“Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” Was Written at the Request of a Sunday School Class
“Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” was written in 1885, by William Henry Parker. He was a member of the Chelsea Street Baptist Church, in Nottingham, England, where he was active in the work of the Sunday School. He wrote many hymns and songs throughout the years, and had fifteen of them published in the Sunday School Hymnary (1905).
The music for the song was composed by Frederic A. Challinor, who wrote the tune for a competition sponsored by the National Sunday School Union, in London, England.
When Parker’s Sunday School class requested Parker to “tell us another story,” he was inspired to write a six verse song, titled “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus.” The song was included in the 1989 Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but includes only three of the six verses.
The verses of “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” are told from a child’s perspective, asking to hear stories such as when Jesus calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee, or when He blessed the little children in Judea. In the original poem, the third verse describes the Savior’s triumphal return to the temple in Jerusalem (Mark 11:8-9) and refers to ‘palms’ and ‘hosannas.’ The fifth verse included the Savior’s teachings involving animals and nature, referring to ‘sparrows’ (Matthew 10:29) and a ‘lilies’ (Luke 12:27). The sixth, and final verse is dedicated to the Atonement of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32), and may have been excluded in later versions because of the heavy subject matter.
Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” from a 2018 Music and the Spoken Word broadcast:
Tell Me the Stories of Jesus (Lyrics)
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.
Oh, let me hear how the children stood round his knee.
I shall imagine his blessings resting on me;
Words full of kindness, deeds full of grace,
All in the love-light of Jesus’ face.
Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee!
And how the Master, ready and kind,
Chided the billows and hushed the wind.