Posted by: rcottrill | July 23, 2014

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

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Words: William Henry Parker (b. Mar. 4, 1845; d. Dec. 2, 1929)
Music: Stories of Jesus, by Frederick Arthur Challinor (b. Nov. 12, 1866; d. June 10, 1952)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune by Frederick Challinor was a prize-winner in a contest sponsored by the National Sunday School Union in London, in its centennial year, 1903.

There is biographical information about William Parker in both the Wordwise and Cyber Hymnal links. Parker wrote the hymn about Jesus’ life and ministry after the children in his Sunday School class asked, “Teacher, tell us another story.” The song was written in 1885, in six stanzas. Many hymnals now use only three (CH-1, 2 and 4).

As of this writing, the Cyber Hymnal does not have the actual fifth stanza, nor do most hymn books include. Here it is–though I think it would work better after CH-1 or 2.

Tell how the sparrow that twitters on yonder tree,
And the sweet meadow-side lily may speak to me–
Give me their message for I would hear
How Jesus taught us our Father’s care.

The author makes no attempt to tell the “stories” of Jesus in an organized or chronological way. He simply reflects the desire of the children to learn more of what the Lord said and did.

CH-1) Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here;
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

We see, in the Gospels, how the Lord Jesus loved children, and welcomed them, in spite of the attitude of the disciples–who seemed to believe they were a waste of time.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matt. 19:13-15).

CH-2) First let me hear how the children stood round His knee,
And I shall fancy His blessing resting on me;
Words full of kindness, deeds full of grace,
All in the love light of Jesus’ face.

CH-3 is omitted by most editors. In his Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, Carlton Young claims it is “thought by Christian educators to be beyond children’s comprehension.” I don’t agree. Other than providing a definition of “chided” (scolded–which children understand well!), I see nothing that could not be meaningful to all but the youngest.

CH-3) Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee;
And how the Maker, ready and kind,
Chided the billows, and hushed the wind.

CH-4 reminds us of the children’s participation in the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday.

“A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!’…When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”?’” (Matt. 21:8-9, 15-16)

CH-4) Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,
Waving a branch of the palm tree high in my hand.
One of His heralds, yes, I would sing
Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

CH-5 is also omitted most times. It takes us to Gethsemane, and on to the cross. The only concern I have is that it would have been well to include a stanza on the resurrection. (British hymnals have added one.)

CH-5) Show me that scene in the garden, of bitter pain.
Show me the cross where my Saviour for me was slain.
Sad ones or bright ones, so that they be
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

All things considered, I believe this is a fine children’s hymn, and should be taught and explained to them so they can get the full meaning of it.

1) What information or incidents would you include in a children’s hymn about Jesus?

2) What hymns do you think are especially useful in working with children?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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