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In the last week of our Saviour’s life, a very beautiful and touching incident occurred in the city of Jerusalem. The Evangelist John tells the story in the following words:

“Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast: these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: Andrew cometh, and Philip, and they tell Jesus. And Jesus answereth them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”

It was the petition of these Gentile pilgrims from the land of the Spartans and Athenians that inspired an American young woman to write one of our beautiful hymns, “We would see Jesus.”

Her name was Anna Bartlett Warner, and for almost a century she lived at a beautiful retreat in the Hudson river known as Constitution island, under the very shadows of the great military academy at West Point. She had a sister named Susan who achieved even greater literary fame than she, but it is Anna’s name, after all, that will live on and be cherished for her songs. We wonder if any child in America during the last half century has not learned to know and to love the little hymn—

Jesus loves me, this I know,

For the Bible tells me so.


Children throughout the world are singing it now, and missionaries tell us that the simplicity of its message also makes a wonderful appeal to the newly-converted heathen. This hymn is one of the reasons why the name of Anna Warner will never be forgotten.

An exquisite lullaby, also written by Miss Warner, begins with the words, “O little child, lie still and sleep.”

Two volumes of sacred song were composed by this gifted young woman. The first bore the title, “Hymns of the Church Militant,” and was published in 1858. The second, called “Wayfaring Hymns, Original and Translated,” appeared in 1869. “We would see Jesus” was included in the first of these collections. It appears, however, that it was written at least seven years before its publication. An interesting item from her sister Susan’s diary, under date of February 8, 1851, tells of the impression the hymn made on her when she first read it. She writes:

“The next day, Sunday, in the afternoon, Anna had been copying off some hymns for Emmelin’s book, and left them with me to look over. I had not read two verses of ‘We would see Jesus,’ when I thought of Anna, and merely casting my eye down, the others so delighted and touched me that I left it for tears and petitions. I wished Anna might prove the author—and after I found she was, I sat by her a little while with my head against her, crying such delicious tears.”

Another hymn that has found a place in many hearts bears the title, “The Song of the Tired Servant.” It was inspired by a letter received by Miss Warner from a friend who was a pastor, in which he spoke of the weariness he felt after the tasks of an arduous day, but of the joy that his soul experienced in serving the Master. The first stanza reads:


One more day’s work for Jesus,

One less of life for me!

But heaven is nearer,

And Christ is dearer

Than yesterday, to me;

His love and light

Fill all my soul tonight.

Although the two Warner sisters lived in a corner apart from the busy world, they made their influence felt in widespread circles. They felt a particular responsibility in reference to the many thousands of young men from all parts of the United States who were being trained at West Point for service in the army, and for many years they conducted a Bible class for the cadets.

Military honors were accorded each of the sisters when they were buried. Anna Warner was ninety-five years old when she died in 1915.

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