If you spent any time in Sunday school as a child, you probably learned two songs right off the bat: Jesus Loves Me and another wee ditty Jesus Loves the Little Children. Penned by Baptist minister Clarence H. Woolston, Jesus Loves the Little Children was inspired by Matthew 19:14:
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children. (NLT)
Woolston adopted the tune for Jesus Loves the Little Children from George Frederick Root’s merciless marching song from the American Civil War Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! By substituting his simple lyrics for the militaristic ones, Woolston created a memorable children’s hymn promoting peaceful kinship in Christ.
Today you’ll find a few variations of Woolston’s original text “red and yellow, black and white” that are more inclusive. One modern version inserts the word “brown” between “red” and “yellow” while a others rewrite the third and fourth lines taking specific colors out of the equation…
Ev’ry colour, ev’ry race,
all are cover’d by His grace.
or a more pretentious one…
Native, Asian, African, Caucasian;
Jesus died for every persuasion.
(How many young kids understand that meaning of the word “persuasion”???)
And then there’s the one that delights me with its imagery – and makes me feel good about my body image…
Fat and skinny, short and tall,
Jesus loves them one and all.
Since Jesus Loves the Little Children is so ubiquitous, I made sure to include it in my piano arrangement The Ultimate Sunday School Mashup. I tucked a verse of it in toward the beginning and then gave a bit of it a cameo again at the end just before the big “Amen” finale for a fun, grin-enticing moment. Enjoy!