and his current teacher who is one of the best Suzuki teachers for cello in our area. As he got older, I watched to see if Dr. Moore’s prediction of burn-out would happen. I began to see less enthusiasm and more frustration around the age Dr. Moore predicts that burnout happens. His teacher informed me this happens with most of her students around that age, no matter how early they began taking lessons, and indicates they are ready to have less parent involvement during lessons and practice time. She wisely had been telling him occasionally that someday she would determine he was ready to come to his lessons without his mom, and that he would be responsible for what he practiced at home without a parent supervising his practice time. When I let her know of his increased resistance to practicing, and that he was saying he wanted to quit playing cello, she took a couple weeks to evaluate him and decided it was time. She has an official “fire your parent” tradition that makes the transition very fun for the student. His increased responsibility and independence improved his attitude immediately.

Recently I talked with my boys about what they remember about starting lessons so young and how they felt about it. They both remember having lots of fun. They both still don’t love to practice, but they enjoy the results of practicing. Yes, even my cellist who was so frustrated about a year ago, now doesn’t even acknowledge that he ever talked about wanting to quit.

For formal music lessons, first find the best teacher you can afford. Ask to observe them teaching lessons. Ask for references, especially if you don’t know someone already in their studio. If they use the Suzuki Method, ask what levels they are certified for teaching, and if they have group lessons and encourage their students to participate in Suzuki Institutes. Make sure they know your expectations for your child. For instance, my son’s trombone teacher asked what my expectations were before I could tell him. He earned bonus points from me in my evaluation of him for that. If you choose to wait until your child is older, they will probably do just fine.

No matter the age your child starts lessons, they will be successful if you keep the experience fun yet challenging. If you feel nervous for them when they are performing, realize that you need to relax. Making mistakes in a recital or concert is part of the learning process for a young musician. Keeping the expectations at the right level gives them the best chance for success. Just like in the rest of homeschooling, keeping the expectations at the appropriate level and the learning engaging creates a much better environment for success.

Unfortunately, I have observed very young music students put under huge amounts of pressure to perform. The demand for perfection was pressed on them from adults, not from the child’s own joy and enthusiasm for the music. In those instances, I have cringed, knowing that the heart of the child is not the concern, but the pride of the adult in the child’s achievement.

As homeschool parents, we feel the pressure to have our children excel academically to prove we are doing our job well. However, when we focus on their heart and character, strive to make learning fun, and love them unconditionally, they may achieve far beyond our expectations.

Adaptability and Banana Bread

Versatility and adaptability are valuable qualities. When DSC_1281my boys show that they can adapt to a new situation or find a new way to use a skill, I’m really happy. No matter if it is on a job, in church, at home, or in a mission field, it is good to have those qualities.

In music, it is easiest to improvise on a well known melody. Knowing the stitches and techniques, a crochet pattern can be improvised. Likewise, it is easier to adapt a curriculum if you know the subject well. Adaptability and versatility require creative thinking and problem solving. So maybe you can give it a try with something familiar.

My mom always used the same banana bread recipe. It was a staple recipe in her kitchen and it is even more so in mine. Thinking back, I don’t think my mom made many adaptations to this recipe. Some recipes are like that. I can’t imagine changing some recipes. I make it just like my mom did. But for some reason, this banana bread recipe has become a challenge to improvise and see what I can do different.

It is the most versatile recipe in my kitchen. I make it as bread, muffins or bars. I made banana muffins using this recipe the morning I was taking baking entries to our county fair and decided to enter them to see how they would rate judged as muffins rather than plain old banana bread. I received a blue ribbon for them and the only thing the judges said in the comments was “Interesting texture”. No kidding, considering they were not technically muffins.

Making the recipe into bars happened when I wanted an “energy bar” type thing. I added chocolate chips to the recipe and baked it in a 9″X13″ baking pan. After they baked I sliced them into bars and put them in re-sealable bags to toss in a backpack or sack lunch.

