Hymn Story

Jesus Calls Us

Hymn Lists

by book of Bible

Cecil Frances Alexander (her married name) was an outstanding young woman by virtue of ability, education, and service.  While still quite young, she and her sister operated a school for the deaf, and she also published a highly successful book of hymns for children—designating the profits for the benefit of the school.

She married William Alexander, an Anglican clergyman who later became the Anglican Archbishop for all of Ireland.  Impressed by her hymns, he asked her to write a hymn for use during the coming Sunday worship based on the call of  Simon, Andrew, James, and John (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-18).  She wrote this hymn, “Jesus Calls Us,” for that occasion.  She wrote 400 hymns during her lifetime ­­— mostly children’s hymns—but “Jesus Calls Us” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” are the best known.

The first verse of this hymn begins, “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea”—acknowledging the call of those first disciples by the Sea of Galilee.  A recurring theme is “Christian, love me more”—”Christian, love me more than these” —”serve and love thee best of all.”  Those words were inspired by John 21:15, where Jesus, after the resurrection, asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  The hymn therefore acknowledges Jesus’ claim, not only over the lives of those first four disciples, but over the lives of every Christian.

— Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan