Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades
Into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief
There is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
I spent my childhood and teen years in the African American Episcopal Church. At one time my mother sang in the choir of the family church. When I say family, that means we were literally related to members of the church. I often played from the AME hymnal on our home piano — just because the music was beautiful…and comforting. These songs are rarely heard today. “Does Jesus Care” keeps playing in my head when thinking about the horrific murders of the nine members including clergy at the historic Mother Emanuel African American Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC Wednesday evening during their weekly Bible study. The honor of “Mother” seems to be assigned to AME congregations that established and built churches during times in America’s slavery history, when for African Americans to give birth to a religious community was in itself an act of rebellion and resistance. Services were held in Emanuel AME today, Father’s Day, the Sunday after the murders. A day of grieving for fathers of children, the sons and daughters of fathers. Mothers and fathers grieve.
“Does Jesus Care” appears in both the AME and Methodist hymnals, as well as the African American Heritage Hymnal. If you know the history of the AME church, you pretty much know most of the history of race and racism in the United States. “Does Jesus Care?” has been a hymn of comfort in times of pain for all believers as it was for Frank E. Graeff (1860-1919), a Pennsylvania Methodist minister, who composed the lyrics following the death of his youngest sister — the 3rd death of a sibling, following the deaths of his parents. I find the best hymns are the ones that question. “Does Jesus Care” is inspired by a verse 1 Peter 5:7 in the New Testament of the Bible: Cast your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Thinking of Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson, your families, friends, neighbors, church family, and the city of Charleston.