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History of a hymn

I read some interesting stories by Robert J. Morgan about the background of some of the great hymns of the Christian church through hundreds of years. I read with keen interest about the story of "Jesus Loves Me."

Two sisters, Anna and Susan Warner, needed to help with the family income. They started to write poems and stories. In all they had 106 publications.

One of the most successful joint projects was a novel titled "Say and Seal" in which a little boy named Johnny Fox is dying. His Sunday School teacher, John Linden, comforts him by taking him in his arms, rocking him and making up a little song: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so ..."

The novel became a bestseller, second only to "Uncle Tom’s Cabin," and when hymn writer William Bradbury read the words of John Linden’s little song (written by Anna), he composed a childlike musical score. "Jesus Loves Me" soon became the best known children’s hymn on earth.

For 40 years, Susan and Anna conducted Bible classes for cadets at West Point, and they were buried with full military honors. They are the only civilians buried in the military cemetery at West Point. To this day, their home on Constitution Island is maintained by West Point as a museum to their memory.

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Pastor William Hoffman, who lives in Stewartville, is a retired pastor for the Reformed Church in America.

Pulpit runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Local News Editor Mike Klein at 281-7481 or mklein@postbulletin.com.

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