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.
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.
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.
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?
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.