“I think it was in June, 1870, that ' Jesus Loves Even Me ' was written, ”writes Major Whittle. ”Mr. and Mrs. Bliss were at that time members of my family in Chicago. One morning Mrs. Bliss came down to breakfast and said, as she entered the room: ' Last night Mr. Bliss had a tune given to him that I think is going to live and be one of the most useful that he has written. I have been singing it all the morning, and I cannot get it out of my mind.' She then sang the notes over to us. The idea of Bliss, in writing the hymn, was to bring out the truth that the peace and comfort of a Christian are not founded so much upon his love to Christ as upon Christ's love to him, and that to occupy the mind with Christ's love would produce love and consecration—as taught in Romans 5:5,' The love of God [to us] is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.' How much God has used this little song to lead sinners and doubting Christians to look away to Jesus, eternity alone can tell."
Mr. Bliss said that this song was suggested to him by hearing the chorus of the hymn, ”Oh, how I love Jesus, ”repeated very frequently in a meeting which he attended. After joining in the chorus a number of times the thought came to him, ”Have I not been singing enough about my poor love for Jesus, and shall I not rather sing of his great love for me?”Under the impulse of this thought he went home and composed this, one of his most popular children's hymns.
“A young woman in England, ”says Major Whittle, ”went to a meeting where she heard Mr. Sankey sing, ' I am so glad that Jesus loves me.' While the hymn was being sung she began to feel for the first time in her life that she was a sinner. All her sins came up in an array before her; and so numerous and aggravated did they appear, that she imagined she could never be saved. She said in her heart, ' Jesus cannot love me. He could not love such a sinner as I.' She went home in a state of extreme mental anguish, and did not sleep that night. Every opportunity to obtain more light was eagerly seized. She took her place in the inquiry-room; and there she found, to her astonishment and joy that Jesus could, did, does love sinners. She saw in God's open word that it was for sinners that he died, and for none others. When she realized this she began 'to sing' I am so glad that Jesus loves me,—Jesus loves even me.'"
A minister was holding meetings in Indiana. A few miles distant lived an old Englishman who had not been inside a church for seven years. He was persuaded to take his children to the meeting one Sunday night. He declared afterward that nothing of what was said or done interested him until the close of the service, when ' Jesus loves me ' was sung. On his way home, and until he went to sleep, he could think of nothing but the hymn. When he awoke in the morning the first thing he thought of was, ' Jesus loves me.' He could not get it out of his mind, and when he was out in the field afterward he could think of nothing else. Was it possible that God could love a sinner like him? His eyes were so blinded with tears that he could not see to go on with his work. Out on that lonely field the old man found his Saviour. The next evening he visited the meeting, and as he told his experience tears were in the eyes of all the people.
During the winter after the great fire in Chicago, when the place was being built up with small frame houses for the poor, a mother sent for me one day to visit her little sick girl, who was one of our Sunday school scholars. I remembered her quite well, and was glad to go. Finding that she was beyond hope of recovery, I asked how it was with her.
It is all well with me, ”she replied; ”but I wish you would speak to father and mother."
It was plain that she loved Jesus, and I asked her when she became a Christian. ”Don't you remember last Thursday in the Tabernacle, ”she said, ”when we had the children's meeting, and you sang ' Jesus loves me,' and don't you remember how you told us that if we would give our hearts to him he would love us? It was that day that I gave myself to Jesus. And now I am going to be with him, for the doctors say that I will die to-day."
The testimony of that little girl, in that neglected quarter of the city, did more to encourage me to sing on than anything else, for she was my first convert.
This song was much used in the meetings conducted by Mr. Moody in Great Britain in 1873-4, and was given out to the congregation as an opening hymn more often than any other. As written by Mr. Bliss it consisted of three verses and a chorus. Some one unknown to the writer has written three additional verses beginning,' Jesus loves me, and I know I love Him."