“Love Him, Love Him”

"…Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise" (Matt. 21:16)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages children and even infants to give praise to God is "Love Him, Love Him." The author is usually identified as unknown or anonymous. The original text is thought possibly to have been written and the tune (Bonner, Praise Him, God Is Love, or He Is Love) was most likely composed (or at least arranged) under the pseudonym of E. Rawdon Bailey both by Carey Bonner, who was born on May 1, 1859, at Southward in London, England. The son of a Baptist minister, he attended the Plaistow School and, after hearing a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon, studied at Rawdon Baptist College in London. Becoming a Baptist minister himself in 1884, he worked with the Oakfield Union Church at Sale in Cheshire from 1884 to 1895, and with the Portland Chapel in Southampton from 1895 to 1900. Going on to become involved in the British Sunday School Movement, he began as secretary in 1900, a position which he held for the rest of his life, then additionally served as President of the National Sunday School Union in 1922 and 1923. Also, he was President of the Baptist Union in 1931 and 1932.

     Another principal interest of Bonner’s beside Sunday school work was hymns. In 1896, he served as music editor for The Christian Endeavor Hymnal. In 1905 he edited The Sunday School Hymnary, and he published three volumes of Child Songs in 1908, 1923, and 1936. Also, he was chairman of the committee that prepared the Baptist Church Hymnal Revised in 1933, and with W. T. Whitley, he compiled its handbook in 1935.  Bonner’s other major work was Some Baptist Hymnists of 1937. A founding member of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, he composed cantatas, anthems, sacred songs, part songs, in addition to being an author and arranger, often using pseudonyms. He died at Muswell Hill, Hornsey, in Middlesex, England, near London, on June 16, 1938. His best-known contribution to children’s religious songs is this little piece originally entitled "Praise Him, all ye little children."

     The hymn first appeared in Bonner’s Sunday School Hymnary of 1905, although some sources it was in the first edition (1908) of his Child Songs. The Handbook to the Baptist Hymnal (1992) observes that Bonner was noted for his arrangements and harmonizations of melodies from other sources and says, "It is therefore unclear to what extent this is an original work." Most of our books have made "Love Him, love Him, all ye little children" the first stanza, have "Praise Him…" as the second, and simply mark the hymn "Arr." for "arranged." One of them has "Arr. H. P. M," which according to another source refers to Hubert Platt Main (1839-1925). Most other books have three stanzas, "Praise Him…Love Him…Thank Him," and all end each line with "God is love." One book has added a fourth stanza, "Serve Him." I have taken the liberty to make some other additions and changes to give the song a little more substance and make it somewhat less repetitious.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Love Him, Love Him" appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor. Other books in my collection to contain this song are the 1940 Broadman Hymnal edited by B. B. McKinney; the c. 1950s Praise and Worship Hymnal and the 1972 Worship in Song Hymnal both published by Lillenas Publishing Co.; the 1957 All American Church Hymnal and the 1968 American Service Hymnal both published by John T. Benson; the 1958 Our Hymns of Praise edited by J. Mark Stauffer; the 1967 Tabernacle Hymns published by Tabernacle Publishing Co.; the 1972 Living Hymns edited by Alfred B. Smith; the 1980 Praises We Sing edited by Elmina Yoder and Lula A.Miller (harmonized by the editors); the 1991 Baptist Hymnal edited by Wesley L. Forbis; the 1992 Pilgrim’s Praises edited by Steven S. Rodabaugh; the 1997 Celebration Hymnal edited by Jack W. Hayford; and the 1999 Songs and Hymns of Revival edited by Jack Trieber (where it is erroneously attributed to Anna B. Warner as author and William B. Bradbury as composer).  Almost all of these begin the song, "Praise Him, praise Him."

     The song identifies several characteristics of God and tells what our response should be.

I.Stanza 1 says that we should love God because He is love
"Love Him, love Him, All ye little children,
God is love, God is love;
He sent Christ to Die for our salvation,
God is love, God is love."
 A. We should love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind: Matt. 22:37-38
 B. The reason that we should love Him is that He is love: 1 Jn. 4:8
 C. He showed His love for us in that He sent Christ to die for our salvation: Rom. 5:8
II. Stanza 1 says that we should praise God because He is great
"Praise Him, praise Him, All ye little children,
God is great, God is great;
He created All in earth and heaven,
God is great, God is great."
 A. We should offer up the sacrifice of praise to God continually: Heb. 13:15
 B. The reason that we should praise Him is because He is great: Ps. 150:1-2
 C. He showed His greatness in that He created all in earth and heaven: Gen. 1:1

III. Stanza 3 says that we should thank God because He is good
"Thank Him, thank Him, All ye little children,
God is good, God is good;
He’s the source of Every perfect blessing,
God is good, God is good."
 A. We should express our thanks to God in everything: 1 Thess. 5:18
 B. The reason that we should be thankful is that He is good: Ps. 34:8
 C. He showed His goodness towawrd us in that He is the source of every good and perfect gift: Jas. 1:17

IV. Stanza 4 says that we should serve Him because He is near
"Serve Him, serve Him, All ye little children,
God is near, God is near;
He wants us to Be with Him in heaven,
God is near, God is near."
 A. We should serve God with reverence and godly fear: Heb. 12:18
 B. The reason that we should serve Him is that He is near, not far from any of us: Acts 17:28
C. Not only does He want to be near us in this life, but He also wants
us to be even nearer to Him in heaven: Col. 1:5

     CONCL.: Many of us learned to sing this song when small children in Bible study classes and "vacation Bible schools." In one congregation where I labored and a book with this song was used, a brother would lead it occasionally. Some may object to the inclusion of such "children’s songs" in a regular worship service. Each congregation and song leader will have to make their own decisions on the matter, but since we are to have a child-like faith ("become as little children"), I have trouble understanding why we cannot sing songs in our worship that express the trust of a child as we encourage each other to "Love Him, Love Him."


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