“Every Shade From Dark to Light”

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white,

They are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Above is how I learned the song Jesus Loves the Little Children when I was growing up. I probably knew it that way for 40 years. Then suddenly I couldn’t just sing it as memorized. Because the third line had been changed. Now it was:

Red, brown, yellow black and white.

For all these years we had been omitting the brown people of the world. Somehow they weren’t included in “all the children of the world”. So someone changed the words we sang at church. But now I had to watch that I was singing the right words, and not the wrong words. My mind would always bring up the original words, and I had to watch and concentrate to make the new words come out of my mouth.

I had only recently come to a moderate truce on the new words, where my mind was willing to give the the new words as easily as the old, when they changed again. Now it became:

Every shade from dark to light

Seems the five groups wasn’t inclusive enough either, it missed people that fell between them on the spectrum (a little like the multiplication of genders we are seeing today — only colors has more basis than additional genders). So once again I get to struggle with my mind while singing a song — not to concentrate on the meaning of the words, but just to get the right words themselves.

I am not saying all this to suggest that the changes are wrong, just that they have an impact on people who come from different times and places. I implore people not to think too highly of themselves for coming from the era that uses Every shade instead of the four colors motif, or to suggest that the people using the colors motif are somehow biased or racist. Recognize that each age has these changes in terms and their relative bias, which doesn’t really reflect on the people that participated in each era. And since eras overlap, don’t judge those from another era more comfortable with a different term.


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