Christians You Should Know: Anna and Susan Warner July 27, 2023

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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

A Snapshot of the Lives of Anna and Susan Warner:

(Anna)Born: Aug. 31, 1820, Long Island, New York
Died: Jan. 22, 1915, Highland Falls, Constitution Island, New York

“She wrote the beloved children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” (1859) and “Praise Him, All Ye Little Children” (music of both by William Bradbury). Anna’s song is sung by millions. She often wrote under the pseudonym of Amy Lothrop. She wrote several novels, books on nature and hymn compilations. Anna lived near West Point and conducted Bible classes for cadets. She was a Presbyterian and was buried with military honors. Her sister was Susan B. Warner.”

(Susan)Born: July 11, 1819, New York, New York
Died: March 17, 1885, Highland Falls, Constitution Island, New York

Hymn writer of “Jesus Bids Us Shine” (music by Edwin Excell). Susan lived on Constitution Island, 1837-85. She wrote religious novels and children’s stories. Her work, The Wide, Wide World (1850) was one of the most popular novels of the 19th Century, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It portrayed the religious development of a 13-year-old orphan. She and her sister, Anna, ministered to cadets for years through Presbyterian Sunday School programs. Susan wrote under the name of Elizabeth Wetherell. Another well-known novel that she wrote was Queechy (1852), depicting the spiritual growth of a young girl.”  – (Excerpts taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

These mighty Christian ladies’ influence will only be known in heaven. Anna and Susan Warner were born into extreme wealth and lived very comfortable lives into their teenage years. However, as times changed and their family lost their fortune, these sisters cheerfully carried on in gospel work. Although reduced to virtual poverty on the family island for several years, these two ladies were passionate about reaching the West Point cadets with the gospel and teaching them the Truth of Scripture. 

The Warner sisters frequently held Bible studies for the cadets and sent their rowboat over to bring the cadets back and forth. These ladies’ investment in the West Point cadets was noticed throughout the decades. They are some of the only civilians buried at the West Point cemetery with military honors. 

While writing one of her many novels, Susan Warner needed a song for a part of the book where a young boy is very ill and dying. During the illness, the boy’s Christian teacher sings him a song. She turned to a children’s song written by her sister, Anna. The hymn they used became, “Jesus Loves Me.” It is a wonderful song filled with such a moving truth: Jesus loves each one of us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). 

The hymn became a household song for children worldwide. Several years later it was put to music and is still sung worldwide. The song has touched thousands and thousands, including famous missionary Amy Carmichael. There is no telling how God can use simple things for His own glory!

The Warner sisters made the most of what they had and yielded their opportunities and abilities to the Lord for His use. Their work and labor of love continue today. May their lives be a stirring testimony to use your ability and opportunity for God and His glory. Allow their testimony of faithful service to encourage you to remain faithful where God has you! 

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

Say and Seal – Susan Warner (1860)

The Wide, Wide World – Susan Warner (1854)

Susan Warner (“Elizabeth Wetherell”) – Anna Warner (1909) – this is a stirring biography of Susan by her sister, Anna.

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