Jesus Loves the Little Children

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Jesus Loves the Little Children - The Song
The song Jesus Loves the Little Children has been listed as a hymn, a prayer, and a nursery rhyme. It is one of the first songs small children learn in church, perhaps second only to Jesus Loves Me. Most children and adults know the words to the chorus:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

The tune was written by George Frederick Root as an 1864 Civil War tune titled “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching.” Later the words of “Jesus Love the Little Children” were written for the tune by one of Root’s favorite lyricists, Clare Herbert Woolston.

Jesus Loves the Little Children - The Writers
Root (1820-1895), the composer of the tune for “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts. He studied in Boston, New York, and Paris. He became an established music educator and composer, noted for sacred and patriotic music. Among his credits are “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” “The Shining Shore,” and “The First Gun Is Fired” which was written in April 1861 after the firing on Fort Sumter.

In 1853, with William Bradbury, Root established the New York Institute for “affordable instruction and especially quality teachers of music.” The Institute was in business until 1871 when it was destroyed by fire. Named after George Frideric Handel, Root died at his summer home in Bailey Island, Maine at the age of 75. In 1970, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

There is little information about Chicago-born C. Herbert Woolston (1856-1927). However, the songwriter is said to have been inspired by Matthew 19:14 where Jesus says, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” In this verse, the disciples were afraid the children would bother Jesus, but Jesus wants children to come to him.

Jesus Loves the Little Children - The Faith
The sentiments expressed in Woolston’s lyrics for “Jesus Loves the Little Children” are drawn from Scripture and reflect reality. “Faith is natural to a child, for complete physical dependence is accompanied by absolute emotional confidence,” wrote Christian educator Lois LeBar in her classic book, Children in the Bible.

While children come to Jesus readily, there is more hesitancy for adults to respond. Grown-ups seem to lose the innocent faith and trusting nature that children possess. Yet in Matthew 18:4-6, Jesus invites us to come to Him “like little children” and says “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

If you’ve been called to love the little children like Jesus, please consider the opportunity to sponsor a child through our friends at Compassion International.

Learn About Jesus Loves Me


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