The first change I made to the recipe, other than omitting the raisins and nuts, was to replace half of the oil with applesauce. I tried getting it down to no oil at all, but it didn’t work well. I have made it with a variety of fruits. The recipe calls for three ripe bananas. Use the bananas that have gotten so ripe no one wants to eat them. It is rare that I have three bananas to use. It seems there are always too few or too many. This recipe is adaptable. Add applesauce or soft/canned pears to add or replace the bananas. I’ve even made it with a fig sauce that I made from our fig trees. One time made the recipe with lemon zest and lemon juice in place of the milk. I’ve added spices sometimes.

Adapting the recipe is simple for me, because I know the consistency of the batter. The only time it doesn’t work is when I forget an ingredient, such as the sugar. One time when I did that, I remembered after the loaves were nearly baked. I pulled the loaves out and sprinkled a generous amount of sugar on the tops and placed the loaves back in the oven. It wasn’t the best batch I’d made, but they were good enough to eat and so I didn’t have to throw the loaves out.

This recipe is used so frequently, make dry mixes of it. I have four wide-mouth, quart-sized canning jars that I measure the dry ingredients into while making a batch in a mixing bowl. I then have only to get a dry mix from the pantry and blend up the moist ingredients to dump in a mixing bowl with the dry mix.

The adaptation of a Recipe

Here are the original ingredients:

2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup floured raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 Tbs. buttermilk
3 ripe bananas
1 egg (may omit)

Mix dry ingredients, blend in shortening as for pie crust.
Add mashed bananas, egg and milk.
Bake in loaf pans at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes

The way I usually make it now:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
5 Tbs. milk
3 ripe bananas

Add chocolate chips, nuts, raisins or other dried fruit
Replace ripe banana with applesauce, ripe pears or something similar

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.
Place oil, milk, and bananas in blender and bend until smooth.
Add the blended ingredients with the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Place in baking pan(s).
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes if baking bread in two small loaf pans or 9″X13″ pan for bars. If making muffins bake for 30 minutes.

The Father of English Hymnody

033What do the following hymns have in common?

Alas, and did my Savior Bleed (aka At the Cross)
Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
Come, Ye that Love the Lord (aka Marching to Zion)
Jesus Shall Reign Where ‘er the Sun
Joy to the World
When I survey the Wondrous Cross

Each of those hymns has been published in over 1200 to 1600 hymnals and each hymn came from the pen of the same hymn writer. Isaac Watts is known as the Father of English Hymnody. Having written over 800 hymns and metrical psalms, the “test of time” for over 300 years has eliminated many. Amazingly, our current hymnal, The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, uses 24 of his texts, the most of any single author.

Isaac Watts was born in 1674 to a family of devout protestants in Southampton England. A bit of historical perspective finds that England is in a process of restoration after a civil war in which religious views were fought over. An outbreak of the plague, in 1665-66 had nearly wiped out the population of London as well as Southampton. And on the heels of that, London had experienced the Great Fire in 1666. The Puritans had been associated with Oliver Cromwell during the civil war and were now despised. They had given up hope of reforming the Anglican Church and were starting to splinter into a number of denominations.

As young Isaac was growing up in a family persecuted for their religious beliefs, and called “Nonconformists” or “Dissenters” since they did not conform to the reestablished Anglican Church. Isaac Watts’ father, also named Isaac, was imprisoned for his religious beliefs several times. His father had a huge impact on the young Isaac. Watts Sr. was careful to teach his children to love God, and that the Bible was the most important book to study.

Education was highly valued in his family. His ability to rhyme verses began when he was quite young. One of the stories told is that young Isaac’s father grew tired of hearing everything said in metrical rhyme and had forbidden his son to rhyme any more. When Isaac forgot his father started to whip him for disobedience when he cried,

O father, do some pity take,
And I will no more verses make.

Another story is told that his mother had found some handwritten poems and doubted her young son could have written them as he claimed. She asked him to write a poem as she watched. He sat down and wrote an acrostic poem of his own name with a depth of theological understanding which convinced his mother of his talent.

Isaac Watts wrote his first metrical psalm after he was complaining about the poor quality of the psalmody they had sung at church. His father challenged him to write something better rather than complain. Isaac wrote it that afternoon and his father took a copy to the church for the evening service. Depending on the source, this happened when he was 15, 16, 18 or 20 years old.

