“I Washed My Hands This Morning”

"…Who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…" (Ps. 24:3-4)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages everyone, including children, to have clean hands and a pure heart that they might stand in God’s holy place is "I Washed My Hands This Morning." The text was written by Mrs. Lucinda M. Beal Bateman (1843-????). Under the penname of "Grace Glenn," this author is perhaps best known for the hymn "Savior, Grant Me Rest and Peace." The tune for "I Washed My Hands This Morning" was composed by James Holmes Rosecrans (1844-1926). Rosecrans also provided tunes for such hymns as "O ‘Twas Wonderful Love," "One Step at a Time," and "There Is a Habitation." The children’s song "I Washed My Hands This Morning" was published in 1886 by the Fillmore Brothers Music House of Cincinnati, OH. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie.

     The song reminds us of the need to make sure that all our members are instruments of righteousness.

I. Stanza 1 focuses on the hands
"I washed my hands this morning, O very clean and white,
And lent them both to Jesus To work for Him till night."
 A. Washing the hands symbolizes the idea of being holy: 1 Pet. 1:15-16
 B. Just as we wash our hands clean and white, so God wants us to keep our souls spotless before Him: 2 Pet. 3:14
 C. Then we must lend our hands to work for Jesus and do with our might what our hands find to do: Eccl. 9:10

II. Stanza 2 focuses on the ears
"I told my ears to listen Quite closely all day through
For any act of kindness Such little hands can do."
 A. God wants us to use our ears in His service too: Matt. 13:16
 B. Therefore, we should use our ears to listen to His will: Matt. 17:5
 C. And we should listen for any acts of kindness that our hands can do, even giving a cup of cold water: Matt. 10:42

III. Stanza 3 focuses on the eyes
"My eyes are set to watch them About their work or play,
To keep them out of mischief, For Jesus’ sake all day."
 A. We must guard our eyes: Prov. 4:25
 B. This is important in both work and play because the eye is the light of the body: Matt. 6:22-23
 C. Therefore, our eyes need to watch our hands (and feet) so that we do not get into mischief or evil: Prov. 6:16-18

     CONCL.: The chorus focuses on the feet.
"Little feet, be careful Where you take me to;
Anything for Jesus Only let me do."
Songs such as this used to be commonly sung during children’s Bible classes and vacation Bible schools, and maybe still are in some places.  Whether they are appropriate for a public worship service or not will have to be decided by each individual and congregation. One would be hard pressed to say that it would be sinful, but in many instances some might conclude that it would not be expedient. Whatever view I may have of that matter, whether I am young or old it is still good to think about the spiritual ramifications and applications of the time when "I Washed My Hands This Morning."


5 thoughts on ““I Washed My Hands This Morning”

  1. I am so happy to find this song. I’ll soon be 75yrs. old and I think my mother used to sing this to the children. I feel that there are a lot of little children today who need these teachings.

  2. I am 86 and so happy to see the first song I
    learned in Sunday School. I wasn’t sure I had remembered the words correctly. Thank you.

  3. My mom still has a copy of this song which sang in church when she was 5-6 years old in 1917-1918. She is now 101 and can still sing the song. Her older sister who passed away at 103 also sang the song in church around 1910.

  4. Thanks for taking time to post this article. For years I sang this song with my own children and with my Bible classes too, but I never knew who wrote it.


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