“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

"Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to suffer little children and forbid them not to come to Jesus is "Jesus Loves the Little Children."  The text was written by Clarence (or Clare) Hubert Woolston, who was born in 1856 at Chicago, IL. Very little information is available about him except that he was a preacher in Chicago and published a book entitle Seeing Truth in 1910. Apparently, the words for this children’s song were produced around 1913 to fit an already existing tune that had been composed in 1864 by George Frederick Root (1820-1895). The melody began life as a Civil War song entitled "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching" or "The Prisoner’s Hope" with words also by Root.

     Here are the lyrics of Root’s original song.
1. "In my prison cell I sit, Thinking, Mother, dear, of you,
And our bright and happy home so far away;
And the tears, they fill my eyes ‘Spite of all that I can do,
Though I try to cheer my comrades and be gay."
2. "In the battle front we stood, When their fiercest charge they made,
And they swept us off a hundred men or more;
But before we reached their lines, They were beaten back dismayed,
And we heard the cry of victory o’er and o’er."
3. "So within the prison cell We are waiting for the day,
That shall come to open wide the iron door.
And the hollow eye grows bright, And the poor heart almost gay,
As we think of seeing home and friends once more."
Chorus: "Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,
Cheer up, comrades, they will come.
And beneath the starry flag we shall breathe the air again,
Of the free land in our own beloved home."

     It was common in the late 1800s and early 1900s to provide religious words for popular secular melodies. Root himself produced several hymns, such as "Why Do You Wait, Dear Brother" and "Come to the Savior, Make No Delay," but he also penned many popular secular songs, such as "The Battle Cry of Freedom," "Just Before the Battle, Mother," and "The First Gun Is Fired," which was written in April of 1861 right after the firing on Ft. Sumter began the American Civil War. Woolston, whom Root once called one of his favorite lyricists, died in 1927. It has been said that "Jesus Loves the Little Children" is one of the first songs that small children learn in church, perhaps second only to "Jesus Loves Me."  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the chorus alone appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today the chorus may be found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise (where it is listed simply as "Traditional") edited by Alton H. Howard; in addition to the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song encourages children to give their lives to the service of Jesus Christ as early as possible.

I. Stanza 1 says that Jesus calls the children
"Jesus calls the children dear, ‘Come to Me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand, Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.’"
 A. The fact is that Jesus calls all people, both young and old, to come to Him: Matt. 11:28-30
 B. All who come to Him have no reason to fear: Heb. 13:6
 C. And if we come to Him, He will take us, figuratively, by the hand and lead us in the narrow way that will take us to the better land with eternal life: Matt. 7:13-14

II. Stanza 2 says that Jesus is the Shepherd and Savior
"Jesus is the Shepherd true, And He’ll always stand by you,
For He loves the little children of the world;
He’s a Savior great and strong, And He’ll shield you from the wrong,
For He loves the little children of the world."
 A. Jesus is the true Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep: Jn. 10:11
 B. Therefore, He is also the Savior great and strong: Lk. 2:11
 C. As our Shepherd and Savior, if we obey Him He’ll shield us from all wrong so that we might be kept by His power through faith to the salvation ready to be revealed at the last time: 1 Pet. 1:5

III. Stanza 3 says that Jesus wants us to be His soldiers
"I am coming, Lord, to Thee, and Thy soldier I will be,
For He loves the little children of the world;
And His cross I’ll always bear, And for Him I’ll do and dare,
For He loves the little children of the world."
(Some modern books change this stanza as follows:
"…Your soldier I will be, For You love….
And Your cross…And for You I’ll do…For You love…")
 A. Jesus wants us to be good soldiers in His spiritual army: 2 Tim. 2:3
 B. To do so, we must determine that we’ll take up the cross and follow Him: Matt. 16:24
 C. Also, we must resolve to do the will of the Father that we might enter the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 7:21

     CONCL.: The chorus reminds us that Jesus loves everyone, including the little children.
"Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world."
The chorus has has taken on a life of its own, and children often sing just the refrain, to which new "stanzas" have been added, such as the following.
2. "Jesus died for all the children, All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight,
Jesus died for all the children of the world."
3. "Jesus rose for all the children, All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight,
Jesus rose for all the children of the world."
4. "Jesus wants the little children To be careful what they do;
Honor father, mother dear, Keep their hearts so full of cheer,
Then He’ll take them home to glory by and by."
The Bible teaches that that infants, babies, and small children are "safe," not yet having reached an age of mature understanding and accountability to be guilty of sin. However, there is certainly nothing wrong with even young children learning and singing about what the Lord expects of them as they grow up and being taught that "Jesus Loves the Little Children."


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s