Jesus Calls Us
Miss Cecil Humphreys was just 21 years old when her first book was published. Entitled "Verses for Holy Seasons," it contained a hymn or poem for each Sunday of the year, with special verses on holidays and special occasions. Written as a result of Miss Humphreys reading of "The Christian Year" by Rev. John Keble, it has been called "A Christian Year for Children."
In one of her Sunday School classes, her students were puzzled about the meaning of some of the words in the Apostles Creed. Unable to adequately explain to them in their terminology, she resorted to making her teaching in poetic form. For the first phrase, "I believe in God the Father Almighty," she wrote, "All Things Bright and Beautiful." For "Born of the Virgin Mary" she wrote, "Once in Royal David's City." And to explain the meaning of the death of Jesus who was crucified and buried, she wrote, "There is a Green Hill far Away." In 1848, the year she was married, she published her second book, "Hymns for Little Children," which included the songs inspired by the Creed.
One afternoon in 1852, her husband, Rev. William Alexander, found her writing a poem as a result of the sermon he had preached the Sunday before. He had preached on the burial of Moses, and she had been so inspired by the message that she wrote these words:
By Nebo's lonely mountain, On this side Jordan's wave,
In a vale in the land of Moab, There lies a lonely grave.
But no man built that sepulcher, And no man saw it e're;
For the angels of God upturned the sod, And laid he dead man there.
Her husband was so moved by these gripping words, that he asked her to write a poem for his sermon coming that Sunday. He was going to speak on the calling of Andrew by Jesus in Mark 1:16-18. After reading the passage through, Mrs. Alexander wrote these words:
Jesus calls us o'er the tumult, Of our life's wild, restless sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth, Saying Christian follow me!
By her death in 1895 Mrs. Alexander had written over four hundred hymns and poems. Over a quarter million copies of “Hymns for Little Children" was sold, but nothing ever received the attention that her song, "Jesus Calls Us," has received.
~Ernest K. Emurian, "Living Stories of Famous Hymns"