His family’s heritage of standing strong for their beliefs is shown as Isaac Watts gained recognition as a scholar. He turned down full scholarships to elite schools in England, where he would have had to conform to Anglican theology. He did attend excellent protestant schools. He mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and French. He wrote numerous books on various subjects throughout his life and preached many sermons.

Isaac Watts wrote the traditional metrical psalms or psalmody that the churches at that time believed to be the only appropriate use of song to be sung in church. However, he began writing verses which reflected doctrine and other passages of scripture which are called hymns. His congregation accepted these and soon other congregations began to use them also. Prior to this most hymns were written in Latin, which Protestants rejected. This is how he earned the title of The Father of English Hymnody.

Note: This post was originally given as an oral presentation by the author. Sources cited upon request.

Music Festival

DSC_0614A few years ago, I knew that most Seventh-day Adventist conferences have music festivals for junior high school level students. I had been inquiring and discovered the band festival was that year. My oldest son was able to participate as a homeschooled student. One of my friends took him and her daughter, since my youngest would have made it more difficult to be on campus all day, and they stayed at a friend’s house nearby. His overall experience was good. The music wasn’t difficult for him because he was in a good band program at our homeschool co-op. He knew someone else in the trombone section from summer camp and Pathfinder events. He saw other kids he knew from church and Pathfinders, as well as one who came from the conference we had moved from, who was also homeschooled.

Fast forward to this year. Now my youngest was old enough to participate. I started checking and discovered that they had changed the festival to include 5th through 12th grades, and each year it includes choir, band, orchestra, and handbells. They were very welcoming to homeschoolers and were advertising it clearly for homeschooled students as well. My oldest was not interested in going at all. Once he took a look at the band music, he really wasn’t interested, because it was fairly easy. My youngest could sight read it, except for one piece that was very difficult. He also played in the orchestra, which had a bit more difficult music for him. (Next year they will probably limit the students to one group.) The conference subsidizes the festival quite a bit. It cost $35 per student for the festival, which included the music, meals, a room in the dorm, and a t-shirt, and no cost for a sponsor. That is a very good deal!DSC_0615

We had a room in the guest wing of the girls’ dorm. He had a lot of fun playing with his friends from Pathfinders and church. We met other homeschooling families. By talking with them, I discovered that some homeschool families will travel to different Adventist academies for music festivals. Some academies hold special events in other academic areas, such as science, math, and technology. It would have been helpful if the homeschool families could have connected better. It is easy to feel separated when the school kids stick together. Part of my reason for going to the music festival was to expose my son to what a boarding school is like. These events are partially a recruitment anyway. Colleges and universities do the same thing for high school students. I missed the deadline for my oldest to participate at the university, because I hadn’t checked on it soon enough.

All this made me think about our group of Adventist homeschoolers and the relationship with education in the Adventist Church. We have talked about organizing ourselves a bit more occasionally. I would propose that we follow the organization of our church in regards to the divisions, union conferences, and conferences. Then if we had someone from each of those levels be a liaison for that area, we could communicate much better with those who plan events, such as campmeetings and educational events. For example, I live in the North American Division, North Pacific Union Conference, Washington Conference. If those of us living in Washington Conference had one person who would stay in touch with the Conference office, to meet with the education department, and talk with school principals to let them know we would love to participate in a variety of academic activities, I think it would help. How many times do we miss out on communication about special events because we are not in the loop?

It would be interesting to explore the possibilities of how Adventist homeschools could work together with traditional Adventist education. For instance, would it be possible to have homeschooling parents involved in teacher training? I can dream, can’t I? Is it possible, if enough of us wanted to, to have outdoor school for homeschool families at summer camps, science week at an academy or university facility, music festivals, mission trips, Bible camps, math camps, and so on? Would we all want to take advantage of that? Probably not, but if there are enough of us working together, we could figure out what our needs are by regions. Improvement in communication is a very good place to start. A big thank you to the schools and conferences that already have taken steps to include homeschoolers.